Thursday, 16 June 2016

In My Thoughts

Jo Cox, MP for Batley & Spen
Jo Cox, MP for Batley & Spen - image from jocox.org.uk.

I never knew Jo Cox but I followed the news of her shooting outside her constituency surgery meeting all afternoon and, when police announced she was dead at their 5 pm press conference, I cried. I cried not only because it is so senseless, that a mum to two young girls will never see them again, but because a tragedy like this has always been a case of 'when' and not 'if'.

When you get elected, at whatever level, you're usually given a leaflet with advice on the dangers of visiting constituents' homes, and why you should stick to well lit areas after public meetings lest someone has been particularly riled by what you've said. You laugh it off but it's still there, in the back of your mind, that worry that it can and does happen.

Back in 2010 Stephen Timms, a Labour MP for East Ham, was stabbed twice in the stomach at a constituency surgery, and in 2000 Cllr Andrew Pennington was killed and MP Nigel Jones stabbed during an attack at their joint surgery. In a survey carried out earlier this year 1 in 6 MPs said they had been subjected to at least an attempted attack because of their job, and threats of violence and death are sadly not a rarity.

I've written before about the way getting involved in politics can make you a target, and a quick google for that post found me three councillors who had made the news after receiving death threats in the first half of 2015. There are plenty more similar cases - both reported and unreported - out there. Mostly it will never go beyond empty threats, or hurtful words, and I wouldn't want to see a world where you could only speak to your MP in the presence of security.

But I hope Jo Cox's death reminds everyone that behind somebody's public face - no matter what their job is, be it politician, police officer, nurse, bus driver, etc - is a human being. A person with family, and friends, and hopes and worries, just like the rest of us.

As humans, agreement tends to be something rare and fleeting, but surely we can agree on one thing:

Violence is never the answer.





2 comments:

  1. Sadly there is more meaningless violence in the world now than it was a decade ago...
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