This is a sad and terrible day. Jo Cox, MP for the Yorkshire constituency of Batley and Spen, died yesterday after being shot and stabbed in the street. She was leaving a surgery. She had been doing what a good local MP does, speaking to her constituents about their lives and their problems.
She was a working woman. Prior to being an MP she worked for Oxfam and then as an advisor to Sarah Brown. She had a husband and two small children and they lived on a houseboat, moored on the Thames. The pictures of her talking and laughing and playing tug-of-war could have come from any one of our Facebook pages. We read about Jo’s life and we relate and understand.
We have been lucky, in so many ways. We have lived in a country that has rarely made international headlines. A safe space, in a global context. A country where women walk freely. Where politicians, journalists, charity workers, bloggers, artists, activists and day-to-day social media users have been able to express opinions and take action without fearing for their lives. We have liberties that are so ingrained in our regular world that we don’t even think about them. We have not been in the news and we have been lucky.
Yesterday was a vicious shock. It is a shock to find we are living in a country that is talked about. That we live in a country where a good person like Jo Cox can be killed as she served her community.
We are not kind to our politicians. We call them fools, or worse, over wine or on Twitter. We shout at Question Time and throw our hands up at Newsnight. On The Times Red Box email, Matt Chorley writes that it’s worth remembering “that democracy does actually matter, and that those we elect give far more than most of us can imagine.”
“To be an MP is brave,” says Michael Deacon in The Telegraph. “No matter how hard you work, no matter how much you try to help, you’re going to be distrusted. You’re going to be abused. You’re going to be hated. Not by people who know you, but by people who don’t.”
“This is a day of infamy, a day in which we should all feel angry and ashamed,” writes Alex Massie in The Spectator. “Because if you don’t feel a little ashamed – if you don’t feel sick, right now, wherever you are reading this – then something’s gone wrong with you somewhere.”
Jo Cox had only been an MP for a year. She was clearly well-liked and passionate about standing up for other people. It would be a better world if more of us had discovered this because of her work and not by reading her obituaries. Let there not be another Jo Cox. Let’s look out for the good people. Let’s raise them high.
In Jo’s maiden speech to parliament she said of her constituency: “While we celebrate our diversity, what surprises me time and time again as I travel around the constituency is that we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.”
You may be a woman like Jo Cox. You may have friends who are women like Jo Cox. Clever, committed, caring, not afraid to stand and be counted. Her family shouldn’t be grieving. Her voice should not have been silenced.
Our thoughts are with Jo’s husband, Brendan, her two children and all of those who loved her.
The Emerald Street team
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