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Jo Cox, RIP

This morning I was joking about how gloriously dotty yet reassuring yesterday’s “naval battle” between rival Leave and Remain flotillas on the Thames outside the Houses of Parliament was. This afternoon I learned that one of those on the Remain boat, Jo Cox, Labour MP for Batley and Spen, was murdered just outside her constituency surgery. She leaves behind a husband and two young children.

I am too depressed to make a post with links. There is no shortage of commentary and speculation on the internet. A man has been arrested and no other suspects are being sought.

May she rest in peace.

46 comments to Jo Cox, RIP

  • Trofim

    An EU Commissioner has not been slow to use her death for political purposes:


  • The Sanity Inspector

    May her memory be a blessing.

  • PeterT

    For those that are not following the news, it has been confirmed that the murderer was well known in the area as somebody who suffered from mental illness and had received treatment. The initial report that he had cried ‘Britain first’ while conducting his deed has since been dismissed. He had no known political views.

  • An MP and mother of two has lost her life, brutally murdered by a local constituent with mental health issues. This is not the first time that such an attack has been made at a constituency surgery, which is a core activity in the life of an MP and the only means of redress for many constituents against the bureaucracy.

    I don’t think we should rush into taking substantial protective measures without careful consideration, but the fact that the amount of security spent outside of Westminster by the Commons was a mere £77,234 per year suggests that security away from Parliament was not a concern.

    All I can say is RIP Jo Cox and I hope lessons are learned from her death that will prevent this happening again.

  • Johnnydub

    “All I can say is RIP Jo Cox and I hope lessons are learned from her death that will prevent this happening again.`”

    The poor girl intervened in a street dispute and a nutter pulled out a gun – I’m not sure how that could ever be prevented seeing as handguns are illegal, and the story is the gun was homemade…

  • Mr Ed

    An appalling crime, sadly, as the IRA bragged, the attacker always has the advantage.

    I would hope for an uncontested by-election.

  • Laird

    “May her memory be a blessing.”

    I have no idea what is meant by this. Is it a common British expression? It seems to say that the fact that she’s gone is the blessing, but surely that can’t be right.

    Also, am I correct that a “constituency surgery” is a political meeting place? Perhaps the politician’s public office? It’s another phrase I’ve never seen before. What has “surgery” to do with politics?

    I’ll just second “may she rest in peace”.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Even more than usual for such crimes, everything about this seems confused. I’ve read conflicting accounts of whether the killer did or did not shout “Britain First”. The consensus now seems to be that the killer – I’ll call him Mair since there seems close to zero doubt about that – was targeting her, though earlier it looked as if she might have been intervening in a prior dispute. His mixed race half brother says that he never showed racial prejudice but apparently he might have been mentioned on some far right website. Then again “Tommy Mair” is a common name.

  • AndrewWS

    @Laird: It is a Jewish expression.

  • The poor girl intervened in a street dispute and a nutter pulled out a gun

    That’s not how events were described on the news less than an hour ago, although admittedly details are still unclear, but the view was that the assailant was waiting for Jo Cox to arrive outside the office where she was scheduled to hold a constituency surgery.

  • Lee Moore

    A constituency surgery is the politician’s office. The “surgery” idea is a thematic spillover from a doctor’s surgery. You go to the GP when you have a medical problem, and he/she sorts it out. In the UK the idea has grown up that the MP’s job includes, to a significant extent, assisting his or her constituents in their battles with the vast government bureaucracy that the MP has voted to create and extend. Hence you bring your petty government oppression to your MP, and the MP attempts to intercede with the Nazgul. MPs are supposed to be – and they usually are – politically neutral in who they help. Both Conservative and Labour MPs will help poor welfare claimants get another hearing from their masters. Both Conservative and Labour MPs will ignore small business folk complaining about overregulation.

    This is now an MP’s main job, as actually voting on policy has been subcontracted to the EU.

