The best thing about my Blog is the title. In case you ever wondered “Keeping An Eye On The Czar of Russia” is a reference to the editor of a small County Cork newspaper who took an unlikely interest in world affairs. In the mid-19th century he finished an editorial with the words “the Skibbereen Eagle is keeping an eye on the Czar of Russia”.
This sums up this Blog. A short, fat, baldy man on an ipad. Keeping an eye on President Obama, David Cameron, Máirtín ÓMuilleoir, the European Union, Stephen Nolan….and the rest.
I do all this so that you dont have to. You can all sleep peacefully in your beds. As the Editor of the Skibbereen Eagle worried about the expansion of the Russian Empire, “FitzjamesHorse” worries about the expansion of LetsGetAlongerism.
Maybe this Blog is the Diary of a Nobody. Because in many ways, a lot of the 1,500 posts written so far, are actually a journal. My reaction ….my instant reaction to events. Often knee-jerk reactions. I rarely look into the Blog’s Archive …best to just type, publish and move on.
At some point, I must hand over the password to the Blog to my sons. Maybe it will be interesting…a family heirloom of sorts.
It is the nature of “knee jerk reactions” that they are not thought out. Yet the instant nature makes them extremely honest and really setting a standard of not reacting to events until (say) 72 hours has elapsed is a dishonest version to present to Posterity.
Yet thats the problem with the Internet.Twitter, Facebook and 24 Hour News (available online) is not only instant but it actually feeds back into the event itself. Fifty years ago, Marshall McLewan (sp) told us that “the media is the message”. And he could not have foreseen that news channels show “status on Facebook” and “tweets” as part of a story.
So I am wary of “instant reaction” particuarly with sensitive news stories like the murder of Jo Cox. It is impossible to express full horror at the event without reflecting on the consequence. There SHOULD be a decent interval but even to suggest that is an instant reaction that it itself sets the agenda by trying to set a narrative.
So thats the context that I am presenting a series of “knee jerk” reactions.
The news outlets will soon be unable to say anything if a man is actually charged with the murder. In the last 24 hours, since a man has been arrested, journalists have been door-stepping his neighbours and establishing a back story for the arrested man…a loner (they are always “loners”) right wing eccentric. It seems wrong to say “nut job” because seemingly he did have learning difficulties and/or a mental illness.
Yet “lefties” react to the murder of a Labour MP with irritation that the mental illness angle is played up while the mental health issues of the Jihadist murderer of soldier, Lee Rigby were played down. A curious mirror image.
Another knee jerk reaction is that Jo Cox was a woman MP and therefore her murder by a man is an attack on “feminism”. I think this over-states it. In fact, it is just plain wrong. As a short fat baldy man of 64, I certainly note that Jo Cox was a petite and slim person and probably as vulnerable to an attack as I am. But the last serious attack on a MP was six years ago was a knife attack on Stephen Timms…plainly a man and the tallest man in the British House of Commons. He is 6ft 7 inches tall.
For myself, I find myself embarrased that I only recall reading the name of Jo Cox on one occasion in the last year and yet she plainly made an impression on others at Westminster. It is not often you see the human side of David Cameron and George Osborne. Plainly she was liked.
And part of that likeability has to be the authenticity. A lot of people can empathise with the story that she was the first member of her family to graduate from university. It is almost a political cliché. Neil Kinnock started that trend.
But the “first in my family” graduates either settle for that one step further up on the ladder (and parents and grandparents can be happy) or they can have a heightened sense of ambition to climb that ladder.
Jo Cox, the young student from a working class background in West Yorkshire seems anbitious and savvy enough to know that the route to achieving her ambitions for her own people meant networking at the highest level.
The Kinnock connexion interests me. Neil Kinnock working class boyo from the Welsh Valleys did ok for himself. Labour MP. Labour Leader. European Commissioner. I could live happily on his pensions. And not forgetting his wife GLenys who was a Member of the European Union. I bet she is worth a few bob. Not to mention that Stephen Kinnock (son of the above)was elected a Westminster MP last year. Jo Cox was savvy enough to work in Brussels for the Kinnocks but even then she would have known that her journey from working class girl to Labour MP would be more problematic.
Also working alongside Sarah Brown (wife of Gordon Brown, Prime Minister)….it was all going to help when Jo Cox presented her CV to her local constituency party, ahead of the 2015 Selection Convention.
For lets be honest, in the two decades since Jo Cox graduated from Cambridge University, the odds that a working class girl could become a Labour MP in Yorkshire lengthened rather than shortened ….it actually became harder for her.
In that time, Jo Cox would have seen dazzling Londoners, Yvette Cooper (Pontefract) and Ed Milliband (Doncaster) go into the House of Commons.
Not to mention unlikely northerners like Tony B Liar (Sedgefield), David Milliband (South Shields) and Peter Mandelson (Hartlepool). In her short life, Jo Cox saw the Labour Party disconnect from the northern working class. She deserves credit for fighting that trend.
Meanwhile another “Labour” man, Ben Bradshaw (London-born and son of a vicar, former BBC journalist and probably not the first of his family to go to university) …MP for Exeter says that Jo Cox never lost her “Yorkshire accent”. Indeed it is remarkable…a Labour MP in Yorkshire. Cooper and Miliband never managed to find a Yorkshire accent. Nor indeed did Ben Bradshaw ever find a west-country accent.
There is an election campaign going on. The Referendum campaign has been nasty. Campaigning has been suspended in a rare outbreak of Decency. But lets not kid ourselves that away from the public statements of sympathy, behind closed doors there will be conversations that the murder will have implications for the result.
My gut feeling is that the murder of Jo Cox helps the REMAIN side. Whatever the motivations of the killer, he seemed to have right wing views and Jo Cox was campaigning for a REMAIN vote.
There are not so subtle attempts on Twitter to exploit this.
Shame on the REMAIN people who do this.
In a lot of cases these are the same people who (quite rightly) urged us not to link all Muslims to the act of a single Muslim in Orlando. Nor should we condemn LEAVERS for the act of a single weirdo in West Yorkshire.
REMAINERS, Lefties and liberals cant have it both ways.
Meanwhile Rod Liddle, journalist writes that the Referendum should be cancelled. Even if this is possible, he makes the important point that the campaign has been a disgrace. Of course some people feel that Rod Liddle is a disgrace but thats a different point.
Rather than the Referendum being called off, it is maybe a better idea to just boycott it…show distaste for the political class and the politically ambitious (do we really need Will Straw, son of Jack as a Labour MP?).
Maybe confound the political class by walking into a polling station in six days and writing just two words on the ballot paper….”Jo Cox”