I have been thinking about Jo Cox: what if anything will be her legacy?
Jo Cox – the Labour MP who was brutally murdered on 16th June this year – I hadn’t heard of her until her death by murder in the street was announced on the BBC one o’clock News. The media went all of a flutter. We learned many remarkable facts about this woman, emphasising how much she had a heart for the poor and underprivileged of the world.
As one of her friends wrote (Change.UK website) ‘Jo’s life was one of service. Not lip-service, but true service. She was a humanitarian who campaigned for human rights in Darfur and Syria and a strategist who rethought child protection, world trade and education.’
Her mistake seems to’ve been her universalism, her inclusiveness. A quote from her maiden speech in the House of Commons included these words: ‘While we celebrate our diversity … we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.”
The motivation for her killing appears to have been that fear which takes hold of a person, or people, or a country, when threatened, or rather when they think they are threatened. When it appears to them, or they are persuaded, that their livelihood, familiar culture, homes, will be stolen by aliens, their familiar culture smothered, they will become increasingly ignored and deprived.
Isn’t this just what is motivating refugees and migrants who are fleeing from homelands where they face persecution, rape, death by war or terrorism? Or at the least, starvation and poverty?
Ironies of June 2016
Just a week after Jo Cox’s violent death, our country voted whether or not to leave the European Union. I checked the dates: June 16th – June 23rd, 7 days. Her family had behaved with a quiet dignity towards the media hype. Various of our politicians meanwhile continued behaving with arrogance and extreme unpleasantness as they fought their media campaigns.
Then the next irony: just a week later (July 1st), we held public memorials to mark the anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of the Somme (July to November, 1916), which killed many thousands of young British men. And churned up miles of the French countryside, and was one of the worst occurrences of Europe being at war with itself. Indeed the numbers of soldiers killed and wounded, on both sides, is around a million. There surely should be a lesson here.
And, if the EU needs revising – which it does – and if the refugees streaming into the Eastern corners of it are going to survive with lives worth living – then this country will have no say.
You can’t walk out of the family and then expect to influence its decisions.
They are, maybe, people like us …
After the 1939-45 War, Europe was awash with refugees. Britain’s positive aid response was brought into being and organised by new charities Oxfam and Christian Aid. Both still exist, today working in countries such as South Sudan and Syria, often in partnership with the country’s own help agencies. It’s the kind of work Jo Cox was involved with. Today people are on the move in huge numbers … it has happened before … An article I read today, (by Paul Valentin, International director of Christian Aid) gave these figures about refugees within settled populations:
In Jordan, 1 in 3 people is a refugee
In Lebanon, it is 1 in 4
In Britain, it is 1 in 525
Fear and media hype make people fear being over-run. Fear of otherness may make people unable to accept those whose culture is not their own.
Expressing my thoughts about the motivation of Jo’s murderer, a violent acting out of his fears, another member of our family pointed out that ‘Maybe it did make some people think, maybe it made the vote closer. We shall never know, but maybe some people regret …’
Maybe it did.
But with the divisions of our country clearly delineated, the pound down, the hate crimes up, the government in turmoil … this is a sad, ironic, summer … in which we now hunt for hope … I hope for generosity to develop as the whole country looks back on ‘Brexit’ and the other events of June 2016 … and remembers Jo Cox and what she believed in …
And I go on writing … trying to bring to life life the challenges of living today …
Monday 25th July 2.00pm (NOTE: this our recording time – I suspect it may be going out later in the day, after 5.00pm and will post on here to confirm)
I’m talking about my books and Indie Publishing, with Debbie Young of the Alliance of Independent Authors and presenter Eve Ahmed, on
our local TV station … if you are in the UK – even as far away at Cumbria – try to catch us!