I am finding it very difficult to find the right words to express my shock, horror and anger at today’s events.
Yesterday the referendum campaign descended into farce with a mock sea-battle on the Thames. Today began with Nigel Farage using imagery lifted straight from 1930s Nazi propaganda, and ended with the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox. While there appear to be conflicting eye-witness reports, much of what we’ve heard suggests the killer was a supporter of the far-right.
David Cameron’s decision to call a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union was a spectacular political miscalculation in the first place. It has unleashed dark forces into British politics which will prove very difficult to banish. The Leave Campaign and their supporters in the press, especially The Daily Mail, have been steadily ratcheting up the racist rhetoric in the past weeks; they’re not even bothering with the dog whistle any more. It’s hardly surprising they have the far-right marching under their banner.
In this increasingly ugly atmosphere, it was only a matter of time before something like this was going to happen.
I knew very little about Jo Cox, but the tributes I’ve seen flowing paint a picture of a woman dedicated to making the world a better place. She was a reminder that the majority of MPs across all parties are essentially good people; that the sociopaths, demagogues, charlatans and cynical careerists that exist in all parties too are a minority.
When something like this happens, it’s easy to give in to hate. To rage against the people whose rhetoric empowered the ugliness that took an innocent life. They need to be called to account, yes. But more hate won’t break the cycle.