Today, June 16th 2017, marks the first anniversary of the death of Labour MP for Batley and Spen, Jo Cox, at the hands of a terrorist.
A year ago, Jo Cox MP, was murdered, in broad daylight, outside of Birstall Library, in her constituency of Batley and Spen. In commemoration of this event, I would like to share a few words which I wrote on the night of Jo Cox’s murder. In her memory, I sincerely hope that we follow her call, in that there is more that unites us than that which divides.
Today was the darkest day in Labour history, at least in my opinion. The 16th June 2016 will be remembered always by my Party because of the sheer waste and horror of what took place today.
For a year I have been a member, immersed myself in leafleting and writing Facebook posts and I thought that the night of 8th May 2015 would live in my memory as the nadir of my political life. How awfully, awfully wrong I was.
This morning was like any other. The EU campaign continued to climb to dizzying heights of rhetoric and I had for revise for a Physics GCSE exam, the following day. Too, in West Yorkshire, another Labour member, this one MP for Batley and Spen, had woken up and left to venture out into her community for day of constituency surgery.
Jo Cox MP. I hadn’t heard to her before about 12 o’clock, as I was procrastinating from my work. A few words from Red Labour in my news feed along the lines of : MP Jo Cox shot and stabbed.
What? Shot and stabbed? An MP? I told my Dad, intrigued as to the story and began to see countless stories now. The New Statesman, BBC, Sky and Jeremy Corbyn’s page, all mentioning a horrific attack on somewhere called Birstall.
My attention was caught, anxious for my fellow Party member. What has happened? Was she OK? I began to follow the BBC’s Livefeed, refreshing every few moments, posting a link to the story on my Facebook page, wanting others to know at what was unfolding. I checked Twitter, hosts of Tweets from every party, every politician, a nation united in shock. I posted on one of the stories, hoping she would survive but, little did we know, she had already died at the LGI from her ungodly wounds.
I tried to get back to the revision cards when my Dad stuck his head around the door, sombre. ‘She’s dead.’
Two words that brought a nation to tears and politics to a silent halt. Without a word I switched on the TV. West Yorkshire police announcing what we’d all feared. Jo Cox was dead. Gunned down and stabbed in the streets of her community, broad daylight. Monstrous.
Immediately I posted a link to the news, messageless, a pit in my stomach growing every second.
Dead. Murdered. The true horror of the situation sank in like water in sand over the next few hours. The picture of the day filtered through, piercing in its detail. It shook me, to know that one of my fellows, a common champion of my ideas, had been killed for it. I welled up, as MP after MP added to the solemn screen on my feed filled with sorrow and sadness and a sense of emptiness at the situation.
I visited her website for the local constituency. It pained me to see this smiling, short, firecracker of a personality, as described by her constituents and friends, pictured grinning by charity collectors and speaking with kids, with her surgeries timetabled in. My eye fell on today’s, at Birstall Library and I could feel the pressure build in my head. I looked at the next one, scheduled for early July and closed the website in pure sadness.
What got to me most was the response. The magnitude of the pain was astonishing. The juggernauts of the EU campaign had announced, simply, that they were suspending campaigning. Their messages conveyed only respect and sympathy, as did so many others that I was loathe to even look at the previous day. I scrolled through statements from Farage, Vote Leave, Cameron and the Conservatives and felt no anger, no partisanal feeling. It felt like nothing mattered. The Brexit campaign, budgets, parties, ideologies, opinions held nothing. We were all united in grief, at the loss of a spark of pure life, of love and of laughter. That night when watching the news, when so often I would comment and remark at the Ministers and Conservatives, I was silent. I didn’t see Jeremy Corbyn, teary eyed, Cameron with short breaths and Theresa May, voice low, I saw humans sharing a moment to remember and hope for one they had lost.
After the news, the analysis of the life, the interviews with her Labour fellows, all in shock and disbelief I thought back to this morning. Both Jo and I woke up with a day ahead. Neither of us could have imagined, as we ate our breakfast, or met with residents that one of us wouldn’t live to see the sunset or a nation in mourning for such wasted life.
That was when I think I knew that this was nothing like anything before. Elections and their losses, petty debates over ties and suits, whether your colours as blue or red, EU or Out or anything else, all paled to something basically unimaginable to understand, that one so bright and human, so kind and caring for Syrians and immigrants and her people, could have her life ended so swiftly and in such an undeserving manner.
And so I say, as the clock nears midnight, that today was the darkest day in Labour’s history and I hope it remains as such for I truly, truly and honestly, cannot imagine anything worse happening in the future. Today we saw a martyr to our cause. I pray that we won’t have to remember such a date as this again.