I never met Jo Cox. But like most people now, I wish I had.
Learning now, as so many of us, about all her work both before becoming an MP and while she was in Parliament, it’s clear that Jo was an extraordinary person whose compassionate world view ran through everything she did, and how she did it. She was loved and respected by her constituents and on both sides of the House; and she used her power and position to help those in need, whether that was in her humanitarian work for Oxfam or as an MP, helping refugees, chairing the all-party parliamentary group on Syria, and championing measures to help immigrants, women and children.
As Conor Costello of Oxfam said: “She had an amazing capacity to inspire and lead, and a soul-deep commitment to equality and justice that she acted on, every single day.”
And in her death, Jo continues to inspire.
During the May elections, I was proud to wear my very first Labour Party rosette. I wore it all day on May 5th, as I walked into work and around central London, hoping that if the bright ‘VOTE LABOUR’ in the centre of it caught even one person’s eye and made them subliminally take on board that message, like some kind of Derren Brown mind trick, then my job was done.
On the evening of June 16, I went to Parliament Square and wrote a message on the board that had been put out for people to pay their tributes to Jo. And I laid my Labour rosette alongside the flowers and candles that people had left, with a note telling Jo that she inspires me to be a better person.
Because she does.
How Jo Cox chose to live her life, what she decided to do with her precious years on the planet, inspires me to follow her lead. She inspires me to serve my community and help others. She inspires me to speak out loud about my passions and beliefs. She inspires me to reach out to people I may not agree with – because, as she said in her maiden speech to the House of Commons, “we have far more in common than that which divides us”. And she inspires me to just get on and do it – with humour, grace and compassion.
RIP Jo. As I wrote on the board that sad, sad night: you were, are, and always will be an inspiration, to so many people. Thank you for all you gave to the world. It was a much, much better place with you in it – and is immeasurably poorer without you.
Jo’s friends and family have set up a fund in her memory, supporting three charities that were close to her heart. You can donate to it here.