I didn’t know Jo Cox but by all accounts she was in politics for all the right reasons. I can’t even begin to imagine what today must be like for her husband, her children, her friends and her colleagues.
We don’t know the full facts yet but what we do know is coming from the same sources so either we discuss it in the round or not at all. If we can’t talk about Tommy Mair’s politics then we can’t discuss his mental health either. And deliberately downplaying the political aspects is every bit as much an act of politicisation as mentioning them.
This wasn’t a random act of violence. Why his MP? What made him think that was a legitimate thing to do? Do we not have a duty to act as soon as possible before this happens again? I have an email from the Council telling me not to hold surgeries. I have messages from friends in all parties worried sick. I’m a little bit scared too. I’m not going to sit here and say nothing. It could be your friend, your colleague, your MP next. The rosette colour and the wing of the party won’t matter. If we treat politics and politicians as subhuman or different then we can’t be surprised when someone steps over the line.
This dehumanisation of politics and politicians was wrong before Jo Cox was murdered and it is wrong now. It’s wrong when some in the Labour Party say that Conservatives are evil and find themselves unable to accept that people can disagree with them without being immoral. It’s wrong when Farage talks about breaking points and that “violence is the next step”. And yes, it’s wrong when Boris and Gove talk about the experts and the elite and the establishment. They might be at different depths but they are all fishing in the same pool. Cynical, deliberate and absolutely wrong.
We can’t bring Jo Cox back but maybe we can stop the next attack on an MP or a Councillor or a council employee or parliamentary staffer. It’s just wrong. And we need to say it. Loudly.