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.
A few local residents have asked me how I intend to vote in next week’s referendum. I will be voting to remain and I hope that you will join me in doing so.
I appreciate that quite a few people reading this will disagree with me, and that will include some of my close friends and those who share my politics. I don’t think that is anything to despair about – it is what democracy is all about.
To be honest I’ve been greatly underwhelmed and disappointed by the tone of debate on both sides of the campaign. Our relationship as a country with our neighbours in a globalised world is hugely complicated and nuanced and can’t possibly be boiled down to a soundbite or a catchphrase.
When I put my name forward to be the local MP for Worsley & Eccles South last year, I said that my top priority for our area was a strong local economy. Only a strong economy will provide jobs for local people and allow us to fund the public services we expect and deserve. Nothing has changed since – it is still my view.
There is no one magic bullet that has encouraged me to vote remain but on balance I believe that we’ll be better off remaining in the EU. That’s not to say that the European Union is perfect. Far from it – I’m as frustrated as anyone with many of the failings of the EU. However I’m not persuaded that we’ll be better off out and almost every respectable forecast suggests that we’ll be worse off – fewer jobs, fewer opportunities and higher prices in the shops for us and for our families.
I’m glad that we’re having this referendum. The British people haven’t had a direct say on our relationship with Europe since almost a decade before I was even born. The beauty of the referendum is that my vote and your vote count just the same as those of David Cameron, Michael Gove or Jeremy Corbyn.
On 23rd June we are all equal and I will respect whatever the people of Britain decide. There are principled arguments on both sides although I have become increasingly frustrated with the misleading and over-simplistic arguments put forward by Vote Leave recently. I’d highly recommend the impartial guide provided by Martin Lewis, the Money Saving Expert.
I hope that you will vote to remain next Thursday but I would love to hear your views regardless of how you intend to vote – if there is anything you would like to discuss please don’t hesitate to get in touch!