Vigils held in memory of murdered Labour MP as a new hate crime hits Britain
By Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST News Service
BIRSTALL, WEST YORKSHIRE, UK (ANS – June 16, 2016) — Vigils have been held for British Labour Member of Parliament, Jo (Helen Joanne) Cox, who died after being shot and stabbed in the street on Thursday, June 16, 2016.
According to the BBC, hundreds of people packed into a church in Birstall, West Yorkshire, on Thursday evening, while a vigil was also held outside the British Parliament in London.
Mrs. Cox’s husband said the mother-of-two had fought for “a better world.”
“Her attacker is reported to have shouted “put Britain first” at least twice. A 52-year-old man, named locally as Tommy Mair, has been arrested,” said the BBC.
“The attack happened not far from Birstall Library, where Mrs. Cox, who was 41, had been holding a constituency surgery on Thursday. She had been the MP for Batley and Spen since last year.”
At St Peter’s Church in her home town in the evening, every pew was full as people, including fellow Labour MPs Yvette Cooper and Dan Jarvis, bowed their heads and consoled each other.
The Bishop of Huddersfield, the Rt. Rev, Dr Jonathan Gibbs, told the service: “She grew up in this community, she lived for this community, she served this community and, in the end, she gave her life for this community.”
Leader of the British Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, was among several MPs to attend an impromptu vigil in Parliament Square in central London.
Mr. Corbyn had earlier paid tribute to Mrs. Cox, saying the country would be “in shock” and describing the MP as a “much-loved colleague.”
Prime Minister David Cameron said: “The death of Jo Cox is a tragedy. She was a committed and caring MP.” US presidential contender Hillary Clinton has also spoken of a “cruel and terrible assassination.”
Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell, who together with Mrs. Cox set up the All Party Parliamentary Working Group on Syria, described her as a “force of nature.”
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, he said she had been a “five-foot bundle of Yorkshire grit and determination absolutely committed to helping other people.”
The BBC reported that Mrs. Cox is the first sitting MP to be killed since 1990, when Ian Gow was the last in a string of politicians to die at the hands of Northern Irish terror groups.
“West Yorkshire Police have so far refused to discuss the possible motive behind the killing despite reports that Mr. Mair had sympathy for far-right groups,” added the BBC.
“Political party Britain First, which boasts of its hatred of white left-wing politicians, issued a video statement on Thursday condemning the attack and said that it had no connection with the incident.”
Cafe owner Clarke Rothwell, who witnessed the attack, told BBC News that he had heard Mrs. Cox’s attacker say ‘Britain first’ or ‘Put Britain first,’ I can’t say which exactly it was, but definitely ‘Britain first’ was what he said when he was shouting – he shouted it at least twice.”
It has also emerged that a man was cautioned earlier this year after Mrs. Cox told police she had received “malicious communications.”
The Metropolitan Police said it was not the same person who had been arrested in Birstall on Thursday.
Mrs. Cox was married to campaigner Brendan Cox, and she had two young children, with the family dividing its time between its constituency home and a river boat on the River Thames.
He said in a statement: “Jo would have no regrets about her life, she lived every day of it to the full. Jo believed in a better world and she fought for it every day of her life with an energy and a zest for life that would exhaust most people.”
Mr. Cox vowed to “work against the hate that killed his wife” and added: “Today is the beginning of a new chapter in our lives. More difficult, more painful, less joyful, less full of love.”
Flags are flying at half-staff above Downing Street, Buckingham Palace and across Whitehall.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said the Queen would write privately to Mrs. Cox’s husband.
Helen Joanne [Jo] Cox first worked in politics after graduating from Cambridge University in 1995, but then built a career working for charities including Oxfam, Save the Children and the NSPCC.
She went to Heckmondwike Grammar School and then became the first person in her family to go to university – reading social and political studies at Cambridge.
After graduating, she worked as an adviser for the Labour MP Joan Walley and then Glenys (now Baroness) Kinnock. By the end of the 1990s she was head of campaigns for the pro-European pressure group Britain in Europe. She also took on further study at the London School of Economics.
She once said, “I’ve been in some horrific situations – where women have been raped repeatedly in Darfur, I’ve been with child soldiers who have been given a Kalashnikov and kill members of their own family in Uganda.
“In Afghanistan I was talking to elders who were world weary of a lack of sustained attention from their own government and from the international community to stop problems early.
“That’s the thing that all of that experience gave me – if you ignore a problem, it gets worse.”
Now she has become a victim of yet another hate crime, and many in the UK (and also in the US) are asking when the hate will stop.
Photo captions: 1) The murdered MP. 2) An impromptu vigil was held in Parliament Square in London. (EPA) 3) MPs including Yvette Cooper attended a vigil in Jo Cox’s home town (Press Association). 4) The arrested man has been named locally as Tommy Mair (Ross Parry). 5) Dan Wooding recording a radio show.
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 75, is an award-winning winning author, broadcaster and journalist born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, Alfred and Anne Wooding. He is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for nearly 53 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren, who all live in the UK. Dan is the founder and international director of the ASSIST News Service (ANS), and the author or co-author of some 45 books, the latest of which is a novel called Mary: My Story from Bethlehem to Calvary (http://marythebook.com). Dan has a weekly radio show and two TV programs all based in Southern California. Before moving to the US, Dan was a senior reporter with two of the UK’s largest circulation newspapers and was also an interviewer for BBC Radio One in London.
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