  • Also, am I correct that a “constituency surgery” is a political meeting place? Perhaps the politician’s public office? It’s another phrase I’ve never seen before. What has “surgery” to do with politics?

    A “constituency surgery” is probably a uniquely British phenomenon, I’m not sure, but it is a schedule of when an MP will be in his/her constituency office and available for consultation by her constituents (i.e. those people whom the MP represents in Parliament, regardless of whether they voted for the MP or not).

    Typical things that are dealt with by an MP at a surgery:
    – Tax queries involving the HM Revenue and Customs.

    – Issues dealt with by the Department for Work and Pensions, such as employment, benefits, pensions, National Insurance and child maintenance.

    – Issues dealt with by the Home Office, such as crime, the police, counter terrorism, alcohol, drugs, immigration and passports.

    – Issues dealt with by the Department of Health, such as hospitals, the NHS and public health.

    – Issues dealt with by the Department for Education, such as children, young people, families, education and training for 16 to 19 year olds, school standards, teacher training. Academies and educational grants.

  • RAB


    Our democracy/Parliamentary representation is supposed to mean that our MP’s are answerable to the people who elected them. Hence the constituency surgery, where constituents can meet and put their grievances/problems/wishes to their elected MP. This usually happens once a week, though I doubt Blair or Galloway attended many in their tenures.

    This tragedy is already being used in the most vile way so I will wait for the facts and send my condolences to her family. No, I have no idea what “may her memory be a blessing” means either. It is not common English parlance.

  • Alisa

    AndrewWS, the Jewish expression is ‘may her memory be blessed’.

  • the other rob

    My prayers are for her and her family.

    I’ll say something about the EU Commissioner that Trofim linked to at another time.

  • Mastiff

    Andrew, Aliza,

    The Hebrew expression can be idiomatically translated both ways.

    In any event, it means that the deceased’s legacy should be positive for those left behind.

  • Laird

    Alisa, that makes far more sense to me. Thanks.

    I still don’t get what “surgery” has to do with politics, but at least I now understand the phrase. Here in the US we call it “constituent service”, and it’s a big part of our elected officials’ job, too. Sort of an ombudsman interceding with the bureaucracy. It’s one of the more benign, indeed useful, of their functions.

  • Lee Moore

    I don’t think it’s benign at all. It’s a system of patronage – you rely on your patron interceding with the authorities – rather than on a system governed by law. This has (at least) three pernicious effects :

    1. it allows the government to create systems that rely on administrative whim, softened by administrative indulgence. If the government only operated using systems based on legal rules, it would not be able to burrow so comprehensively into the minutiae of life
    2. it makes the peasants grateful to their patron, rewarding incumbents with votes
    3. what the bureaucrats can grant by way of indulgences they can also withhold. MPs become supplicants to the bureaucracy which is exactly where the bureaucracy wants ‘em

    A fourth effect is more nuanced. By absorbing a large proportion of MPs’ time it reduces the time they have to go round causing trouble and demanding that more things be banned, more regulations be tightened etc. And it does mean that the MPs have at least some idea of what goes on in some of their constituents’ lives (albeit a rather selective sample of constituents.) But on the other hand it absolutely guarantees that MPs have no time to think, nor seriously to consider the legislation that they are voting on. It ensures that they are mere lobby fodder.

  • bobby b

    At least in my area, constituent services has no air of the peons begging mi’lord for favors.

    Rather, it reflects the view that our pols work for us – that the holder of a governmental office specifically serves at the pleasure, and for the benefit, of we the residents of her district – and that they are our most effective and rational point of entry into what can be an impenetrable, opaque government.

    I’ve worked for elected pols and most every one devoted at least thirty percent of their time to meeting with constituents and trying to help them solve their problems with government.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    In Singapore, we call them Meet The People sessions, and they occur weekly. It is considered to be an integral part of an MP’s duties.

