“We suffered a tragedy not one of us could have thought would happen in our country. And we picked ourselves up and sorted ourselves out as all good British people do, and I thought, let us stand together for we are British! They were trying to destroy the fundamental freedom that is the birth-right of every British citizen, freedom, justice and democracy.” Margaret Thatcher, 20th October 1984 – speech to Finchley Conservatives after the Brighton Bombing
I am thoroughly shocked and appalled that a serving lady MP was assassinated on the streets of the U.K. – in a northern diverse town such as Birstall. That’s exactly what a terrorist attack is – to terrify people in to believing that nowhere is safe and to make people fear. To call it anything else is downgrading the atrocity of what happened. It is despicable.
Jo Cox MP was younger than me – she was 41 years old – and has been killed in her prime. I did not know her but the shock of such an assassination has reverberated with me here in Bangalore, India. It is truly a devastatingly sad day for her family and friends and also for her constituents that knew her. The grief being suffered must feel unbearable. Brendan Cox (her husband) is now a widower single dad with two children to raise whilst suffering unimaginable grief. My heart breaks. It is hard to imagine how he will be able to take the next breath after such an unjustified attack on a defenceless woman, his wife.
On 16 June 2016, Jo Cox was assassinated by being shot and stabbed multiple times. She is the first ever sitting lady MP to be assassinated. Jo Cox was in Birstall where she had been holding a surgery with her constituents. She died from her injuries approximately an hour after the attack. A 52-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the muder and assassination and the police are not looking for anyone else.
Who was Jo Cox MP?
Helen Joanne “Jo” Cox (22 June 1974 – 16 June 2016) was a British UK Labour Party politician. She was the Member of Parliament (MP) for the constituency of Batley and Spen from her election in May 2015 until her murder 13 months later in June 2016, having retained the seat with an increased majority for Labour in the 2015 general election. She was Chair of the National Labour Women’s Network amongst other things and was renowned for her campaigns for Syrian refugees amongst other humanitarian issues working for both Oxfam and then the anti slavery charity the Freedom Fund.
Jo Cox MP was a wife and mother to two small children. She lived on a houseboat on the Thames and was part of the small community there.
List of serving MPs who have been assassinated
It is very rare for a serving MP to be assassinated. There have only ever been 8 ever. Jo Cox is the first serving lady MP to be assassinated. Serving MPs assassinated are listed below.
11 May 1812 Spencer Perceval (MP for Northampton) by John Bellingham regarding personal debt. The only British prime minister to be assassinated, shot dead in the lobby of the House of Commons.
6 May 1882 Lord Frederick Cavendish (MP for Northern West Riding of Yorkshire) by James Carey and others (members of the Irish National Invincibles) regarding Irish republicanism. The serving Chief Secretary for Ireland; died in the Phoenix Park Murders in Dublin.
22 June 1922 Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson, Bt (MP for North Down) by Reginald Dunne and Joseph O’Sullivan (members of the Irish Republican Army) regarding Irish republicanism. Killed outside his home in Eaton Square, London.
30 March 1979 Airey Neave (MP for Abingdon) by members of the Irish National Liberation Army regarding Irish republicanism. Killed in a car bombing outside the Palace of Westminster.
14 November 1981 Rev. Robert Bradford (MP for Belfast South) by members of the Provisional IRA regarding Irish republicanism. Murdered during a speech at Finaghy in Belfast.
12 October 1984 Sir Anthony Berry (MP for Enfield Southgate) by members of the Provisional IRA regarding Irish republicanism. Killed in the Brighton hotel bombing.
30 July 1990 Ian Gow (MP for Eastbourne) by members of the Provisional IRA regarding Irish republicanism. Killed by a car bomb near his home in East Sussex.
16 June 2016 Jo Cox (MP for Batley and Spen) by suspect Thomas Mair (charged with murder on 18th June 2016) regarding the EU Referendum campaign* (under investigation). Died of injuries from being shot twice at close range and being stabbed in the street after a constituents’ surgery in Birstall, West Yorkshire. First serving lady MP to be assassinated.
A grieving father has to find the strength to smother his children with love, protect them from the media gaze and try to explain in the future what a wonderful wife and mother Jo Cox MP was to them. I can’t imagine any explanation sufficient for her horrific terrorist assassination. I hope in the coming days, months and years the family is surrounded by love and support from all those who know them.
There will be questions about security of MPs and no doubt all security will be reviewed. That will never stop a terrorist who is determined to murder but enhancing security will lessen their opportunities to do so.
There will be much soul searching as people look at the media, the recent referendum campaign and the way it has been portrayed and divided a Nation. Pumping fear into people’s lives on a daily basis (from both sides of the campaign) will result in some of it starting to stick and become reality. It is no good the educated elite stating “it was only a campaign” or something similar – vulnerable people, people with mental health issues and extremists will hold onto every word and some may act upon it. There has to be change. The electorate are fed up of being lied to and not being given facts. It simply has to stop.
What is important that intolerance is removed from our society in future – we must pull together and love each other more. We must love each other for our differences as well as our similarities. It is what makes Britain great. We are a great democratic nation and we must tolerate differences of opinion but we must not tolerate poisonous hatred and violence in any way, shape or form. That would be a disservice to the memory of Jo Cox MP. Evil should never be allowed to triumph over good. Ever.
#RIP Jo Cox MP
* Thomas Mair gave his name as “Death to traitors, freedom for Britain” when he appeared in Westminster Magistrates Court on 18th June 2016
Update 23rd November 2016
Thomas Mair was jailed for a whole life term after being found guilty of the murder of Jo Cox. The motive was found to be to advance a political cause of white supremacism, associated with Nazism. The judge concluded that the offence was so exceptional that it had to be marked with a whole life sentence. Thomas Mair can only be released by the Home Secretary. He is likely to die in jail.