Remembering where you were when some dreadful event happened is almost a cliche. I was in bed when I heard about John Lennon’s assassination, and with hindsight the mundane details of one’s life often throw such things into terrible relief.
I was watching England play Wales in Euro 2016 when I heard about the attack on Jo Cox. I didn’t know who she was or which political party she belonged to. A friend of mine seemed glued to her phone and all she said was, ‘Jo Cox has been stabbed’. I shifted uneasily in my chair thinking, ‘This can wait until later’. Avoiding emotional overload seemed important, and I reinforced my jaded view by sluggishly eating yet another slice of pizza and moaning about professional fouls.
But later as the day unfolded and England’s football hopes got brighter, the full horror of the attack on Jo struck home. This was a very public murder, and an affront to our assumptions about the stability of modern Britain. In a way, it was an assault on our collective right to simply go about our business and be ourselves.
Inevitably, Jo and her family were dragged into the so-called Brexit debate, and people were accused of making political capital out of it. But nothing happens in isolation, and the Leave campaign rapidly escalated a toxic narrative, fracturing deep fault lines across an already disgruntled nation.
Suddenly, the far right, rudderless and disorganised for so long, has been re-energised. We could argue all day about whether or not Jo’s assailant is mentally ill or not but unquestionably, he set out to deliberately destroy an innocent women because of her ideology. Hers, a dialogue of inclusiveness, hope and love. His, a diatribe of Nazi inspired hatred and blind destruction.
The fog of war stirred up by Brexit obscured the dreadful reality of Jo’s assassination. Britain is a divided nation now, factionalised by different belief systems. Rich against poor, In against Out, Right against Left. The gates of Hell are wide open, and a gaggle of foolish Etonians are responsible for pranking open the lock while neatly allocating blame elsewhere. Responsible adults who dare to point out the error of such a move are labelled ‘negative’ or ‘doom-laden’, but we are only speaking the truth. Truth is always the unspoken casualty of conflict, but Britain’s media is no longer capable of suppressing what is blindingly obvious to any thinking person. We have all been royally conned.
We now face the break up of the United Kingdom, fiscal ruin, job losses and the looming possibility of another global recession. As individuals we are shocked by Jo’s death, but collectively we have learned precisely nothing. This is a time for unity and bold decisions but there is no-one in office capable of making it happen. We owe a good woman no less.