I really don’t know what to say, but I know I have to say something.
Jo and I became MP’s on the same day last year. We had both been aid workers, she was a director of Oxfam, so we had a lot in common. But that wasn’t the reason people like me gravitated towards Jo. She was effervescent, maternal, driven, and huge fun.
I wish people could see more of the softer side of politics. The friendship, the support, the way people gather around when they’re under stress and the lighter moments too. Every time I’ve had a tough time with things, Jo was always right there. She was fantastically upbeat and optimistic and she spoke brilliantly in the chamber. We often sat together in the chamber and I joked with her because the Speaker always called her before me!
When I look through the texts I’ve had from her in recent weeks it just about sums her up. She suggested meeting for dinner and inviting friends that are fun ‘because we need to laugh more’. Another time she wanted to get together to talk about international development policy. And then she was asking about my taste in blokes because she wanted to set me up on a date!
Jo was everything I believe an MP should be: values driven, hard working, funny, but above all extremely caring. She had all this by the bucket load.
She lived on a houseboat on the Thames when parliament was in session. I went round for dinner recently and spent the evening with her family. There was so much love between her and her two young children and husband. The tragedy of her murder today is incomprehensible.
We don’t yet know what led that man to do what he did. But in general something just feels wrong in the world around us right now. There is so much hate and unfocused anger around us. Because of it people, families, and communities are suffering. The only thing I know for certain is that people like Jo should be part of the solution, they are not the problem.
You and our whole country desperately need and deserve leadership of such quality that we can be led to a better future and every community can feel that that are included in the journey we take as a nation and most importantly that no one will be left behind. Politics has to work for everyone. I think some of the hate exists because right now it’s not working for everyone and the reasons are sometimes hard to understand.
The man who today murdered a mum, wife, friend, and hard working MP will face justice. Our police and justice system is good at that. Whether this murder is linked to any other issues of social isolation, disenfranchisement, or terror we won’t know for a while. But I hope this desperate, heartbreaking moment can give us the chance to stop, to reflect about who we are as a nation and who we want to be. We must start again with renewed energy down a path that people like Jo dedicated careers and lives to achieving, one that shows politics isn’t perfect but it can work and it exists to serve us all wherever we live and whatever our background. Yours in terrible sadness, Peter