Jo Cox’s murder is foremost a personal tragedy for her family. Her death is also a real loss to Parliament. I didn't know Jo well but I knew she was one of those people who was born to be an MP. She was everywhere in Parliament. One moment speaking without notes and knowledgeably about Syria, the next in a meeting of the All Party Group on Ending Homelessness. She turned her hand to so many subjects and had seemed to have grasped from the start how to be effective. She was quick of mind, full of life's experiences and someone who in just a year had made many friends and admirers across the House.
We can perhaps try to deduce too much from her violent murder. Her killer’s motives are becoming clear and he could as easily have been in any other constituency and his victim any other MP. In the eleven years I have been an MP, politics has become more venal. There have been times when I have been concerned for my staff and on occasions we have had to involve the police. Other MPs have faced much worse. During the debate on whether to extend military action into Syria I remember a new female MP passing me her iPad to show me a vile email she had just received. It more or less said that if she supported the Government she and her family should expect what is coming to them. A Labour MP told me of the abuse she received from those who disagreed with her choice of who she wanted to lead her party. The threats were physical and went way beyond anything that can be brushed off as part of the “rough and tumble of politics”.
With the referendum campaign suspended at the weekend, I went on to Newbury’s Northbrook Street to hold an open surgery. I found Newbury and West Berkshire at its best. People were engaged on many issues. As usual they were forthright, honest and good natured. Many of the comments related to Jo Cox’s murder and were deeply touching. Being there reminded me why I love my job and why living in an open liberal democracy matters.