Belfast Telegraph

MP Jo Cox murder an attack on democracy itself

Editor's Viewpoint

The murder of Labour MP Jo Cox is all the more shocking because of its apparently random nature and, at this early stage, the lack of any potential motive.

The hard-working MP was shot and stabbed in broad daylight outside a constituency surgery in west Yorkshire. A 52-year-old local man, described by some as a loner, was arrested soon afterwards.

Mrs Cox's husband, Brendan, has urged people to unite to fight the hatred that killed her. Self-evidently, it was a hate crime, but what sparked that hate or what caused her attacker to do this is not immediately clear.

She is the first MP to be killed since the IRA murder of Ian Gow, but before that there were a number of other MPs killed by republicans, including Airey Neave, Sir Anthony Berry and the Rev Robert Bradford.

These were political killings in the strict sense of the word, being part of the IRA campaign to terrorise the British establishment in pursuit of its aim to create an united Ireland by force.

In that respect those murders were more understandable - though equally heinous - than that of Mrs Cox. The fact that she was a woman and a mother-of-two only adds to the horror of her death. Quite rightly, politicians have laid aside their differences and even halted campaigning on the EU referendum in reaction to the murder.

The death of an MP in this manner is an attack on everyone and society as a whole. We elect MPs as our voices in Parliament and place on them the burden of legislating for almost every facet of our everyday lives.

Parliamentary democracy is one of the cornerstones of life in the UK - some might even argue that it is the keystone. It offers the freedom of expression to all who hold lawful beliefs and empowers the public to decide who should be the Government of the day based on the policies the parties put before the electorate.

Jo Cox was a fervent believer in democracy and the power of parliamentarians to help ordinary people, not just in the UK, but wherever aid was needed. She worked with charities in such diverse places as Darfur, Afghanistan and Uganda, and the horrors she witnessed there influenced her career.

Her death may make other MPs consider additional security measures when going about their work and should harden our resolve to have zero tolerance for those who kill for whatever reason.

Belfast Telegraph


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