At around 2230 hours last night, as concert-goers were leaving an Ariana Grande gig at the Manchester Arena, an explosive device was detonated either in the building’s foyer, or immediately outside. Thousands had been at the concert, many of them children. So far it is reported that there have been 22 deaths, with countless injuries. The area is now closed off and adjacent Victoria railway station has been closed for the day.
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We do not yet know the identity of the bomber, who is believed to have died in the blast. Campaigning by all parties in the General Election has been suspended. Greater Manchester’s newly-elected Mayor Andy Burnham has said “after our darkest of nights, Manchester is today waking up to the most difficult of dawns”. What today is not about is the scoring of cheap political points - for most people.
While the security services begin their search to find out who was behind the bombing, who might have assisted them, and what drove them to carry out what looks like a suicide attack, some out there on the right have decided that The Scary Muslims (tm) Done It. Hence the appearance on Twitter of Battersea bedroom dweller Paul Watson, aka Prison Planet, to start stirring the pot in his usual inimitable fashion.
Watson, whose Twitter avatar now shows him smoking a cigarette to suggest a more tough-guy persona, started the ball rolling with “Manchester has been bombed several times in the past by the IRA, but this is the first time anyone has died”. Nudge, nudge, they’re worse than the IRA. Then came a particularly stupid intervention from Geraldo Rivera, a host with Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse).
“Many terrorists arrested in mowing down of pedestrians outside Westminster London in March were from #Manchester hotbed of Islamic radicals”. Dickhead. One lone attacker and not from Manchester. But this was mere amateurism, compared to pro-am motormouth Katie Hopkins. “Politicians. Do not insult us with your platitudes. Do not tell us we stand shoulder to shoulder. The dead never carry on as normal” she scolded.
There was more. Andy Burnham’s dignified and measured statement was dismissed with “Disgusting. Business as usual. Tell that to the mother of the child felled by nails and bolts”. And then Hatie Katie overreached herself. “22 dead. Number Rising. Schofield. Don’t you even dare. Do not be part of the problem. We need a final solution #Machester”. Who is this “Machester”? What the heck, it’s somewhere ghastly up north.
After changing that last line to “We need a true solution”, she was challenged and offered the weasel words “I stand by my tweet. I find the typo disrespectful to the survivors in Manchester”. But it wasn’t a “typo”. Mis-spelling “Manchester” is a typo. What Katie Hopkins did was to trot out a line so infamous that it needs no explanation. This was a clear exhortation to genocide. It has rightly been reported to the Police.
Katie Hopkins didn’t learn from losing that court case. And she won’t learn from this slice of viciousness unless and until she suffers some kind of sanction as a result. The people of the North West don’t need Katie Hopkins’ advice. And nor does anyone else.