Yesterday, Britain was rocked by the killing of Labour MP Jo Cox, who was shot and stabbed multiple times in her own constituency.
The 41-year-old representative for Batley and Spen became the first serving MP to be killed since Conservative MP Ian Gow in 1990.
Tributes have flooded the Internet in memory of the mother-of-two, but her death will sadly now serve as a permanent reminder of the ugly depths British politics has sunk to.
— Jules Mattsson (@julesmattsson) June 16, 2016
52-year-old Tommy Mair has been named as the lead suspect in the killing, with police arresting him at the scene of the incident.
The attack is disturbing on several levels, but just as Anders Breivik was treated before, certain media outlets are trying to tell the public that the suspect in this case is a ‘loner’, with mental health troubles.
The evidence is there to support that Mair is an advocate of far right politics, he is known to have been linked to the white supremacist organisation, the ‘Springbok Club’, and Nazi regalia was reportedly found in his home.
That same group has also called for Britain to leave the EU in order to ‘regain [its] sovereign independence’.
So why aren’t Mair’s actions being portrayed as terrorist acts? Because that is what they are.
The truth is that to describe Mair as a terrorist who attacked Cox – mentally ill or otherwise – would suggest a culpability, or a link right wing outlets do not want to accept.
‘Right Wing Terrorist Kills Jo Cox’ is not a headline that reads well in a newspaper that is taking a right wing stance while they campaign to leave the EU.
It creates a sense of shame in identifying as right wing in the current political climate.
So, instead, Mair will be painted as the ‘loner’, with a history of mental health problems, who didn’t get the help he needed, and was affiliated to no one.
Speaking of right wing ‘loners’, we have Nick Griffin, who has crawled out from under his rock to comment on what he believes will be the exploitation of Cox’s death.
Via his Facebook page, the former leader of the British National Party (BNP) has said:
The Left are shameless, they will use every dirty trick in the book to get their way, but is the exploitation of a dead woman, a new low, even for the Labour party?
Let’s be clear – calling Mair a terrorist instead of a mentally unstable killer is not ‘exploitation’ of Cox’s death. It is calling a spade a spade.
The facts are not there yet to legitimately say the shooting and stabbing of Cox was motivated by any desire of Mair to leave the EU.
We have conflicting reports about what Mair said at the scene of the crime, with some witnesses claiming he cried ‘Britain First’ before launching his assault, while others say he said no such thing.
But is that quote even necessary to label the 52-year-old a terrorist? No.
Mair used a disturbing level of violence against a civilian, who was of political note. From this, it is fair to assume the attack had political motives, even if we can’t say with absolute certainty what that motive was.
Far right political party Britain First are frantically seeking to clarify they weren’t in contact with Mair, because they wouldn’t like one ‘loner’ to tarnish their group’s name, which is pretty ironic.
JO COX SHOOTING: Deputy leader Jayda Fransen examines the mons…JO COX SHOOTING: Deputy leader Jayda Fransen examines the monstrous LIES peddled by the media
Posted by Britain First on Friday, June 17, 2016
Since Jayda Fransen and Paul Golding are so adamant that facts should be examined, let’s continue to examine them.
Was Mair ever previously linked to a right wing group? Yes. Did he commit an act of terrorism? As already covered, yes.
Did Jo Cox intervene in a fight between two men outside a library? Not according to police.
Here's the full statement from Dee Collins, the acting chief constable of West Yorkshire Police, on Jo Cox's death pic.twitter.com/SGBOpeeHmg
— Guardian news (@guardiannews) June 16, 2016
As reported in The Telegraph, a police statement read:
We have now confirmed that just before 1pm yesterday Jo arrived in a vehicle in company with two colleagues outside the Library on Market Street and whilst en route to the library where she had a scheduled constituency meeting, she was attacked and sustained serious injuries from both a firearm and a knife and despite assistance from passers-by, the ambulance service and police officers who were quickly on the scene, she sadly died of her injuries.