  • Mr Ed

    The BBC radio 4 news carried a report relaying an interview with an apparent witness who said and whose words were relayed over the air saying that the attacker shouted something like ‘Britain First’ or ‘Put Britain First’ until at least 7pm yesterday (the day of the killing), this it seems has now disappeared from the media reports without a retraction or clarification. Was it too useful a quote to corroborate before broadcast?

    If someone is charged, contempt of court rules would apply to reporting of the incident.

  • Mr Ed

    The Sage of Kettering told me that from his personal experience MPs are regarded with little respect by bureaucrats, who send out letters with appropriately ‘respectful’ wording to enquiries, whereas he wondered if in the US, if you disrespect a Congressman, there is always a risk that he might get you hauled into Congress for public questioning on oath in front of a Committee, something our MPs are slowly coming round to as a good idea, (not sure if it is implemented at the right targets), which might help encourage a certsin degree of caution in dealing with the Congress in bureaucrats in the US, although Fast and Furious might indicate otherwise.

  • Alisa

    The Hebrew expression can be idiomatically translated both ways.

    No, not really. Unless there is a different version, with which I am not familiar as it may no longer be in widespread use.

    In any event, it means that the deceased’s legacy should be positive for those left behind.


  • Alisa

    Laird, DuckDuckGo is your friend.

  • Cal

    So radical Islamic killers shout “Allahu Akbar” when they kill people, and that never gets reported. This guy may or may not have shouted ‘Britain First” and it gets splashed everywhere. A political party called Britain First is interviewed as though they had something to do with it. Talk about double standards. The latte left always complain that we should never assume or write that radical Islamic killers are radical Muslims unless there is a mountain of evidence that has been carefully assessed, yet here we are told immediately that he’s an ultra-right fanatic simply because some journalist found someone of the same name on the subscription list of a South African white supremacist group (which seems unlikely to be him, especially as he has a mixed-race half-brother he gets on with, and nobody is reporting him to have every expressed any political views).

  • Cal

    Googling around reveals that the witness who said that Mair shouted ‘Britain First” actually shouted ‘put Britain first’. I don’t even know if that’s true, but if it is then it seems to have nothing to do with the obscure political party called ‘Britain First’. Despite that the International Business Times said “Eyewitnesses described hearing the attacker shout “put Britain First” (said to be a reference to the anti-Islamic far-right group)”. Idiots. And we’re back to this scurrilous use of ‘right-wing’ again.

    It does look like Mair was the Thomas Mair who had subscribed to some racist organizations, or bought their materials. The Independent writes:

    The link between Mair and the Springbok Club goes back ten years when its online magazine, the Springbok Cyber Newsletter, was inquiring about the whereabouts of “Thomas Mair, from Batley in Yorkshire [who] was one of the earliest subscribers and supporters of “S.A. Patriot” who has moved from his address in the Fieldhead Estate district of the town.”

    The leading article for June 2016 Springbok Cyber Newsletter, which describes itself on its website as being pro-free market capitalism and patriotism and anti-political correctness, was, however, devoted to Britain and the referendum. It started: “On Thursday, 23rd June 2016 all British voters will have the opportunity to vote on the future of their country. They can vote either to remain entrapped in the artificial and retrograde European Union, or to regain their sovereign independence….”
    The article ends by declaring: “But we should not only be concentrating at the negative aspects of remaining in the EU. Our campaign should be primarily positive and optimistic for a future outside the EU. The motto of the Patriotic Forum (an umbrella grouping of patriotic organisations which the Springbok Club is part of) is “Out of Europe and into the World”. There is a golden future waiting for Britain out there once the country returns to its traditional vision of looking towards the Open Seas and its ethnic brothers and sisters in the Commonwealth around the globe. The days ahead will inspire us!”

    Despite this long quote clearly saying nothing whatsoever about violence (and it not being clear whether Mair was still a subscriber), The Independent seems to be trying to create the impression that the Leave campaign are a bunch of racist murderous nutters. (And note the difference with how the left-wing press treats Islamic killers, they constantly play down the incitements to violence that exist within the Islamic world).

