Why we must honour Jo Cox's maiden speech in wake of Sir David's death - Laura Collins, YEP Editor

It was a maiden speech that epitomised the true measure of her determination, Yorkshire grit and a deep rooted desire to drive change for the better.

Monday, 18th October 2021, 4:45 am
Tributes continue to pour in for Sir David Amess. Picture: PA

As Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox stood up in Parliament for the first time her sentiments of “more in common” echoed well beyond the chambers of power.

And after her tragic death more than five years ago - when she was murdered in her beloved constituency serving the people she cared for - those words continue to reverberate even louder than ever.

Today Parliament will fall silent again as MPs come together to mourn the loss of another colleague following the death of Sir David Amess in his constituency last week.

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Conservative Sir David, 69, who had been an MP since 1983, was meeting constituents at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, on Friday afternoon when he was killed.

It is hard to forget the incredibly touching scene following Jo’s death when a pure white rose was placed in her empty seat in Parliament as her family, friends, constituents and colleagues struggled to come to terms with her death.

The outpouring of grief for our Yorkshire rose in her beloved constituency was palpable - she wasn’t just an MP, she meant so much more to those that she pledged to dedicate her life to.

She was their Jo.

And that sense of collective grief will continue to be felt in Sir David’s constituency as the spotlight of the national and international media glare begin to turn elsewhere.

Ultimately this tragic event poses the questions raised after Jo’s death and the impact this is going to have on democracy.

Safety has to be at the top of the agenda once again.

Since Sir David’s death MPs have been sharing their day-to-day experiences of the threats they face.

It comes as the Home Secretary said yesterday that police could be called in to guard MP’s surgeries to keep them safe.

Priti Patel said protection for MPs while they are holding talks with constituents was one of the options being considered under a “whole spectrum” of measures to address safety concerns.

It is clear that MPs don’t want to cut themselves off from the people they are so proud to serve and nor should they feel fearful about their safety. And in order for democracy to continue to thrive the attention has to be turned towards eradicating the hatred that can stem from politics.

By its very nature the discussions become nothing short of a breeding ground for anger beyond the echo chambers of Parliament.

Social media - while it can perform a lot of good in society - also heightens the political divide and legislation must be toughened up on platforms.

Nobody wants to stifle freedom of speech: it is the very cornerstone of democracy.

And, as the debate over what happens next continues, we should all remember Jo’s wise words: “We are far more united and have far more in common than that which divides us”.

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