The death of Jo Cox has shocked the entire world. How can a supposed civilised country, a democracy, allow one of its elected representatives to be murdered in the street just for doing her duty?
Many people from all across the political spectrum have been fulsome in their praise for Jo. That praise is genuine- when she spoke on issues of international development and Syria in particular the whole House would listen. Many MPs never get that response in their entire time in Parliament, but Jo was able to command respect from across the board in such a short space of time because of her outstanding record in this area before she entered Parliament and for the intelligent and articulate way she raised the issues she cared most passionately about. There is no doubt that had she been given the opportunity she would have been a major national figure for many years to come. Jo represented the very best of what we would want to see from our politicians; determined, compassionate, principled and authentic, as can be seen by the way her constituents have overwhelmingly spoken in praise of her.
This tragedy has reminded people that all politicians are human after all. All the Labour MPs who were elected at the same time as Jo have tried to support one other when negotiating the unforgiving environment of Westminster and she very much played her part in that. The fact that so many of us have lost a friend as well as a colleague has made a tough situation harder. The increasing levels of vitriol directed at MPs and other public servants in particular through social media had reached a crescendo in recent months and has taken us far away from the respectful tone that Jo always took when debating difficult issues. I hope that this tragedy can remind us that those who put themselves forward for public service, be it elected representatives or those who work in our schools, hospitals, councils and other public institutions overwhelmingly do so altruistically rather than for their own ends. In particular in the context of what is likely to be a very close and hotly contested referendum I hope that whatever the result, both sides accept the outcome and work constructively on whatever the future brings.
Although I wondered whether I would be able to keep my composure ahead of the hastily organised vigil held in Ellesmere Port on Friday evening I found comfort in the numbers of people who came at short notice from the all over the constituency and beyond and I am truly grateful for that great show of support. The many messages I have had from friends and constituents have also been a source of comfort for me and I thank people for them.
So I have lost a friend, politics has lost one of its best and the world has lost someone who worked tirelessly to make it a better place. But most of all we must remember that a husband and two young children have lost their mother and wife and that is the biggest tragedy of all.