A life cut short: Some reflections on the murder of Jo Cox MP

Written by Nick Maurice.

The murder of the Labour MP, Jo Cox, in broad daylight in the centre of the Yorkshire town of Birstall in her constituency, a town apparently proud of its diversity and sense of community, while on her way to the local library to listen to the problems of her constituents, has shocked and appalled us all.

What a terrible poignancy that here was a young woman, a daughter, a wife and mother of two young children, and one’s heart goes out to all her family, who had spent her life in the service of others and yet was gunned down in the street.

Jo Cox, we read, had worked for Oxfam, Save the Children, Amnesty International both here in the UK and in places of conflict such as Darfur in Western Sudan.  She was head of global policy at Oxfam.  She showed particular concern for the people of Syria and spoke passionately on the subject in the Commons, abstaining on the vote on military intervention.

All the tributes that one reads about her testify to her internationalism, her humanity and concern for others, her warmth, her humour and her love.  SO, WHY? WHY? WHY?

One reads reports of her attacker shouting “Britain First!” and that allegedly he was a loner with mental health problems and links to far right organisations.  Whatever the truth of these reports, we shall almost certainly never fully understand the motivation of her murderer.

But one cannot but reflect on the political and social environment in which this attack happened.  The best possible legacy that could come from this ghastly event and the fine example of Jo Cox in her far too short life is that we all reflect on the world in which we live and ask ourselves some hard questions about the way we live and conduct our lives and our concern for others.

Are we really happy with the adversarial political system in which some politicians, who surely should be setting an example but rather, particularly at this time of the EU referendum, reduce what should be a profoundly serious debate from which a national consensus could be reached to sensationalist, superficial and very often personal sound bites?  It portrays an atmosphere of hatred even if that hatred does not exist and “we’ll all be best buddies again when the referendum is over”.

And what about the role of social media which seems to be awash with venom targeted at individuals not least people in public life such as MPs, and female MPs in particular, who are threatened with rape and other forms of violence?

The greatest legacy that Jo Cox could possibly leave is that we all remember her for who she clearly was and what she stood for and let’s all reflect on what more we individually and collectively might do to make the world a better and more loving place.

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