World In View: Jo Cox (1974-2016)

July 16, 2016
From the July-August 2016 issue of News & Letters

Jo Cox

On June 16, Labour Party Member of Parliament Jo Cox was murdered by a neo-Nazi. Tommy Mair shouted “Britain First!” (a Far Right, racist, anti-immigrant party) as he shot and stabbed her following a public meeting. Mair was a supporter of the National Alliance, the U.S. Nazi group that inspired Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. Like that crime, Mair’s was patterned after NA leader William Pierce’s racist fantasy The Turner Diaries.

Jo Cox was a sensitive voice on workers’, women’s, LGBTQI, and disability rights issues. She was one of the few Western political figures who cared about Syria. Syria’s White Helmets civil defense group gave her their highest award. Cox was murdered for opposing the rising reactionary tendency in European politics, including the drive to leave the European Union led by wealthy Conservatives like former London Mayor Boris Johnson, and supported by Putin, Trump, and the European Far Right.


In her first speech in Parliament Cox said, “Our communities have been deeply enhanced by immigration, be it of Irish Catholics or of Muslims…we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.”

From “respectable” Boris Johnson, to the UK Independence Party’s Nigel Farage, to the violent fringe, there has been a revival of the racist ideas of the late Conservative MP Enoch Powell. In an inflammatory speech in 1968, Powell said “In this country in 15 or 20 years’ time the black man will have the whip hand over the white man…[Immigration] is like watching a nation busily engaged in heaping up its own funeral pyre.”

Some elements of the Left fell in behind the victorious anti-EU campaign, disregarding the racist ideas underpinning it. There is no ground there for revolutionaries; our role is telling the workers the truth, that they have profited from the exploitation of those immigrants in the past, and now must pave a new road of solidarity with all the “immigrants,” all the dispossessed, of the world.

—Gerry Emmett


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