YP Letters: Betty Boothroyd – why we must overcome the hatred that killed Jo Cox

Baroness Boothroyd who has written a poignant letter in tribute to Jo Cox.
Baroness Boothroyd who has written a poignant letter in tribute to Jo Cox.
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From: Rt Hon Baroness Boothroyd OM, House of Lords.

JO Cox was a fellow Yorkshirewoman who represented the neighbouring constituency to my home town not 20 miles from where I was born in Dewsbury.

She was a rising star in my old party. She championed humanitarian causes that are dear to my own heart. So I pay tribute to her with pride in her achievements, great sadness at her cruel and untimely death and hope that her example will inspire a reawakening of the values our country has always stood for, and which are now at risk.

When she was elected to represent Batley & Spen, she declared “I’ve got the job I’ve always dreamed of” – a feeling many new MPs have, and just how I felt 43 years ago.

Her self-confidence was daunting, her enthusiasm was infectious. She said at he outset that she was not going to be intimidated by the House of Commons, a bold approach to a House that is heavily male-orientated. Nor was she.

Ignoring tradition, she intervened in the debate on the new government’s programme before she had even made her maiden speech next day.

Her first words left the House in no doubt about her qualities and the passion of her beliefs.

She had recently visited Dewsbury District Hospital, which I know well. She said its mental health unit did amazing work for local people. She made the point that the numbers of vulnerable people who need mental health care were expected to soar over the next five years and our mental health care services will have to meet an increasing demand. She was concerned about it and expected Parliament to be concerned, too.

The tragic circumstances of her brutal killing confirmed her fears in a way nobody thought possible and we are all the poorer.

Her devotion to public service stemmed from her beliefs in the dignity of mankind. Politics was not a game for her in one-upmanship.

Pope Francis put his finger on the crisis that faces us last month when he asked: “What has happened to you, Europe, the mother of peoples and nations, the mother of great men and women who upheld and even sacrificed their lives for the dignity of their brothers and sisters?”

Jo Cox was one of those women.

We must overcome the hatred that killed her and threatens us all – for the sake of her motherless children and generations yet to come.