She was one of us: Tears on the cobbles as Birstall remembers MP Jo Cox
IT GREW and it grew and it grew. The pile of flowers adorning the foot of the Joseph Priestley statue in Birstall's marketplace steadily spread onto the cobbles through the morning as a stream of well-wishers arrived to pay their respects.
Flowers were later followed by a teddy bear, a Union flag and then candles.
Mother-of-two Victoria Hills was among those leaving flowers and pausing to remember Mrs Cox who had been attacked just yards away.
She said: “Although people didn’t always know her personally I think she resonated with people in her constituency because she was really authentic.
“I’ve only lived here for ten years but when people who have been here a lot longer speak about her they say that she was ‘one of us’.
“I couldn’t tell you who my MP was before but I knew who she was. Something about her made me think I wanted her to represent me.”
Omar Sheikh, a doctor from Batley, was also among those moved to bring flowers to Birstall.
“I never met Jo myself but when she was out campaigning last year she met my mother and was really warm.
“She listened to her for a long time and at the end she gave her a big hug. You don’t see that kind of personality all the time and that made me vote for her.”
Local residents were followed by MPs from across West Yorkshire and beyond.
Among them political allies and opponents including friends in both camps.
Dewsbury MP Paula Sherriff and Manchester Central MP Lucy Powell were visibly distraught as they left flowers accompanied by Manchester Withington MP Jeff Smith and Karen Rowling, from Ms Sherriff’s office.
But there were smiles too as they read some of the messages left by the statue.
Jason McCartney, Barry Sheerman, Rosie Winterton and Judith Cummins were among other Yorkshire MPs to pay their respects.
Then, almost exactly 24 hours after Mrs Cox died, it was the turn of the political leaders.
Prime Minister David Cameron, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Commons Speaker John Bercow arrived together in a deliberate show of unity, accompanied by Leeds Central MP Hilary Benn and Commons chaplain Rose Hudson-Wilkin.
The Prime Minister said: “If we truly want to honour Jo, then what we should do is recognise that her values - service, community, tolerance - the values she lived by and worked by, those are the values that we need to redouble in our national life in the months and years to come.”
Mr Corbyn said Mrs Cox had been “taken from us in an act of hatred” and had died “in the town she loved, the town she grew up in serving the community she loved”.
Mrs Cox was described by Mr Bercow as a “quite outstanding member of parliament” who had made an “extraordinary impression” since being elected.