Terror cannot triumph

There are times when words simply cannot do justice to the enormity of events or to the depth of human emotion they can provoke.

Today, almost a week on from the tragedy of the Manchester bombing, I will try my best to express my feelings here.
Nothing that I say can properly convey the sense of grief, shock or sadness which has swept over so many people these last seven days.
It is a sadness that has enveloped communities the length and breadth of the UK, and no doubt far beyond, as the friends, families and colleagues of those who were lost try to reconcile themselves to the fact they will never see loved ones again.
The empty rooms, the missing place at the table, the birthdays and family celebrations that will now be forever missing someone at their centre – all of these things and more speak to the multiple human tragedies wrought by Manchester Arena attack.
My heart breaks for all of the families affected. And the collective sense of grief is only compounded by the fact that so many of those killed and injured were so young.
Who can honestly look at the picture of eight year-old Saffie Rose Roussos, the youngest of them all, without finding themselves close to tears?
And the tragedy has touched Scotland directly. The death of 14 year-old Eilidh MacLeod, from Barra, has left the island’s community bereft. My thoughts today remain with Eilidh’s family, and with the family of her friend Laura MacIntyre, who remains in hospital in Manchester.
Amid such heartbreak it seems almost indecent to turn our thoughts back to everyday life and in particular to the grind of a general election campaign.
But turn our thoughts to such things we must. Not least because the goal of those who carry out atrocities such as last week’s is to disrupt, divide and ultimately to destabilise democracy.
They will not succeed.  But the free and fair elections we enjoy can very easily be taken for granted.
And so, this week, we must reaffirm our commitment to the democratic process. For me and my counterparts that means getting back on the campaign trail and making our respective cases to voters ahead of an election that is now just 10 days away.
That means you will hear some of the usual political soundbites, exchanges and brickbats. It is easy to dismiss those things as “just politicians droning on again” or to retort with the well-worn “they’re all the same anyway”.
But really, truly, the noise and bustle of the election campaign getting back to normal should be celebrated for the wonderful thing it is – the sound of a country electing its representatives and defending democracy itself.
Manchester now joins an unwanted list of cities blighted by terrorism in recent times – London, Nice, Paris and Berlin are just some of those who have suffered too.
And the core values we cherish as we look to make sure terror cannot triumph are not Scottish values, or British values, or European or Western values. They are fundamental human values.
This article originally appeared in the Daily Record.