Until now my home town of Birstall was known (famous would be too strong a word) for being the birthplace of the celebrated 18th century scientist, Joseph Priestley, who did pioneering work on electricity, discovered oxygen and, for the benefit of schoolchildren world-wide, the erasing properties of rubber and how to put fizz into drinks. Our other main claim to be of interest was that Charlotte Bronte visited our late Elizabethan manor house, Oakwell Hall, and used it as the model for "Fieldhead" in her novel Shirley.
Sadly, since 16th June 2016 people will now associate Birstall with the murder of our promising and principled Member of Parliament, Jo Cox, outside our library.
Nothing said now can possibly ease the grieving of her family, friends, and those who knew and worked with her. However the praise lavished on her by almost all the media, as a dedicated, enthusiastic, warm and knowledgeable campaigner for the under-privileged, not only in this country but in the poorer parts of the world, could do something to dispel the generally held view of our politicians as unprincipled, all alike, and "only in it for themselves." There are in truth many exceptions, and Jo Cox was clearly one of them.
Her husband Brendan Cox has called on us to : ". . .unite against the hatred that killed her. Hate doesn't have a creed, race or religion. . ." and tells us that "Jo believed in a better world and fought for it every day of her life."
Her belief that a better world is possible, supported by, among other things, her dedicated work for Oxfam and her campaign for Britain to take in more refugee children from Syria, are in stark contrast to the tawdry level to which the Referendum campaign has now sunk. In essence:-
- the Remain campaign has distilled into the assertion that we should vote for "In" because that will make us (not the poor of the world, nor the poorer parts of the EU, just us) even richer (and I'm not so sure how comprehensive that us is)
- The Leave campaign has distilled into a demand that we vote for "Out" so that we can take control of our borders so as to keep out the foreigners.