    Anyway, loony or not, Mair can burn in hell for killing a mother of two small children.

  • Lee Moore

    Thanks for that link, Alisa.

    Apparently there’s a word for what I was droning on about – “clientelism”

  • Alisa

    Mastiff, I owe you an apology: there is another version which translates as you say, and I forgot all about it somehow!

  • Mr Ed

    Is this the only blog where people (sometimes) apologise if they find themselves in error? 🙂

    Or am I wrong to suggest that?

  • Jerry

    ‘Is this the only blog where people (sometimes) apologise if they find themselves in error?’
    Maybe not the only one but certainly one of a very few.
    If you’re in the mood or just curious, try democratic underground to experience the complete opposite of the behavior here !!

  • Laird

    Thanks for the link, Alisa. It still doesn’t provide the etymology of the word, but I understand it now.

    Lee Moore, your diatribe about patronage (or “clientelism”) was well said, and on reflection seems accurate. I never really thought about it in quite that way. Thanks.

  • nemesis

    “Perhaps we should remind them that Brexit is a religion of peace and that if only we banned guns then things like this would never happen… Those were perfectly legit arguments earlier in the week…”

    quote by commenter JSC on Spiked.

  • Alisa

    Laird, I think it sort-of does:

    …at which a constituent may raise issues of concern, in much the same way that a person may directly consult a GP in his or her surgery (a “surgery” being the term for the GP’s workplace, an “office” in American parlance).

    IOW and if I understand correctly, it means ‘office’ in this narrow context.

  • Rich Rostrom

    I had seen the reference to the “surgery”, and thought it was an actual medical facility.

    Alisa: It means “office” in the sense of a professional’s workplace – which for a most physicians means the place where patients are received; especially for a GP, whose practice substantially consists of receiving the public. From what I’ve read in British mysteries (going back to Dr. Watson), it was standard for a GP to have open hours. The politician’s constituency office functions similarly, thus the borrowed name.

    “Constituency service” is a Big Deal in the U.S. It is a problem in that it is a way for the legislator to appeal to constituents while dodging on issues of legislation and appropriation. It’s a big reason why re-election rates in the U.S. are so high.

    How it can work: about 25 years ago, Senator Strom Thurmond (R-SC, once an arch-segregationist) was running for re-election. A national news show sent a crew to South Carolina to buttonhole locals about how they would vote. One of those they asked was a black man. He said “My son was in an auto accident and severely burned over most of his body. Strom Thurmond arranged for an Air Force plane to fly him to a burn hospital in Cincinnati where they saved his life. Does that answer your question?”

  • Alisa

    Well yes Rich, that’s what was meant by the quote, and that seems to be all the etymology there is.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Rich, thanks very much for the Strom Thurmond quote. A side of the man new to me. Do you have a source perchance?

  • Mr Ed

    The use of the term ‘surgery’ includes not just slicing and cutting, but also arrangements for a consultation with a physician or a vet.

    Is it any surprise that polticians might steal something?

  • Paul Marks

    Horrible – a young woman murdered, cut down, in the prime of life.

    And a family to.

  • thefrollickingmole

    2 observations.
    1: A mad bloke shot and killed a lady who didnt deserve that fate.
    2: Even here in Oz the narrative is its all the horrible Brexit peoples fault and they are all racists.

    Im pretty sure when they go through the killers computer thay will find links to every crackpot site on earth, but the only ones which will be highlighted will be any that can be used to smear Brexit.

  • Reading thefrollickingmole (June 18, 2016 at 12:34 am), I deduce that the usual suspects in Oz are not observing the brief suspension from campaigning here any more than Tusk is.

    The beeb’s coverage at ten last might – in line with the police spokeswoman’s relative stresses in presentation – presented the far-right angle somewhat over the mental health one, though the latter was mentioned, plus some honest puzzlement over the confusing/suprprising aspects (neighbours astonished; he taught immigrants English; etc.). To a degree this is just the news responding moment by moment to details as they come out. The police had just reported he had a reprint of a leaflet given to Nazi party joiners back in the day, so – after allowing for the old old bias in the idea that national socialism is simply far-right – the term far-right was for once being used in a rational way. The items mentioned were for sure far-something. Were I channelling paranoid lefties, I’d think ‘far-right’ one of those dog whistles one hears about, but direct references to brexit were absent here.

