Among the twenty two dead and fifty nine injured are children. Youngsters who had gone out to see an artist – 23 year-old Ariana Grande – who is particularly popular with young girls. In the hours after a lone suicide bomber detonated a device, in the foyer near the box office as the 21,000-strong audience made its way out at the close of the concert, there was confusion and scenes of heartbreaking desperation as parents searched for their loved ones. Manchester rallied and the emergency services rushed towards the danger, not away from it, reminding us all of the debt we owe our public servants.
Campaigning for the general election has been suspended by all the parties. Party politics is not appropriate at a moment like this.
But in time – in a few days – campaigning will begin again. How we respond as a nation – and the national leadership choices we are about to make – will become an entirely legitimate subject of debate. Leadership will be central.
Britain and the West are up against a bunch of scumbags prepared to slaughter children at concerts. We need clear-eyed calm determination and utter ruthlessness in taking them on. We need a deep commitment to security, intelligence and policing. We do not need hand-wringing and equivocation.