UK

Alternative Christmas Message To Be Made By Brendan Cox, Labour MP Jo Cox's Husband

'2016 has been an awful year for our family.. a divisive one for the world.'

23/12/2016 00:04 GMT | Updated 23/12/2016 00:22 GMT
Richard Ansett / Channel 4 Television
Brendan Cox will deliver Channel 4's Alternative Christmas Message

Brendan Cox will deliver this year’s alternative Christmas message with a passionate plea for unity against threats to fundamental freedoms.

Cox, who was married to murdered Labour MP Jo Cox, highlights the rising prominence of fascist, xenophobic ideology, and its resulting division.

Recorded on the converted Dutch barge the couple established as a family home on the river Thames, the widower says in the message: “2016 has been an awful year for our family, and it’s been a divisive one for the wider world.”

READ FULL MESSAGE HERE

Toby Melville / Reuters
Brendan Cox delivering a speech at a special service for his wife Jo at Trafalgar Square in June
2016 has been an awful year for our family, and it’s been a divisive one for the wider world. Brendan Cox

“A year in which fascism, xenophobia, extremism and terrorism made us divided and felt threatened, from America, to Europe, to the Middle East and beyond,” Cox adds. “And these trends could strengthen - they could gain momentum they could consolidate and they could threaten the fundamental freedoms, and democracy that our grandparents fought for.”

In a tribute to his wife, Cox says the events of 2016 should be a wake-up call to defend key values such as tolerance and fair play, and to come together.

“After all that’s happened this year, she would hope that all of us make a resolution to do something in 2017 to bring our communities back together,” he will say. “To reach out to somebody that might disagree with us. Now is not a moment to shout louder into our echo chambers.  It’s a moment to reach out.”

Now is not a moment to shout louder into our echo chambers. Brendan Cox

Cox also remembers what his beloved Jo liked so much about Christmas.

“Jo loved Christmas, the games, the traditions, the coming together of friends and family and above all the excitement of our kids,” he says. “This year we’ll try to remember how lucky we were to have Jo in our lives for so long - and not how unlucky we were to have her taken from us.”

Cox tweeted a picture of an early Christmas dinner with neighbours on Tuesday.

Jo Cox was killed in her Batley and Spen constituency by white supremacist Thomas Mair in June, just days before the EU referendum. Mair was found guilty of the murder and sentenced to life in prison last month.

Channel 4 will broadcast the short alternative message on Sunday, Christmas Day, at 2.05pm. 

The message will run before the Queen’s traditional Christmas message broadcasts on the BBC at 3pm.

Richard Ansett / Channel 4 Television
Brendan Cox's message will be broadcast at 2.05pm on Christmas Day

Brendan Cox has been the subject of criticism this week from former Ukip leader Nigel Farage and leading donor Aaron Banks.

Farage told Cox he would “know more about extremists than me” during a heated exchange on Twitter following the Berlin terror attack.

When asked about Cox’s comments during a radio interview, Farage responded: “Yes well of course he would know more about extremists than me, Mr Cox.

“He backs organisations like Hope not Hate who masquerade as being lovely and peaceful but actually pursue violent and very undemocratic means.”

Hope Not Hate responded to Farage by launching a public campaign for funds to finance court action against him.


Brendan Cox’s Alternative Christmas Message in full

Jo loved Christmas, the games, the traditions, the coming together of friends and family and above all the excitement of our kids. 

This year we’ll try to remember how lucky we were to have Jo in our lives for so long - and not how unlucky we were to have her taken from us.

2016 has been an awful year for our family, and it’s been a divisive one for the wider world.

A year in which fascism, xenophobia, extremism and terrorism made us divided and felt threatened, from America, to Europe, to the Middle East and beyond.

And these trends could strengthen -  they could gain momentum they could consolidate and they could threaten the fundamental freedoms, and democracy that our grandparents fought for.

But that isn’t how it has to be.

Just as it has become apparent that tolerance and tolerant societies are only as strong as their defenders – there is nothing inevitable about the rise of hatred.

Instead of being a turning point for the worse, 2016 could be a wake-up call that brings us back together.

A wake-up call for all those of us who thought that the values that feel so much part of our society; of tolerance, of fair play - were in some way sacrosanct and didn’t need defending.

A wake up call that this isn’t someone else’s problem.

And a wake-up call, that we all have our part to play.

In a speech a few weeks before she was killed, my wife quoted Edmund Burke who said that, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men and women to do nothing.”

That has never been more true that at this Christmas.

This Christmas our family will be remembering Jo in every moment, her energy, her enthusiasm, her love and her example.  After all that’s happened this year, she would hope that all of us make a resolution to do something in 2017 to bring our communities back together. To reach out to somebody that might disagree with us. Now is not a moment to shout louder into our echo chambers.  It’s a moment to reach out.

If 2016 was a wakeup call, I hope 2017 might be the year in which we realise that we’ve got more in common than that which divides us.

Thank you for listening and happy Christmas.