THE simplest of tributes are invariably the most profound and this was certainly the case when Jo Cox’s constituents paid their heartfelt respects to their MP. Lost for words, many mourners who made their way to the makeshift memorial in Birstall, close to the spot where the mother-of-two was shot and stabbed to death, simply said: “She was one of us.”
They might have only been five short words – but they still spoke volumes about a one-off politician who they also regarded as a friend after the Batley & Spen MP’s election in May last year. This is a grief-stricken community which has lost its champion and which will still be struggling to come to terms with the trauma of this tragedy long after the world’s media have moved on. Another floral tribute said simply: “You lived for others.”
What was remarkable about Jo, who was only elected in May last year, was that she was universally admired and respected by all because she was a conciliator who knew how to make a difference.
A desperately difficult day for the communities in the Spen Valley which the fearless and tireless 41-year-old was proud to call home, it was no less challenging for the country’s shellshocked political leaders as a stony-faced David Cameron, Jeremy Corbyn and other senior politicians paid their respects in a rare – and heartfelt – show of unity before confirming that Parliament will be recalled on Monday for further tributes.
Stood in sombre silence at 1.48pm, precisely the moment Jo died 24 hours previously, the Prime Minister described how he first encountered Jo a decade ago in Darfur where the Yorkshirewoman was doing what she did best, saving the lives of refugees.
Quite rightly, he highlighted how public service goes to the core of political life in a democracy which will not be cowed by the “well of hatred” that Mr Corbyn blamed for his colleague’s death.
The best tribute of all to Jo is making sure that issues which she championed, such as the plight of those autism sufferers left with insufficient support or increased recognition about the social needs of the lonely and isolated, and many more, are not forgotten because this force of nature is no longer here to speak up for the less fortunate. It is imperative that her work is not left unfinished as a result of this tragedy beyond tragedy.