During the course of the incident a 77-year-old man bravely intervened to assist Jo and in doing so sustained a serious injury to his abdomen and although now stable he remains in hospital.
The sorry state of affairs is that hateful groups like Britain First, and both sides of the Brexit debate, have created an atmosphere in this nation that made an attack like this all the more likely.
It is shocking that a mother and wife has died, but is it that shocking that an MP has died? Certainly not.
Following his failed bid to become London mayor, Paul Golding and his party were exposed as calling for direct action against elected Muslim officials.
This press release does appear to come from a domain owned by "Britain First". pic.twitter.com/SfrafqU41m
— Chris Cook (@xtophercook) May 23, 2016
What exactly is that ‘direct action’? Well, that is open to interpretation. And ‘unstable’ individuals such as Mair are sadly likely to interpret such instruction as they see fit.
Groups like Britain First have fueled the poisonous climate we are now in, but they do not wish to be held accountable.
This is only emphasised further by the fact Cox was reportedly receiving ‘malicious communications’ for months.
Journalist James O’Brien summed the situation up very well on his LBC radio show this morning:
James O’Brien’s Monologue on Jo CoxJames O’Brien’s monologue on Jo Cox is a must-listen.
Posted by LBC on Friday, June 17, 2016
If I was to be reading my newspaper every single morning and being told my very existence was under siege, by people I’ve never met and never seen but keep getting told are coming here in their hordes.
If I was to open my newspaper or turn on my radio or television set, and told that every body who is coming here is a rapist and they’ve got their eyes on our women and we’ve got no chance whatsoever of protecting ourselves, and unless we do this or do that, or treat them like this or treat them like that, then we’re all doomed, we are all going to hell in a handcart.
If I was told it’s time to reclaim our country every time I got out of bed in the morning, I would begin to believe it I think… if I didn’t have the knowledge or the insights and the education to know that it is not true.
We want our country back from whom?
We want our country back from when?
We want our country back, how?
Convince me if you can, that political debate in Britain in the last couple of years has NOT created an environment in which we find it easy to believe… or possible to believe, that this sort of violence, that this sort of terrorism, could unfold on our streets.
The massacre of at least 49 members of the Orlando LGBT community quickly saw gunman Omar Mateen labelled as an ‘ISIS affiliated terrorist’, and as Owen Jones quite rightly pointed out, he committed a homophobic terrorist act.
So what is the difference now, other than it is too uncomfortable for members of the right wing to accept extremists can exist within their ranks, and even be encouraged by their narrative.
Does it mean we tar all members of the right wing as terrorists? No. But maybe certain elements learn not to do the same with Muslims when a ‘lone’, ‘mentally ill’, terrorist acts on the hatred they have been surrounded by.
Did a lightbulb just go off on the Britain First Facebook page? pic.twitter.com/a9nwWrtuxN
— Sunny Hundal (@sunny_hundal) June 16, 2016
Brendan Cox has lost a wife, his two children have lost a mother, and yet it is they who are hurting most at this time appealing for unity.
If you are shocked by the events of the past 48 hours, then don’t be drawn into yet more political squabbling – but don’t ignore the facts, either.
Tommy Mair may have been alone, but if he is proven guilty of Jo Cox’s killing, he can only be considered a terrorist, and that is not a comment on all who belong to the right wing.
Oxfam Save the Children NSPCC
Labour Women's Network
Made MP 2015 pic.twitter.com/MFdcVRilCV
— Charles B. Anthony (@CharlesBAnthony) June 16, 2016
Rest in peace Jo Cox – the nation has lost a selfless politician who was not acting to serve her own self interest, a rare thing in this modern age.
If you are in a position to donate in Jo’s memory please go to GoFundMe and support some truly worthwhile causes.
An NCTJ Journalist with an MA in Sports Journalism, Kieron is an experienced social media journalist who has worked in the industry since 2015. His experience includes work with ITN, the MEN, WISH/WIRE/TOWER FM, and 8:50 Sports Digest… not forgetting his time at ASDA.