This is a blog post in defence of a tweet I wrote this morning which read as follows: “In honour of Jo Cox & in opposition to the haters & racists, Brits must vote remain on 23/6″
In an excellent article in The Guardian, Polly Toynbee wrote of the “corrosive” anger aroused by the forthcoming referendum on whether Britain remains or leaves the EU.The venomous reaction to my tweet could be construed as evidence of this. Here are a sample of the numerous comments I received:
- You really are despicable – exploiting her death for political gain
- Your comment is absolutely disgraceful and shames the Remain campaign
- You are a heartless, opportunistic ghoul.
- Shit for brains.
I stand by what I wrote but feel motivated to explain / defend myself beyond the 140 character limit.
As you will see if you care to check back through this blog and my Twitter profile, it is actually quite rare for me to write on overtly political issues. I was prompted to write the offending tweet because the brutal murder of this labour MP is practically unprecedented and seems to me closely, if not directly, linked to the mood of hatred and intolerance generated by the referendum.
I acknowledge that early reports about the motives for the murder are unclear, however, we already know that the killer, Thomas Mair, had sympathies with racist and neo Nazi groups. While it is by no means certain whether or not he shouted ‘Britain First’ before the attack, it is obvious that this was a sentiment that fueled his rage.
I don’t accept that linking my comment Jo Cox’s death to the ‘Remain’ vote is ghoulish and/or prompted by political opportunism. I sincerely believe that the best way to honor her memory is to continue the good work she began and to side with the causes she endorsed.
This does put an overtly political slant on her death but I think this is inevitable.As another Tweeter wrote today with heavy irony: “Let’s not politicize the political assassination of a politician over a political issue by a gunman who opposed her politics”.
Should I be telling people how to vote? Well, why not? Although I now live in Italy and can’t vote myself, I lived and worked in England for the first 40 years of my life so feel more than qualified and entitled to speak my mind.
The belief that Britain will have more control and self-determination outside the EU is, in my view, erroneous and founded on outdated notions of what made the country great in the days of empire. It’s part of a little island mentality that naively believes that social and economic questions can be contained within its borders.
Not all those who vote to leave the EU are racist but from what I have seen and read all racists are voting to exit Nigel Farage’s despicable anti-migrant poster illustrates that keeping (or kicking) foreigners out of the UK is a prominent issue for the leave campaigners. Blatant fear mongering of this kind only legitimizes the haters and racists that were the target of my Tweet and were,. I would still argue, a factor in Jo Cox’s death.
You may disagree with me, but whatever your views, please think of me as kindly ghost rather than a cold-hearted ghoul.