We are being constantly told that the murder of Jo Cox has nothing to do with the increasingly fractious debate over the upcoming referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU - or, rather, those who are advocating for Britain to leave are telling us that. Instead, we are assured that it is all about mental illness, the actions of a “lone wolf”, that we should not politicise the matter, that it is better to “look over there”.
This has been the response of, by the most fortunate of coincidences, all the Outers prepared to make a comment in both print media and online. Those wanting an Out vote not telling us to “look over there” are instead keeping the EU debate off their front pages, pushing that mental illness angle and going no further than the tragedy of a relatively young MP whose life has been so brutally cut short.
Just how selective that view is can be seen if we look for a moment at how mainland European media has reported the murder: here, there has been no hesitation in linking Jo Cox’s killing to the EU referendum debate. Take, for instance, French language newspaper Le Soir, which has told simply “Le débat sur le Brexit vire au drame”. You need that in English? That’ll be “The debate on Brexit turns to tragedy”.
How about the view from Italy? We can get a flavour of the reaction in that country from the front page of la Repubblica, which tells its readers “Brexit, sangue sul referendum uccisa donna simbolo del Labour”, which means, more or less, “Brexit - blood on the referendum as woman representing Labour killed”. Two papers, two explicit references to the EU referendum. And, as the man said, there’s more.
From Spain, that country so often cited by the Outers because of its recent economic problems, El País tells readers “El asesinato de una deputata sacude la campaña del ‘Brexit’”. Translation? “The murder of a woman MP shakes the ‘Brexit’ campaign”. No ambiguity from the people in Madrid, either.
How about somewhere a little closer to home? Well, apart from Belgium, there’s always the Netherlands, where the best selling daily morning paper is De Telegraaf. How do the folks in Amsterdam see events in Birstall? “Moord in Brexit-Strijd” is their stark headline. Many will get that without the sub-titles, but for those unsure, it reads simply “Murder in Brexit Battle”. It doesn’t seem to be a problem for those mainland Europeans to figure out.
(c) Martin Rowson 2016
And, while we’re on the subject of “Lone Wolves”, perhaps not everyone has seen Martin Rowson’s brilliant yet chillingly dark cartoon for today’s Guardian. That is included here, just to remind those casually throwing the phrase around just what it might mean in a society where all that comes into so many peoples’ lives is an incessant stream of screaming prejudice, bigotry, and shameless intolerance.
It’s interesting that while the Outers in the UK find it difficult to put Jo Cox’s killing in context, it is, for those looking on from the continent, all too straightforward.