One year ago today, the MP Jo Cox was murdered by a fanatical white supremacist.
A brilliant, vivacious woman, Jo was a fierce and passionate campaigner for the dispossessed, the poor, and her constituents. She took a deep interest in issues such as Syria and its refugee crisis, forged by her long experience with Oxfam. A new Parliamentarian, she had so much to give.
But then she was snatched so brutally away.
That day remains etched in my memory. We were at the height of the EU referendum campaign. Hard-right politicians such as Nigel Farage were busy whipping up hatred towards foreigners with the loathsome ‘Breaking Point’ poster and the atmosphere was increasingly toxic.
He left Jo’s husband Brendan to raise their two young children on his own. I was with Brendan the night before Jo died. No-one could have imagined the horrendous events that were to come.
While nothing can bring her back, we can and we will carry on her work. And that is why we are supporting this weekend’s Great Get Together, which will see thousands of community events across the country.
We know we can’t bring Jo Cox back. But we must fight for the world she believed in, a place where we recognise that we have “more in common” than the things that divide us.
We must acknowledge our differences, and we must have difficult conversations – particularly in the light of recent terror attacks and over issues like immigration – but we must also deny the nihilist extremists on both sides of the divide from dictating the world they want us to live in: a place of tension and hatred, of constant division and divide, which would tear our Great Britain apart.
I will not let that happen, nor I am sure will you.
It’s been quite a year since Jo’s murder. Brexit, Donald Trump becoming President of the United States and the recent terrorist attacks. Yet amidst all this there has been humanity at its best. The way Manchester united after the awful bombing and the outpouring of support for the survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire showed the compassion and humanity of the British public.