By Fay Hough
I’ve wanted to write a blog on Jo Cox for a while now, but words haven’t come that easy. I had heard of Jo a few years back when I became a parent campaigner for The National Autistic Society (NAS), she passionately spoke about Autism many times and was thought of fondly by the NAS.
“Children are waiting on average more than three years for an autism diagnosis. Without a diagnosis funding and support for children do not materialise. It really is important to underline the scale of this problem, and the consequences of it.” – Jo Cox
On the day Jo was killed, a little boy received the autism diagnosis she had helped fight for. Before she died she continuously battled to shorten the long wait parents of autistic children suffer before getting a diagnosis. So, cut a long story short I admired her from the moment I learnt her name.
On the day she passed I felt numb. At this point I had learned so much more about her, about her time working for Oxfam, her time chairing the Labour Women’s Network, and co-chairing the Friends of Syria All Party Parliamentary Group. As far as MP’s go she was pretty perfect. Members of Parliament are meant to represent their constituency to the best of their ability, help their constituents as much as they can, but the public are far from silly and unfortunately there are MPs in Westminster whose egos come before their work.
After watching the recent documentary ‘Jo Cox, Murder of an MP’ it lead me to think about the divide we have in this country, a divide that brought one man to carry out the most horrific attack. The EU referendum was meant to be a referendum about what was best for the United Kingdom. My opinion, is that politicians such as Nigel Farage – who spent the entire campaign attacking immigrants, is not what was best for the United Kingdom. I personally think it’s a very sad state of affairs when humans sit in front of television screens or read newspaper articles of ‘news’ that is edited to make us think that immigrants are bad people.
We’ve all watched the war on Syria unfold in front of our eyes for many, many months now. The people of Syria are desperate to find shelter in another country, to give their children a chance of a full life – not one that’s been cut short by a bomb. Thousands of children have lost, and are still losing, their parents through this ongoing war and have ended up scattered around Europe with a large majority being forced into sex trafficking. Let’s think about this for a second, if this was happening in our country wouldn’t we want to escape? Wouldn’t we want to find safe land? Wouldn’t we want more for our families? So why is it any different for them? What gives Nigel Farage the right to stand in front of hundreds of cameras, with a huge poster on the side of a van telling the world that these immigrants do not deserve a European passport, they do not deserve entry into the United Kingdom. In times of need are we not meant to help? I think it’s absolutely shocking that a debate was held in the commons to discuss whether we should or should not open our gates to Syrian children, when so many other countries were. It makes us look heartless, it makes us look inhumane.
“Jo Cox met Syrian doctors, humanitarians and activists always listening to what they wanted: a stop to the aerial attacks that are the biggest killer of civilians. These attacks come most notoriously in the form of ‘barrel bombs’, the improvised explosives packed with scrap metal and high explosive and rolled out of helicopters. Jo reached across the political divide and led repeated calls with politicians from other parties to protect Syrian civilians from these attacks. This is a position that too few have been brave enough to call for.” – TheSyriancampaign.org
She was that kind of woman. A woman who would stand up in front of hundreds of MPs leading calls of protection. And in the minutes of her laying on the floor in her own pool of blood after being stabbed and shot, she called for her constituency staff to run. She told them not to let him hurt them, “let him hurt me” being her exact words.
Jo was a hero. A hero to so many. A hero to me.
If I end up being half the political activist that she was, I will be extremely happy. Jo Cox is an inspiration to women around the world and her legacy will live on for many years to come.
Rest in peace, Jo.
Fay Hough is the Havering Young Labour Women’s Officer and the Dagenham & Rainham Labour Party Youth Officer.