As we know, the tragic and senseless murder of Jo Cox MP last Thursday resulted in a brief suspension in campaigning for today’s European Referendum. Political leaders and commentators called on the public and fellow politicians to take a moment to reflect on the causes of her death, the nature of political campaigning and to remember the life of Jo Cox.
Was the style of campaigning too aggressive and confrontational? Did this create the conditions for some crazed lunatic to go and kill someone? Maybe it did, but without further information on the killer and his mental state, I think it’s far too soon to suggest a definite causal link.
However I’d like to briefly look at this in the context of a number of concerns with what’s going on with our country right now. For instance, the week leading up to Jo’s death was dominated by daily reports of English football hooliganism in France at the Euro 2016 championships. Why is it that (some) English fans are not able to behave at major tournaments? We’re one of the richest economy on the planet. We’re supposed to be a civilised society so why on earth do a minority of fans feel the need to carry on in this aggressive and violent manner at football tournament, where all that’s at stake is national pride? Furthermore, look at how so many footballers are behaving badly on the pitch (and I don’t mean the performance of the England players). I refer to those who constantly harangue referees over decisions or cheat to gain a competitive advantage. Has this been setting a bad example that fans are mimicking?
There is anger on the streets on England too. The rise of the mobile phone means more of this is recorded than previously was the case. There seems to be more street fights, murders and attacks on the vulnerable – elderly adults and innocent young children. Road rage is commonplace too.
Non-violent attacks have increase exponentially on-line via Twitter and Facebook, where MP’s and many other prominent/less prominent people are attacked on-line for holding strong views, which others disagree with. This trolling that goes on of some people is out of all proportion to the so called “offence”. Even the late Jo Cox MP herself had been subject to it in her one year of being an MP.
Some TV shows and radio chat shows e.g. ‘Have I Got News For You’ and ‘Mock The Week’ frequently showcase a disdain for politicians, mocking them as being almost beneath contempt and unworthy, when the reality is that many are hard working individuals who entered politics to make a difference for their constituents, their country and the world at large.
Comedians can regularly be seen displaying their anger on stage. Rhod Gilbert famously channels his anger into comedic routines and has admitted to suffering anger management problems and once sought therapy for this.
Just last Friday I saw top comedian Reginald d Hunter performing. A mobile phone went off mid-performance. He stopped to allow the person to deal with their phone. He made a point of saying he wasn’t angry but could get so if the matter wasn’t dealt with. It was. Quickly. He moved on with the show. Most comedians I suspect would have had fun with such a relatively mundane occupational hazard and quickly incorporated it into the comedy, but he felt the need to just stop the show.
Politicians themselves never give an inch when it comes to the tribalism of politics. I wouldn’t actually change that. Where there is clear division between parties it is fine for MP’s to debate vigorously for their viewpoint. The fiercely debated EU referendum has brought this into sharp focus. The issues at stake were huge and defining moments for the country – as they concern the economy, sovereignty, control of our country and it’s borders, plus so much more, so you expect everyone to give their all to win the debate and secure votes.
Even on this, which is meant to be non-party political, some are reluctant to appear to be on the same side as rival parties. For instance, the official line of the Labour Party is that they are pro-remain, but you’d be hard pressed to recall the Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn campaigning vigorously for remain throughout this long campaign. In fact, it took the terrible death of Jo Cox for him to even share a platform with the Prime Minister David Cameron. They stood side by side when making statements at the memorial for Jo Cox in Birstall, West Yorkshire, last Friday afternoon.
Thomas Mair appeared to have clear far right, extremist views allied to some mental health issues. We don’t know the extent of the latter and how they impacted his life.
Judging by comments from neighbours and those who knew him they do not so far appear to be that serious or extreme that anyone considered anything like this to be feasible or excusable by way of mental health.
So, why, aged 52, all of a sudden, did he become a murderer, seemingly just because of the referendum and the pro-remain stance taken by his MP, Jo Cox? He appears to be keen for his country to put Britain First and to be anti-immigration. That’s not an unusual or even an unpopular view. You could reasonably argue that successive governments have not done enough to address the public’s genuine concerns over immigration, but of course that should never have resulted in the death of an entirely innocent, hard working MP.
One thing it highlighted in the most horrific manner is the passion and ugly hatred by some in society for what they perceive as uncontrolled immigration and fears this could increase in the coming years to the perceived and maybe real detriment of indigenous English citizens.
Taking into account all of the above factors – ‘angry Britain’, a pervasive, selfish me first attitude, immigration, aggressive and confrontational political discourse, the anonymity and ubiquity of social media – have we somehow created a society full of hatred, which bred the conditions for some crazy to act out their hatred in the most heinous way imaginable?
© Tiemo Talk of the Town