ONE week on from Jo Cox’s brutal, senseless murder, and I find myself torn about how to express my feelings today.
The shock and the stunned disbelief is the easy bit. That’s the rational reaction of anyone with a semblance of humanity about them. The entire world has been doing that and I declined a BBC opportunity to contribute to that public outpouring at the weekend.
I didn’t know Jo Cox at all, except in what friends and acquaintances said and thought of her. A good person – even if one whose politics I disagree with in large part.
I popped into her office, she was in Westminster. She was here on constituency business and I wasn’t around. No doubt we’d have exchanged handshakes – and possibly opposing views – at some stage. It was not to be.
But the very simple point is that she was the mother of two young children, a young woman going about her life and job with both passion and compassion.
Whatever hell awaits her killer can’t burn hot or long enough, to my mind. Forgiveness? That’s in the domain of whatever god awaits the man. I suspect that’s a reaction held by many, although I equally imagine it’s a reaction that Jo Cox herself might not have subscribed to. In that she was probably a better person than me.
In the past I’ve ridiculed the theatrical emotions the national media has visited on our little part of the West Riding. ‘Dewsbury In Shock’ headlines after a young radicalised Muslim blew himself up under an ISIS flag.
No, Dewsbury not in shock. Dewsbury, barely surprised. Last week was different.
I don’t know if it was the unexpected nature of the act, the fact that she was so young, fresh-faced and innocent – indeed the fact that she was a woman or that the attack was so frenzied and brutal. What perverted level of insanity provokes someone to commit such a heinous, senseless atrocity? On a slip of a girl, for crying out loud.
If you’re going to be barking, howl-at-the-moon mad, go confront someone your own size, you rank coward.
IN the following days, Batley was in a proper daze, literally, a town in shock, regardless of faith or colour.
Ordinary people looked blankly at each other, failing to quite comprehend. I joined the ranks stricken by stunned disbelief.
The global outpouring of respect and grief provided a magnificent backdrop to the voices from Trafalgar Square on Wednesday that echoed round the planet. It created a memorial for the ages and it united the nation – at least until her husband arguably yielded to the temptation to turn it political.
I had no intention of being drawn into that mire and I don’t question Brendan Cox’s right, even within his grief, to invoke his wife’s name – on behalf of which ever side – in the looming referendum.
He told the world it was a political killing – and it may have been. Time will tell.
But better surely to leave the sleaze to the morons who flew a ‘Vote Leave’ banner over the service, not slip in a party political for Jo’s ‘Remain’ beliefs. Isn’t that a dividing rather than uniting sentiment, contrary to the ‘More In Common’ theme? Or are we already seeing the cynical creation of a martyr for one strain of political thought? I so, so hope not.
Certainly I’m glad I didn’t rush to donate to the memorial fund swiftly founded in her name. Do you know what ‘charities’ will benefit?
The very worthy Royal Voluntary Service is one. But of the other two the ironically titled ‘Hope Not Hate’ is a far-left group that espouses too much hatred of anyone disagreeing with it, for most reasonable people’s liking.
And while the ‘White Helmets’ (the Syrian civil defence force) are the emergency response unit of the rebel resistance against President Bashar al-Assad, I do wonder what Mrs Cox made of accusations of its members’ links to al Qaeda and the al Nusra Front. Not cash for the International Red Cross, Save the Children, Oxfam or Unicef, but a specifically partisan group amidst a terrible, chaotic conflict.
The people closest to her did not choose those causes accidentally, despite the depth of their desolation, but I do believe people should know exactly what their sympathies are funding.
In taking this publicly political path Brendan Cox and friends have legitimised people like me at least raising an eyebrow at their motives. I wish they hadn’t.
I’m still uncomfortable, because the only thing of consequence is that this smart, sparky, passionate mother of two, had her life extinguished by a lunatic.
I wish that I’d been there last Thursday lunchtime because whatever anyone’s politics I’d like to think that I wouldn’t have hesitated to get between a vulnerable young woman and her fanatical attacker.
The world’s gone mad.
A FRIEND was understandably concerned about her 15-year-old son’s impending school visit to Paris, given the terror attacks so recently and indeed the ongoing security concerns surrounding the Euro 2016 tournament.
She needn’t have worried. Both the school and our own mighty Home Office civil servants are all over this baby.
Fighting to hold back the tears (of laughter) she told how the school has given each student a card on which is written (in French obviously) “I am lost” along with handy contact phone numbers for any Parisian good Samaritans who happen by.
As a brief aside, I’ve no idea what the plans are if we’ve woken up today (Friday) to a post-EU world. Maybe they’ll scribble out another card saying “At least my mum and dad voted to Remain!”
But the James Bond-like precautions don’t stop there. Oh no.
On the back of the “I’m Lost” card has been stuck a second official Home Office piece of advice, telling the youngsters what to do in case of a terrorist incident.
You’ll love this: 1) Run away. 2) Hide.
Someone probably got paid a fortune to dream that up – but not as much as the person who created the graphic on the government website illustrating good evasive tactics.
It shows two people lifting up a sofa, and someone else hiding under it.
Since when did Ikea or DFS for that matter start making bulletproof sofas?
I DON’T know what kind of a sick narcissist Jack Buckby is, but if I ever found him in danger of drowning in Batley Beck, I’d gladly throw him a discarded shopping trolley to help speed the process.
Buckby is the ‘me-me’ opportunist who was quick out of the blocks to announce that he would stand against Labour in the Batley & Spen by-election to replace Jo Cox.
While the world was still reeling from news of the killing, the far right press officer for something calling itself Liberty GB (which sounds like it’s him and a few bug-eyed, mouth-frothing mates) was effectively hurling insults at Mrs Cox’s memory.
He did everything except accuse her and the Labour party of being responsible for what happened - and didn’t stop far short of that.
It isn’t just Buckby’s rabid, hate-filled political agenda. We are still a democracy and everyone and anyone ultimately has the right to contest any by-election, whatever the circumstances leading to it.
The nasty, disrespectful timing of his announcement, exploiting the gesture from other mainstream parties in saying they wouldn’t contest the seat, was bad enough.
But I also suspect that if there was a regular, contested ballot after a period of respectful reflection, then I doubt we would ever have heard of this nobody. He just used Jo Cox’s murder to seize his 15 minutes in the limelight.
If he has the nerve to go through with his threat and force a by-election however, I hope that he equally has the nerve to go out on the stump, knocking on doors and canvassing local constituents.
He might wish he hadn’t bothered.