Ian Dunt says that Brexiters must stop trying to police the reaction to Jo Cox’s death.
For the Remain camp the death forced a pause in campaigning just when they needed to get their message out. But for Brexiters it was far worse. In a contest which is fundamentally about risk and the public appetite for a jump into the unknown, the news of a mother being killed in the street seemed to affirm a sense of chaos and impending darkness. It provided an emotional backdrop which gravitated towards concerns about stability and security.
But that’s only half of it. Brexiters aren’t just scared the death will have an impact on the referendum. They’re scared it will force a change in how we talk about immigration. An expectation might develop that the debate be discussed moderately, with as little emotion as possible, and on the basis of facts.
That would be a disaster for the anti-immigration lobby, which is very good at telling stories designed to trigger an emotional response, particularly in those who are struggling to get by. ‘This family of seven just arrived in Britain and now they’re in the council home you didn’t get’ – that type of thing. Sometimes the stories are true. Mostly they are false. But they are all based on highly emotive and divisive attempts to turn the public mood. They reached a pinnacle – for now, if we’re lucky – in the Nigel Farage ‘Breaking Point’ poster.
For those two reasons – Brexit and the continuation of an aggressive anti-immigration debate – Jo Cox’s death needed to be stripped of its political context. It could not be treated as a political killing of a political person, with political causes and political repercussions. It had to be turned into a simple story of personal tragedy. Nothing more
What he says. Jo Cox was a politician who was murdered by someone who was opposed to everything she stood for politically. I’ve had to mute Leave suporters on social media who engaged in precisely the sort of policing Ian Dunt is calling out here. But there was never a peep from the same people over the Leave campaigns gross and inflammatory racism.