Jo Cox was a popular and passionate local MP. Jo’s murder, by a nationalist fanatic, has prompted a hysterical reaction from commentators. The media is awash with paranoid nonsense about a “toxic atmosphere created by the EU Referendum.”
We live near Birstall. My daughter’s school went into lock-down on Thursday when Jo Cox was murdered. There is no ‘heightened tension’, ‘toxic atmosphere’ or anything of the sort.
There is no relationship between the murder of a popular local MP and the EU Referendum – except in the mind of one highly disturbed individual who thinks he’s ‘fighting for a cause’ and a lot of self-styled commentators who live in their own fevered imaginations.
Some people need to get a grip. Quickly.
Firstly, Thomas Mair represents no-one but himself and the cause in his own head. It appears that he associated with far right-wing sects and he made the weapon that killed Jo. His views are not shared by other people locally. Mair was clearly disturbed and intermittently sought treatment for his condition.
Secondly, we do not live in the 1970s when the National Front had a significant following. We do not live in the 1980s when the police sparked riots by systematically targeting young black men encouraged by media campaigns on street crime and ‘black muggers’. I remember the defence of asian families against harassment on council estates in Bradford. I remember the National Front attacking street stall campaigners defending African immigrants against deportation. Racism in society reflected the politics of the time and we live in very different times. Overt racism is now rare and when it is expressed, it does not carry the intimidatory power it once invoked.
Thirdly, despite the vocal discussion on immigration during the EU Referendum, animosity is not being expressed towards European immigrants. It is common to hear people say that there is too much immigration but they “like working with the Polish, they’re alright” or “I would do the same if I was them”. Typical complaints focus on the difficulty in getting a quick doctors appointment or an over-crowded classroom. People see their workplaces, towns and villages change around them and they were never consulted, asked or involved in any way. Change is happening to people, it is not being made by them.
Fourthly, working class communities, like the one in Birstall, feel that no political party, in fact no-one in public life, represents their interests. Jo Cox was a popular MP, but her party has failed to defend or advance working class interests. New jobs that are being created are typically low paid and insecure. The engineering and textile factories, the power stations and the coal mines are being replaced by supermarket distribution centres and packing plants. People want to be listened to, to be taken seriouly. Is it any wonder that most working class people are voting for Brexit?
Lastly, the commentators and what now passes for ‘left wing’ activists have no relationship with the working class. They are shocked that the EU Referendum has ignited interest, discussion and genuine passion. Their detachment from ordinary people means that they misunderstand their motivation. They genuinely fear the people because, up until now, they have been able to ignore them. If you live in a reified world where the only views you hear are within an echo chamber of reenforcing group-think, it is a shock to realise that most people do not think the way you do. Finally, the commentators misanthropic inclinations lead them to thinking the worst of people. Their contemptuous view of working class people leads them to fear. In a lone act of murder, they see mass hatred.
What we are seeing now is not a ‘toxic atmosphere of heightened tension’, we are seeing the fear and loathing of the working class from middle class commentators who know no better.
Brilliant piece, bang on the money.
