Barry Gardiner

Working Hard for Brent North

Barry pays tribute to Jo Cox

Barry has paid tribute to Jo Cox, the MP who was murdered on Thursday. 

"Jo was a wonderful person and a great colleague, who devoted her life to helping people. She was somebody who was full of good humour, always positive, bright and focused.

Anyone who takes a look at the speech she gave to Parliament on Syrian refugee children will understand the things that inspired her – she believed we had a moral responsibility to step up and help them. That was all she wanted to do: help people.

Perhaps we all need to take a step back and wonder what state our politics has descended to that such a person could be murdered for her views.

We should reflect on the confrontational and unkind nature of political debate and question whether it might not be better to disagree with someone's politics whilst still respecting them as a person, rather than always vilifying public figures as wicked, corrupt or evil.

Yesterday, in the aftermath of Jo's death, MPs were summoned to a security briefing with the the Commissioner of the Met and the Home Secretary. But God forbid that we should ever have to feel afraid of our constituents. As MPs we should have no other purpose than to serve and help the people we are elected to represent. It is our role to be their champions and advocates, and represent them to the offices and bureaucracies who they feel are blocking their lives. But we do need to foster a kindlier style of political debate that does not always seek to denigrate those in public office.

Almost every politician I know, whichever party they are from, has stood for election  because they felt a need to serve or an anger at how institutions were failing people. Most people in Parliament are decent people –  To be sure, Jo stood out; she was super intelligent, super fun and a loving and charming person -- but in her desire to help people she was no different.

Perhaps we will honour her extraordinary life best by trying to live as she did: helping others and always seeing the potential for good in every situation and in every other human being."

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