The words of Jo Cox will resonate down the history books, as we remember her life and her service to the principles of peace. The violence that struck outside that library that day will never be forgotten and her memory will live on in her widower Brendon, her children and all of us that share public life. Her death was like the eye of the hurricane and brought everything to a stop, as the horror of what had transpired unfolded on our news channels.
She will never be forgotten and none more so than in her home of Batley and Spen, close to Huddersfield. The successor to Jo Cox has very big shoes to fill in a by-election that will not really be an election at all. Maybe her shoes can never really be filled.
The words "we have more in common" will stand firm in the contest that is coming and I welcome the other political parties, bar a few others, who have rightly stood down in the tragic contest to choose Jo's successor. I know that I could never really know what Jo would have said or done in the present state of the Labour Party, as I did not know her personally, but I think it would be safe to assume that she would be dismayed. Members against members, leaders against their grassroots and a Parliamentary Party paralyzed. The business of opposition stopped. A leadership contest not sought or wanted following the most historic vote of the nation in recent times.
Unity will be the mantle that is needed in Batley and Spen right now. There will be no room for the mudslinging, abuse or factional disunity. Such disorder I imagine would be met with hostility. What we all need in West Yorkshire is calm, decency and a Member of Parliament who would continue the legacy of honest decent public service to the families Jo served. From my perspective, any maneuvering or positioning in the process to select a successor would, in my view, tarnish the hard won legacy that Jo has left us.
Forget going on maneuvers or being sucked into anything less than total commitment to your constituents, is the message I would give the next MP. In this scenario, there cannot be a Team Corbyn versus a Team Moderate in Batley & Spen and I will feel ashamed of my membership of the party if such a thing were to happen. I strongly expect that Corbyn and his rival for the leadership Angela Eagle will follow an almost bipartisan route in Jo's former seat. In that there won't be open infighting for the selection which will almost quite probably return a Labour MP.
The current crisis in the party aside, I would urge the next MP for Batley and Spen to remain neutral in the crisis. The job should be to represent constituents, hold the government to account and ignore anything else. In my view Jo Cox's memory cannot be remembered as it should be if her successor is immediately drawn into battle for the leadership.
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