I have to be honest and say that I had not heard of Jo Cox MP before she was murdered but what I have learned about her since leads me to think that in a Parliament with few shining progressive stars these days she must have been one of them.
With the Lib Dems severely reduced in numbers, a Labour Party that is inward looking, authoritarian and at war with itself and the SNP looking like an uncomfortable marriage of supposedly social democratic and narrow nationalist values the left of British politics is frankly in a mess.
Jo Cox, we are told was far from being in the usual Labour mold (tribal and authoritarian) so she is both a big loss to Labour and to progressive politics in general. This was well summed up by Nick Clegg (not someone I would usually quote) when he said in a Tweet on the day of her murder – Jo Cox was unusually free of the tribal pettiness of politics – always friendly, cheerful and kind to friend and foe alike.
But as we have all read since the murder people in public office do receive threats. Yes, often they will be from nutters who have no intention or ability to carry out their threats but at the fringes there are the genuinely dangerous crack-pots.
I think I have posted previously about some of the crank mail I got when I was Leader of Sefton Council and how I was warned about it by my predecessor – Labour Cllr. Dave Martin. Indeed, I will never forget his advice ‘Within 6 weeks every nutter in the Borough will know who you are’.
I also recall how my colleague and former Sefton Councillor Andrew Blackburn got some very odd and worrying letters during his time on the Council so threats, hate mail, etc. are sadly what elected folks can and do get at any level of governance.
Where this latest tragedy leaves politics is difficult to say but it must not lead to those who hold elected office becoming more remote from the people who put them there. That is the road to democratic ruin. We must strive to be more open, less tribal and more inclusive in our politics.
And a final word about Jo Cox. I wondered more and more as the story of her all too brief life unfolded in the media how despite her being a Labour MP she came across more like a radical Liberal.
So sad that that this bright star was killed seemingly because of some irrational hatred issues in the head of one man.