I spend far too much of my time getting riled about politics and the attendant issues surrounding it. I’m glad I get mad about things because the alternative is to not care. Not caring about politics, whether because of cynicism, the (simply wrong) view that all politicians are the same and it really doesn’t matter who wins. Oh, it matters all right and tonight it matters that Tracy Brabin wins the Batley and Spen by election.
You may remember Batley and Spen. It’s where Jo Cox was killed. We must not debate too deeply the case itself which will soon be in court, but we will do well to remember what this country is all about.
Jo Cox was a wonderful person, from all accounts a great wife, mum and Labour MP. The Labour Party bit doesn’t matter at all in the final analysis because if Jo had been a much-loved Tory or Lib Dem, I’d honestly have written the same sort of thing.
Hate triumphed on the fateful day Jo Cox was murdered. We live in difficult, changing times where hate crimes are on the increase, where intolerance is on the march, where diversity is almost resented. Today is the day when the good citizens of Batley and Spen can begin the fightback.
The Conservative Party and Liberal Democrats have both shown great decency and high principles by standing aside in the election of Cox’s likely successor as MP, the Labour candidate Tracy Brabin. I had rather hoped that Ms Brabin would get a clear, unopposed run at the election but this, being a democracy, has not happened. Even Ukip has stood aside in this election, but no fewer than four hard right, some might say (I would) fascist, parties are on the ballot. The BNP, the National Front, Liberty GB and the English Democrats are all standing to be the next MP for Batley and Spen.
Let us be very clear about the politics of Jo Cox. She was a passionate campaigner for human rights, international development and the plight of refugees. She worked for Oxfam. Love and compassion was etched into her heart. Far right parties like the five named above – yes, I count Ukip as a far right party – stand for the exact opposite of what Jo Cox stood for. It was inevitable, perhaps, that so many parties of hate should try to claim the parliamentary seat of someone who many including her widower believe was killed for her views.
Tracey Babin must win tonight and even Theresa May and Nigel Farage agree with that. It’s about democracy for sure but it’s also a huge statement of what we are. Hope must triumph over hate.