Dathan Tedesco: Follow Jo Cox’s example and do something for greater good

The murder of MP Jo Cox prompted an unprecedented outpouring of grief.

The murder of MP Jo Cox prompted an unprecedented outpouring of grief.

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PRACTICALLY from the moment we met, Jo Cox was a piercing beam of light in my life.

She had a determination and an energy that made you love her. But she was smart and tough and your respect was quickly earned.

She had special qualities and those qualities were rooted in the place she came from – Yorkshire.

Like all beams of light, she could give you a headache. As her campaigns chief in Batley & Spen, her relentlessness tired me out on more than a few occasions.

I often responded with a plea to caution and practicality.

I am a Yorkshireman too, after all.

Then we would talk things through, refocus, and she would throw us back into things.

Jo was usually proved right.

She would remind you of that while talking you into the next great adventure.

Jo was a political activist to the bones and her politics was about what you could do.

This is not to say she wasn’t a thinker.

Jo thought about issues deeply and she understood them deeply.

But part of her special gift was that she could talk about them.

Driving Jo around, between meetings and events, to catch trains, spending time together in work and out of work, we talked about anything and everything.

In hundreds of conversations, I never felt for a second I was her audience.

Jo interrogated your ideas and she let you interrogate hers.

I have always felt like this ability to dialogue was her special talent.

It was a beautiful quality that endeared her to people, and them to her.

An hour before she was so tragically killed, Jo held court in the sales office of a local business.

Angloco have been building and
selling fire engines across the globe for 50 years, all from our tiny corner of the world.

It was the kind of visit Jo was so excited to do.

From their office on the first floor, next door to Batley Station, their team speak to the world.

As Jo danced between adjudicating and leading a debate on the EU referendum, I stood inches from her.

I thought two things in that moment.

First, as I scanned the room and looked at the reactions of the people she was talking with, I could see that she had done what she always managed to do. She had won their respect, even the people who disagreed with her.

The second feeling was a more
private one, but no less common. I felt proud to be associated with her. I
told her that on the day she was elected in 2015, and on several subsequent occasions.

For all Jo’s talent and ability to communicate, and her appreciation of just how complex some issues could be, her true Yorkshire roots were found in the simplicity and the bravery of how she responded.

The path to a solution started with a simple proposition for Jo.

If you can do something to make things better, then you should.

A part of remembering Jo is remembering where she came from.

She left Yorkshire but she came back with a humble mission to make a difference.

A calling from our special county.

It comforts me to think that when Jo was working in war zones across the world, or climbing some far away mountain, or sitting on the green benches of Parliament, that she
would daydream about Batley, Heckmondwike and Cleckheaton, about home.

Modesty is a part of our character and there was no self-aggrandisement with Jo. She simply worked hard at doing the right thing and believed it might make a difference.

A month from now our thoughts will turn to ourselves, and each other, as the dawn of the New Year gives us a chance for renewal.

There is probably something we could all be doing to make a difference.

Somebody or something we have the power to help in our communities.

Wherever you’re from and wherever you are, across the globe, as the clock strikes midnight, most of us will take a minute to think about that, and perhaps even resolve to do something for the greater good.

In that moment, love will be winning. People like Jo will be winning.

Dathan Tedesco was Senior Parliamentary Assistant to Jo Cox, the murdered Batley & Spen MP.

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