Almost as soon as the news of Labour MP Jo Cox’s death emerged on Thursday afternoon, and the possibility also emerged that her assailant may have wanted to “put Britain first”, there has been a chorus of voices telling anyone willing to listen that the whole affair must not be politicised. We have been told by several pundits not to score political points. Well, have I got news for all of them right now.
Over the past 36 hours, I’ve occasionally checked out the allegiances of those calling for Jo Cox’s murder not to be politicised, and every one of them shares one view: they are all, without exception, advocating for Britain to leave the EU in next Thursday’s referendum. Now, this is not a scientific or rigorous analysis, but every time I look, it comes up Outers. Every last one of them. Why might that be?
Simples. If the man now charged with Ms Cox’s murder can be linked to the Out campaign, however transient or tangential his allegiance, the Out campaign - all of it - is as good as finished. That is why so many Outers are whining “Don’t politicise it”, responding to suggestions that they tone down the rhetoric with counter-accusations that they are being bullied into silence and having their free speech censored.
And it doesn’t look good for the Outers right now. Consider those inconvenient facts: this is already a highly politicised matter. Why? Jo Cox was a serving politician. She was attending a meeting as part of her duties as a serving politician. Anything about a serving politician happening in the course of their duties is inevitably political.
Tommy Mair, who, as the Guardian has reported, “was formally charged at Westminster magistrates court on Saturday with the murder of Joanne Cox, grievous bodily harm, possession of a firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence and possession of an offensive weapon”, had connections to far-right politics.
Indeed, when the Police searched his house, they “are believed to have found samples of Nazi regalia and far-right literature … Thomas Mair was also known to have bought books from a US-based neo-Nazi group, including guides on how to build homemade guns and explosives, according to an anti-hate campaign group in the US. Among them was a manual on how to make a homemade pistol”.
The murder looks more and more like a political assassination as each day passes.
And then, when Mair appeared before Westminster Magistrates’ Court today, having been examined by two physicians who declared him fit to be detained, and fit to be interviewed, stated that his name was “death to traitors, freedom for Britain”. The casual use of the word “traitor” to abuse those campaigning for the UK to remain in the EU has been one of the less pleasant aspects of the debate, and used increasingly.
So to all those carping, whining, pleading for the murder of Jo Cox not to be politicised, I have one straightforward question: just what part of “It is already highly politicised” do you not understand?