I was actually organised enough for once to write my editorial almost a week in advance, a long winded ramble about the importance of voting and the joys of democracy. But after the events of Monday night, the election seems somewhat insignificant*. So I’d like to thank my deputies for encouraging me to write about something so personal.
I’m not good at this kind of thing at the best of times, and the fact that this crime took place in my hometown has made it so much harder, so apologies if I don’t do it justice. I can honestly say this is strangest, most surreal thing I’ve ever had to write and it’s not a situation I ever thought I’d be in.
Something like this doesn’t hit you seriously until it happens on your doorstep. It’s human nature to distance yourself from danger, to label it as something which happens in a different, very far away, part of the world. Even after the recent murders in Westminister many people, myself included, told themselves that something like this could only happen in the capital. We convince ourselves we’re safe to mask the fact that we’re afraid, and that’s understandable. No one can blame you for being scared or angry and I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel the same way.
There’s no doubt that over the next few weeks people will continually refer to this event, particularly in the run up to the general election. I’m not going to try to convince you to think one way or another as it’s not my place to do so. I only ask that you don’t let fear or hate cloud your judgement.
It’s reasonable to let recent events guide your political allegiance or view and in many ways that’s logical, but it should never dictate them. We should never let fear compromise our morals. If anything, it is most important during times of adversity to be unwavering in our sense of hope and humanity and remain united. I know that sounds like a cliché, like something you read on your Facebook feed accompanied by a hashtag the morning after this type of crime. But it’s true.
Of course huge praise must be given to members of the emergency services and NHS workers who courageously performed their responsibilities and likely saved countless lives. Likewise, those who offered shelter to children separated from friends or family, or the taxis that gave free lifts home have done an incredibly kind thing and are a true testament to the strength and community which defines the city. It is during such awful times that it is most important to remember and practice such values.
It’s strange, because I haven’t lived in Manchester since I became a student almost three years ago. Even nowadays when I do go back it isn’t for more than a couple of days, a week at the most. I was asked whether I thought Manchester was still my home a few weeks ago and I said no. But if Monday has taught me anything, it’s that home is more than where you live. Home is about belonging. Manchester is my home, and always will be. And if there’s one thing I know about my home and the people who call it theirs, it’s that Manchester will get through this. There’s a reason Mancunians like to bang on about their city. About Oasis and Stone Roses. United and City. About our culture and our history. It’s because we’re proud. Tony Wilson once described his excess of civic pride as his “heroic flaw”. But it’s not a flaw; it’s a strength. It’s this pride that means we will never be divided.
So whether you’re staying in Sheffield or spending the summer elsewhere, I hope all of you are somewhere you consider home with people you love.
*You should definitely still vote though