Thursday, 30 June 2016

Have we already forgotten about Jo Cox's death?

Remember Jo Cox?

She was the Labour MP who was murdered a week before the EU referendum vote.

The House of Commons united in tribute to her.

There was a profound sense of shock that a campaigner, parliamentarian and mother could have been shot and stabbed on the streets of England.

People agonised over the circumstances of her death.

No one knew what motivated her killer, but we heard tell of his links to shadowy right-wing groups in the USA.

Could the febrile political environment have played a part?

The referendum campaign had produced a lot of vitriolic rhetoric about migrants – whose cause Jo had bravely championed.

There was also a mood of anti-establishment fervour whipped up by people who should know better.

Politicians are all the same. All in it for themselves.

And then we discovered that Jo wasn’t in it for herself.

She entered public life to help others, as many people who become MPs do.

She had been to some of the poorest and most troubled places in the world. And then she’d gone back to serve the community in which she’d grown up.

People wondered whether her death would be a turning point in the referendum.

They asked whether we needed to look at ourselves and the type of country we were becoming.

A week later, we learnt that many people made no connection between Jo’s death and the decision we were taking on Europe.

It seemed as if the poison and the rhetoric and the noise was – even a few days after Jo’s murder – loud enough to drown out the message of self-reflection and the anticipated mood of greater tolerance.

And after the referendum, it was business as usual.

Some politicians did their best to confirm everyone’s prejudices about their motivations and interests.

The leading lights of the Tory Party fought for political position in a Machiavellian tussle worthy of any Shakespearean tragedy.

The Labour Leader retreated to a bunker and defied every plea for him to stand down, reducing long-standing party servants to tears.

Labour MPs report death threats because they have dared to challenge a leader on a march towards political irrelevance and oblivion.

The Tories stab themselves in the back and Labour shoot themselves in the foot.

But no one remembers Jo Cox.

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