    Summary: I did not see stuff to shout at in that beeb item. I mention it FWIW.

    I could not see this stuff about literature found in his house without remembering the Spanish communist police’s search of Orwell’s apartment in Homage to Catalonia. They were very suspicious to find a copy of Mein Kampfe but were reassured when they found a copy of Stalin’s leaflet “Ways to Eliminate Trotskyites and other Double-Dealers’. My guess is the items the police report from the killer’s house mean more, though not much – the mental health issue is obviously huge – but when I cleaned out my parents house I found two copies of Stalin’s “A Shorter History of the Communist Party” plus much else like it, and (more of a surprise) a couple of books on the other side (“progressivism”, as we know, is a word whose past meaning has been flushed down the memory hole), and I myself have read a lot of books and pamphlets that I did not agree with. In any such case, I’d hope the British police can outperform the Spanish police, but I don’t suppose they’ll need to in this case.

    Finally, I’d like to thank Natalie for her post.

  • @Niall Kilmartin:

    Not sure what they would think if they started going through my bookshelves, there’s certainly a copy of Marx and Engel’s “The Communist Manifesto”, a copy of “The Book of Mormon” and a copy of Gerry Adams “The Politics of Irish Freedom”.

    Just because you read the literature, does not necessarily mean you believe the argument.

  • Greytop

    In my home I have a very old, and extremely blunt Japanese sword (and it won’t be sharpened) and a replica 1840 pepperbox pistol (bought when I fancied myself in steampunk attire, a project long abandoned.) The pistol is very heavy and does not fire a projectile in any shape or form; you would have more luck with a Nerf gun — and yes, I admit I have one of those too. Still, the two guns and the sword are able to demonstrate to the grandchildren, if they are interested, that swords are long and fairly heavy — swinging one for hours in the style of a movie fantasy is utterly unlikely — and in the case of the steampunk replica, extremely heavy. The Nerf gun can demonstrate the principle of gravity and air on projectile flight. If you don’t know, the foam bullet loses speed and drops in flight and misses the target.

    I don’t have any seditious literature to back this love of violence up, though there may be a copy of one of Mark Steyn’s books somewhere and though my wife has a copy of the Koran at work for her muslim students, I would rather her not bring it home. But if the cops busted down my door they might construe with the guns, sword and Steyn — but no Koran to balance the love and peaceful intent — that I am some sort of far right nutter. Well, maybe I own up to being a bit to nutter, but that’s all.

    I am pleased for the police, and therefore the media, that the discovery of ‘far-right’ material at the home of the man charged with the MPs murder will help. It helps clarify things enormously as far as the prejudicial left and their friends in the media are concerned. ‘Far-right’ is a great label to slap on someone and in the interests of space and time (the major factors in the media, whatever they say) it moves stories along smoothly. But, and this interests me a lot, is political outlook evenly reported?

    Last year I went to a small gallery and among the half-baked art and poorly done anti-capitalist cartoons, there were glowing and adoring portraits of the murderer Che along with the mass murderer Mao. I imagine, if the cops charged into there on some spurious pretext like the stench of cannabis affecting the flight of passing aircraft, they could label the gallery owners as ‘far-left’… Oh wait, no-one ever says far-left, do they?

  • Pollo

    Given the alleged murderer has given his name in court as, ‘death to traitors, freedom for Britain’ and a photograph has emerged of him campaigning with Britain First I think we can quite comfortably label him a far-right terrorist.

  • Mr Ed

    Since European integration was an NSDAP project of the late 1930s/early 1940s, through the German state and its allies, Nazi memorabilia is a possible indicator of a preference for ‘Remain’.