Friday 17 June 2016

The death of Labour MP Jo Fox

I feel incredibly sad and shocked at the murder of Labour MP Jo Fox yesterday.

It feels like such a senseless and pointless act on someone who became an MP to make a difference to people's lives.

I have to admit until yesterday I'd never heard of Jo Fox, she was only elected to Parliament in 2015 but she had been involved in Labour Party politics for the last 20 years.

I've heard and read some amazing and heartfelt tributes to her both in terms of her personal and professional qualities and achievements. What stands out is that she was someone who was incredibly intelligent, committed and passionate about the causes she believed in and representing the people of her constituency in the area where she was born and brought up.

It made me think that we live in such cynical times that when we think about politicians there is an almost default reaction that says all politicians are out of touch, career politicians, only interested in themselves. They're all the same, untrustworthy and will say anything to win votes or to further their own careers.

In the last 12 months or so I've started to reconsider this type of cynical and at times lazy stereotype. It's not easy to become an MP and like a lot of careers it takes a huge amount of hard work, commitment, sacrifice, intelligence, passion and luck to get elected and to make a positive contribution to the constituencies and people they are elected to represent.

With almost perfect timing, I came across this article in today's Times by Phillip Collins. He wrote:

"I am tired beyond words of the cynical nonsense spouted every day by professional pundits (as well as amateur ones) that politicians are just in it for themselves, want nothing other than glory or the opportunity to fiddle bath plugs on their parliamentary expenses. Attention must be paid. Most MPs, of all parties, are decent people doing a tough job as well as they can."

I thought this one point sums up perfectly how I feel.

Jo Fox was someone who became an MP after she turned 40, yes she had a life and career outside what we call the 'Westminster bubble' and she didn't have to go into politics. There a many like her. MPs from all sides of the political spectrum, many who were elected in 2010 and 2015 who have gone into politics later on in life not for personal self interest but because they want to dedicate some of their lives to public service. Jo Fox did this and lost her life for it.

I know that in the coming days and weeks we will look back on her death and ask what lessons we can learn about how we discuss and do politics in this country. I hope one lesson we can learn is to remember some of the genuine reasons and sacrifices our MPs make to represent us.

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