The Killing of Jo Cox MP: Have the chickens finally come home to roost concerning the cultivation of 'difference' within the UK?
Jo Cox, a British Labour member of parliament died on Thursday 16th June, after being shot and stabbed outside her constituency surgery in Birstall, West Yorkshire. The unprovoked attack is being investigated by police as an attack motivated by far-right political extremism after eyewitnesses claimed the gunman shouted 'Britain first' as he carried out the horrific and sustained attack.
Britain First is a British nationalist political party which campaigns against immigration, multiculturalism and Islam, and although the group have moved to distance themselves from the Killing, photos circulating the internet seem to confirm that the attacker was active to some degree within the movement. The man accused of murdering the Labour MP has been now remanded in custody after a court hearing in which he initially gave his name as 'death to traitors and freedom for Britain', as well as giving his occupation to the courts as a 'political activist'. Material relating to extreme right wing and white supremacist organisations are also reported by the police to have been found at his home, along with newspaper articles about the left wing, Labour MP herself. Therefore, the indications are that the murder may indeed have been motivated by a political ideology that saw Jo Cox as a threat to Britain in some shape or form. Jo Cox's husband, Brendan Cox, in a recent interview to BBC news, himself believes that Mrs Cox was killed because of her political beliefs.
Before becoming an MP, Jo Cox helped form the pro-European campaign group Britain in Europe, had also worked for the charity Oxfam for ten years, for the Bill Gates Foundation and for also an anti-slavery charity. Within the House of Commons, Mrs Cox pushed for the UK to accept more child refugees from Syria and had launched the All Party Parliamentary Friends of Syria group. She was considered as one of the rising stars of the current Labour party movement, and a strong supporter and activist for the pro-European referendum 'remain' campaign. A referendum that will decide Britain's future within Europe this week. Jo Cox was in many respects a decent politician, one that truly cared about other people but one perceived as being on the (moderate) left-wing of Britain's political spectrum. Jo Cox was definitely not a person who could be portrayed as a 'left wing loony'.
A large section of Britain's media arguably moved to play down the obvious political motivation of this horrendous crime, with some at first even portraying the attack as one primarily motivated by mental illness rather than a brutal murder motivated by political ideology. However, the murder sadly mirrors the case of Lee Rigby in 2013, a soldier murdered by two men in London, one of whom who did have a long history of mental illness but who also happened to be Muslim. Whereby this equally horrendous act became deemed by the media to be one primarily of terrorism and not of mental illness. A brutal incident backed up negative government rhetoric and arguably a predominantly anti-Islamic press, which saw hate crimes committed against Muslims actually increase within the few short months following the murder, from 336 in 2012 to 500 in 2013.
The murder of Jo Cox MP has therefore re-opened a debate over a number of important issues. The first one concerns the intentional or unintentional stirring up of hatred and animosity by British politicians and our media towards a number of social groups - social groups that include Muslims, immigrants, refugees, the unemployed and disabled people. Secondly, the way violent events become politicized in order to back up one political standpoint or another. Finally, the degree of influence that negative political or media rhetoric may actually have on the attitudes and behaviours of others. Negative rhetoric that builds upon the perceived 'difference' of another individual, upon their supposed 'deviancy' and 'immorality', and primarily to sell some form of political ideology or political policy.
The last concern has been a highly contentious issue for many years. Hate crime motivated towards race, religion, homophobia and disability is always generally reported as being far higher within the UK than it is anywhere within Europe. This is traditionally regarded as an indication of the poor official recording methods of hate crime elsewhere, rather than being a true reflection of the UK as the European capital of Muslim bashing, gay bashing and disabled bashing. However, this is an area that is still greatly under-researched, and it is certainly an area that may ask in the future some very serious and awkward questions about how tolerant we Brits actually are towards other people and towards 'difference' in general.
For many years, I have felt that Britain has become a less tolerant and much more hateful, fearful nation and one becoming increasingly racist, sexist, anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim, homophobic and disablist. My views may actually be also backed up by the stats. British transport police recently reported that race hate crimes on Britain's railway networks have risen by 37% in the past five years. Official Home Office figures revealed in 2015 that the number of homophobic hate crimes reported to police increased by nearly a 25% last year. Disability hate crimes are reported to be up by 20% nationally compared to previous years, and by more than 200% in some regions. Domestic violence against women is also increasing with a record number of people in 2015 convicted of violent crimes against women.
So, what's the cause? Negative political rhetoric? A highly toxic and obnoxious media? Austerity? Pornography? Drug abuse? Alcohol abuse? You pay your money and you take your choice. Certainly, we live in an UK which does seem to becoming an increasingly hostile place to live, where knife crime (up 9%), sexual offences (up 29%) and murder (up 11%) are now all on the increase compared to 2014/2015. An nation that tends to look backward rather than looking forward, and where if you switch on TV on most days you are highly likely to find programmes about our 'glory' years – The industrial revolution, Victorian Britain, The British Empire, World War II and of course, England's 1966 world cup victory!
However, pick up a newspaper and by contrast you will find how Britain is now dominated and robbed by the European Union, how hoard's of economic migrates are camped in France ready to invade us, how foreigners take all our jobs, drive down wages and rape our women, how our army has no money to fight a war, and how our fraudulent, immoral unemployed and disabled live a life of riches off the backs of the rest of us. A little nation that once punched above its weight and ruled the world, but where the actions of 'other' people have now brought us down to being just a sad, little (bankrupt) nation. Certainly, not everybody believes all this nonsense printed in the press, but many may do and some of those may even react to it.
In my heart of hearts, I don't actually believe that the deliberate negative political and media targeting of Muslims, our unemployed, our disabled or even our loony left wingers is an action deliberately intended to get people to commit atrocities such as the killing of Jo Cox, or even to bash a few Muslims and tip disabled people out of wheelchairs. However, such negative rhetoric is indeed deliberately undertaken, not only to mislead the general public in order to gain political advantage by manipulating public opinion, but also to put public pressure on the 'wayward' social group under question. A game of chess played out by our political establishment and its media wing, but a game highlighted by the killing of Jo Cox to be a highly dangerous one. A murder that indicates that some people DO take notice of the nonsense that our politicians and media generate.
Britain's political establishment is therefore in understandable shock at the moment, especially considering the implications of what this sad event may have for the security of our politicians themselves. Jo Cox is the first sitting MP to be killed in more than 20 years, after Eastbourne MP Ian Gow, a former private parliamentary secretary to Margaret Thatcher was killed by an IRA car bomb in 1990 and Sir Anthony Berry MP died in the IRA bombing of Brighton's Grand Hotel. However, a number of MP's have been attacked within recent times, indicating the growing distrust and anger that many Brits now feel towards our political system and its representatives. Anger that some politicians have arguably generated themselves by deliberately feeding the public misinformation, half-truths and lies over issues such as immigration, the economy, unemployment and disability.
If you use the expression "the chickens are coming home to roost" within the UK, you mean that bad or silly things done in the past are beginning to cause a serious problem now. So, for any good is to come out of the sad death of Jo Cox MP, then our more extreme, more self-interested politicians and their equally self-interested media arm, need to stop generating fear, anger and hatred over 'difference', be it a difference of skin colour, religion, sexuality, gender, disability or politics. Otherwise, it is quite certain that the chickens will continue to come home to roost, one way or another, and will do so until our political establishment and our media change its direction - once and for all.