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The Left's hypocrisy over the 'politicisation' of London Bridge is staggering

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It is an insult to pretend this latest atrocity is different to previous incidents - to do so obscures the misplaced priorities which led to it

This was an inherently "political" attack

John Donne’s Meditation XVII, perhaps the most famous of all his prose works, contains the line “Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.” At times like these, I am drawn to these words; nothing seems more apt in the aftermath of a terrorist attack.

For the purposes of this article, though, we need to take a step back from the common reaction — that this was an appalling tragedy tinged with moments of true heroism — to look at the response to it in the broader context of the general election campaign.

Boris Johnson has been accused of ‘playing politics’ with the incident — the front page of Monday’s Guardian openly lambasted the Prime Minister for using the deaths of two innocents for political gain. He was, some argued, manipulating what happened to the victims, who by all accounts held little sympathy for him or his party, to push an agenda they would probably have loathed.

The problem is that there is no precedent for taking occurrences and outrages such as these and stripping them of all political context and value. Because, by and large, such cases of wickedness and death are political; this attack certainly was, and what it raised will be, too.

Many of Johnson's critics have little right to accuse him of capitalising on this tragedy, having taken every opportunity to politicise death when it has suited their cause. The Grenfell Tower disaster was used as a cudgel to batter Theresa May. No doubt it will continue to be wielded, variously, at other Tories in the future. 

The murder of Jo Cox MP, too, has also been used to browbeat opponents. And one can barely move without being reminded by Labour partisans that "Tory austerity" has supposedly killed hundreds of thousands of people in cold blood - in fact a gross misinterpretation of the truth.

All these issues are political. Some have been used to make good points, others, less so. It is an insult, then, to pretend this latest atrocity is any different.

The sad reality is that this incident would not have happened had this nation not misplaced its priorities. For, though issues from the NHS to transport are fought over in the political domain, the one thing that governments should do above all —uphold the rights of citizens, the laws that keep a society running, and the institutions that permit that — has been abandoned in our country. 

In an ‘age of austerity’ when the Ministry of Defence had five per cent of its budget shaved off, and the NHS saw its funding continue to increase, the Ministry of Justice saw an astonishing 27 per cent of its resources disappear into the ether.

The public don’t really care. As Ann Widdecombe told TalkRadio this morning: “There are no votes in prisons, metaphorically and literally.” To most people, MoJ funds means resources going to prisoners and fat cat lawyers, something successive governments and newspapers have done little to clarify.

What people fail to see is that hacking away at that money also means fewer resources to reform inmates — a vital part of making society safer. The overwhelming majority of the 80,000 odd prisoners in the UK today will one day be free. If they have not been reformed, then we will all feel the effects sooner than we think.

Even if you are of the "lock them up with longer sentences" view, maintaining prisons is equally essential. Overcramped prisons means early releases and lower sentences. By cutting MoJ funding, we have allowed our government to facilitate the early release of dangerous criminals just to alleviate pressure on the system. 

If you take Islamist prisoners, it becomes a combination of the two. Violent criminals driven by faith are by their very nature more difficult to rehabilitate, and so therefore need greater resources spent on them. And it is necessary that this is done — they will spend longer in custody, whether they are lost causes or have a chance of redemption. That gives them greater access to the wider prison population over a longer period of time — the ideal breeding ground for further radicalisation. There is no box-ticking talking therapy programme for these people, nor is it feasible to just leave them to their own devices unchecked to prey on other vulnerable inmates. It is a complex and expensive thing that needs to be done.

Whether by locking people up longer, or trying to reform them and free them to being productive members of society faster, the Ministry of Justice needs more money. While we remain oblivious to this fact, we will have the criminal justice system we deserve: One that actively endangers our society. 

People may shrug and assume that because they themselves are law-abiding, the law isn’t their issue. It never is, until criminality that has festered under the system’s ineptitude crashes into them. Whoever wins the general election must look to put justice back at the top of the agenda. 

It serves no one to decimate the justice system as it has been decimated. And more, it serves no one to complain that the murder of innocents, partly as a result of those cuts, should not be politicised. If anything, this is something that should have been politicised long, long ago. 

If you just ignore this, because it doesn’t suit your current agenda, then you could do worse than take a look at Donne’s final warning: "send not to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee."