In the middle of the night, as news broke that an explosion in Manchester had killed scores of concertgoers, political parties reacted almost instantly. Campaigning was cancelled. For at least 24 hours.
Then the details of what happened emerged. That the explosion was deliberately created by a suicide bomber. That little girls died in the blast. Campaigning was suspended indefinitely.
But what does this mean for 8 June 2017? When will campaigning resume, and how? While most see the suspension of the political battle as a matter of respect, some, such as the blogger Guido Fawkes, argue that doing so only gives “the enemies of democracy some satisfaction”.
Here is what we know so far:
The parties have suspended national campaigning
All the mainstream parties have agreed to suspend national campaigning, and are likely to agree together before resuming campaigning again.
However, Labour has advised candidates that local campaigning is at their discretion. If it does happen, it will be leaflets through doors, rather than public stalls.
Broadcast interviews have also been cancelled
The BBC’s Andrew Neil interviewed Theresa May on Monday night, in what was supposed to be the first of a series of interviews with the leaders of different political parties. However, the second, with Ukip’s Paul Nuttall, was scrapped.
A BBC spokeswoman said: “Following tragic events in Manchester, The Andrew Neil Interviews will not go ahead as planned whilst election campaigning is suspended.” The decision to resume interviews is likely to reflect when campaigning resumes.
The suspension is a gesture of respect
The UK terrorist threat level has risen to “critical”. Since the Westminster Parliament was the target of a terrorist attack only two months ago, you might think one of the primary reasons for stopping campaigning would be the security of the public figures involved.
However, party sources say the main motivation for suspending the campaign is out of respect, and a realisation that the public does not want to see parties squabbling at this point in time.
Indeed, so far, politicians have not exactly been hiding. The Prime Minister Theresa May went to Manchester on Tuesday morning, while Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and home secretary Amber Rudd attended the vigil in the evening.
No one really knows when campaigning will resume
Because the parties want to begin campaigning at the same time, there is no fixed time for when candidates hit the streets again. However, the awkward fact remains that we are halfway through a general election campaign. The Scottish National Party cancelled its manifesto launch after the terror attack. So while “indefinite means indefinite”, as one party source told me, it can’t really mean 8 June.
When the Labour MP Jo Cox was murdered during the EU referendum, campaigning was suspended for three days before resuming again. If the same rule is applied, campaigning may start as early as Friday. However, the parties may prefer to wait until the weekend, and make a fresh start on Monday.
The Scottish Greens certainly seem to be planning for this. A planned manifesto launch on Friday has been postponed, but may happen on Monday.
Campaigning may look a bit different when it starts
When campaigning does resume, it is likely to be a gradual process, rather than epic photo ops and rosettes. In the meantime, expect more scrutiny of parties’ policies on terrorism, security and civil liberties.