Two weeks ago, Jo Cox, MP for Bately and Spen, would have turned 42 had she not been killed in her constituency.
The enormity of her death was clear soon after it was announced, with hundreds of thousands of people around the world paying tribute to her on social media. To commemorate her life, events were organised all around the world for her birthday with world leaders including Barack Obama and David Cameron showing their respect for the woman who devoted her life to bettering the lives of others.
In London, a huge event took place at Trafalgar Square where Lily Allen sang Jo’s favourite song and Malala Yousafzai spoke of the way that Jo “showed us that you can be small but still be a giant”. The mood there was sombre and emotional but despite the sadness, there was a sense of unity. People who had never met joined hands in solidarity for Jo and all that she stood for. It’s been reassuring to see that the same love has been expressed on social media with the viral hashtags #MoreInCommon and #LoveLikeJo which have been used hundreds of thousands of times to share the message that Jo worked tirelessly to promote; that we have more in common than that which divides us.
Despite the message of positivity that’s come from such a tragedy, some MPs have said that they feel unsafe in raising controversial issues as it appears that Jo, according to her husband Brendan, was killed for her political views. Former Scottish MP Ian Murray told ITV that the murder of Jo Cox has made some in office ‘vulnerable’ but insisted that open surgeries are vital. Speaking to Radio 4 Woman’s Hour last week, Jess Phillips, Labour MP and close friend to Jo, acknowledged this but defiantly told listeners that Jo’s death doesn’t make her want to ‘recoil or hide away’ but in fact makes her want to fight harder. She wrote in her article for The Telegraph that from here, we must no longer tolerate this ‘growing environment of publicly viewed hatred and threats of violence’.
In the wake of the sadness that has come from losing such a wonderful member of society, perhaps the momentum gathered online will continue to dominate our feeds and in Jo’s honour, stamp out the hate that Jess, other MPs and people in general, are on the receiving end of.
by Jen McGee