Very good article which I retweeted though even in 1970s NF was small beer. If Jo Cox was killed for racist reasons why should that have a bearing on the EU referendum? http://pvewood.blogspot.ro/2016/06/a-tragedy-in-england.html
There may or may not be a direct, causal link between the EU referendum and the murder. But for those of us who believe that words have consequences, there can be no serious denial of the fact that the racism of the Leave campaign (and not just Farage’s lot, but the “respectable” Gove/Johnson lot as well) has, indeed, created a poisonous atmosphere of simmering hatred and potential violence. Gove and Johnson have unleashed this, and must bear responsibility. Of course not every working class person concerned about immigration is a racist, and their concerns must be seriously engaged with; but the Leave campaign has deliberately stirred up fear and hatred with a pack of downright lies about (for instance) Turkey being about the join the EU, and flood us with 77 million new immigrants, – and when this lie is exposed they deliberately persist with it (just like they’ve persisted with the proven lie about the £350 million per week – and that these Tory privatisers would spend that imaginary money on the NHS!). No, there may not be a direct causal link with the murder, but the Outers have created an atmosphere of fear and lies that make such outrages much more likely. Jo Cox, of course, knew which side she stood on …
The atmosphere is far from poisonous. For the first time in years, people are talking about fundamental political issues. Even the discussion on immigration is more complex than the ‘toxic atmosphere’ theory. A friend of mine who runs the local shop has been running a poll. Of his Asian (Pakistani background) customers, 100% are for leave because they think that Eastern Europeans are favoured over Asians. More importantly, people are discussing what sovereignty is, what is needed for economic growth etc. For the first time people think they are being asked what they actually really think on an issue and they’re taking it seriously. The turn-out is likely to be above 80%, unlike the MEP elections which few bother with. The feeble approach of the left, by backing the status quo, has left it to people like Farage dominate the issues that are discussed on his terms. We need to shape the debate, but you can only do that if you are on the side of democracy and take people seriously.
.Not all words have consequences and seeking to shut down debate for fear that the great unwashed may actually have something to say seems to be the only answer for our elites who know what’s best for us.
And of course the inners have contributed to this atmosphere of fear as well.
The EU has always been ‘ flexible’ regarding rules as witnessed by the fact that only Britain and Germany satisfied the criteria to join the Euro,but not to worry it allowed other countries to join.
As to Turkey,I’m sure The EU will come to some kind of accomodation which may/may not culminate in their membership or some sort of preferred status. Mother Merkel is cosying up to Islamist Erdogan .It’s interesting that a German comedian is facing prosecution for insulting a president who imprisons journalists,and persecutes his populace.
This is a spot-on piece. To paraphrase Brecht’s poem when the East Germans attempted to resist the dead hand of socialism in 1953, after Brexit, would it not be easier for the left wing elite and out-of-touch Guardianistas to dissolve the people. But there is overt racism and it comes straight out of the mouths of islamofascists, the new ultra-extreme right.
Excellent piece. But to paraphrase Brecht when the East Germans rejected the dead hand of socialism in 1953 only to be put down by the state apparatus, after Brexit, would it not be easier for the toxic left to dissolve the people and elect another? There is overt racism by the way. You’ll hear it spouted from the mouths of ultra-right wing islamofascists.
It’s necessary to tell the truth: which is that the Leave people, of all varieties (including those who claim to be on the “left”) are dealing in downright lies and racist scaremongering. Which is why Jo Cox was firmly on the other side. Nick Cohen, in today’s Observer, is well worth reading on this.
Can we name these ‘toxic left’? It seem an all catch phrase a bit like the alleged anti-semtism in the Labour party which never took off, because it was lies!
“Paranoid left” “Frightened left” “fear the working class left” “left alone” “left outside” “anything but actually left wing” ?
I name Owen Jones – hard left toxicity personified.
Just fantastic to read such an accurate and warm piece of writing. It all feels utterly correct. Thank you for daring to stand up to all the hysteria. I am now following you and I look forward to reading more of you writing. You provide fresh air amid the screaming pollution.
Thank you, your comments are really appreciated. Twitter:@AndyShaw1
I’ve just followed you on Twitter.
Should have read “your writing”. And now I can’t edit it. Oops.
Are you on Twitter, so that I can reciprocate?
On WordPress and on Twitter @GreerNicholson. Truly, I will follow your writing which is a breath of fresh air.
Thanks, it’s really appreciated. Let me know what you like and don’t like. I also do a satirical blog here https://wortharguingfor.com/ I need some help on the Orwellian Modern English Dictionary, if you’ve got any ideas.
And on wordpress Greercn.wordpress.com
Reblogged this on THE SOUTH ESSEX HECKLER and commented:
Interesting commentary on how people feel change is being done to them and how this influenced the way they voted in the EU referendum on Thursday…