Jonny Oates on rejecting the easy option of cynicism and taking the harder route of making the world a better place

Late on Thursday night, Liberal Democrat peer Jonny Oates put his very powerful reaction to Jo Cox’s murder on his Facebook page. With his permission, it’s reproduced here.

Enough, now, with the angry people. Enough with the raging and the cries of betrayal. Enough with the cynicism. Enough with the shout that every politician is dodgy, or on the take or untruthful. Enough with those who fuel the cynicism in their puerile, childish headlines or their languid, over-sophisticated commentaries. Enough with those who would never step up to the plate, do the work or accept the accountability. Enough with those who twist the slightest openness in the words of politicians and then complain when their words become closed and their language obtuse. Enough with those who have never done anything for anyone but are happy to question the motives of any person who attempts to do so. Enough of those people who listen only to their own opinion and then castigate MPs for being out of touch – MPs who week in and week out are in their towns and villages, on the doorsteps, in their surgeries, listening to others, soaking up pain and grief and suffering and often abuse. Enough of the people who fuel the rage, enough of those who can take the image of suffering and desperate people, robbed of dignity and hope and of the lives of those they love and use it for their political advantage. Enough of all the rage and division and hatred.


Time to stop the anger and ask ourselves what sort of country do we want to be? What can we do to truly honour Jo Cox, who in her life, said no to the easy option of cynicism and took the much harder route of trying to make the world a better place. Jo Cox’s murder is a wake up call to all of us. If we can show just an iota of the courage and love that Jo showed in her life, or just one ounce of the compassionate bravery that her husband has shown since her death, then we can and will create the better world that Jo Cox lived and worked for.

Read more by or more about , or .
This entry was posted in News.
Advert

33 Comments

  • At the 1975 referendum I remember distributing a Young Liberal sticker which said “Love Like Europeans!” It’s a bit late now – but it would have been appropriate still.

  • Perhaps the best approach NOW would be for the parties to agree to cancel the referendum and look at the matter again in say October. Give everyone time to reflect on what they may have contributed to.

  • Thank you for this post.We must all try to listen to those with whom we disagree but the responsibility rests with everyone to talk in ways which dont spark enmity and distrust

  • Theakes, no That would be the worst thing, and pour fuel on the fire of the conspiracy theorists.

  • @theakes
    While I can understand why you would say that – who on earth has the stomach for politics right now? – I fear Jennie is right, and to stop the referendum would be to give a killer far more influence over our democracy than he ought to.

    But I do see your point. People will now have to make a profound decision at a time when their minds are not quite thinking straight due to the trauma of what has happened. For my part, I certainly won’t take the slightest bit of interest in what’s left of this campaign; my voting intention will stay fixed as it was on Thursday morning.

  • Christopher Haigh 18th Jun '16 - 2:32pm

    @theakes- I agree. This referendum should be cancelled.We elect politicians to make decisions in Parliament. This experiment in vox pop has really brought the worst out in people and is making England an unpleasant place to live.

  • “Time to stop the anger and ask ourselves what sort of country do we want to be?”

    Well for starters, maybe a country not bound by people we didn’t elect and can’t get rid of? You know the kind of folk I mean,.. like EU Commissioners,.. crony appointed Lords?

  • Richard Underhill 18th Jun '16 - 6:20pm

    J Dunn: Tories, Labour and Liberal Democrats were all in favour of Lords’ reform but it did not pass the Commons because even the elected house was unwilling.
    Decisions in the EU are taken by the Council of Ministers, indirectly elected, with MEPs, directly elected.

  • Jayne Mansfield 18th Jun '16 - 6:37pm

    J Dunn,
    Surely we can argue for those sort of things without descending into propaganda posters showing Syrian refugees entering Slovenia last year with the slogan ‘Breaking point’.

    Surely we can have a discussion about the limits the electorate would like to see on population growth without resorting to tactics that frighten people into thinking that the whole of Turkey is about to arrive on our shores.

    Surely it is possible for even partisan newspapers like the Daily Mail to take care and not print inflammatory photographs of Syrians and Iraqi stowaways with children with the incorrect headline, ‘We’re from Europe -let us in.headline’.

    Surely J Dunn, you can, given that you are clearly intelligent , see the ugliness and toxic, possibilities that this sort of behaviour can lead to?

    Have we learned nothing from 20th century history?

  • The problem is Jayne that the EU cannot be trusted to tell the truth. No one minds people holidaying here. What they mind is a lack of control on immigration when their own circumstances are so marginal. If you can’t discuss these things openly then the political system has failed. For 20 years the issue has been brushed under the carpet and it fuels resentment.

    Liberals have to be able to take on all arguments and work out policies that deal with the insecurities. If they have to shed orthodoxies so be it.

  • I live in Lincolnshire which is pretty much rock solid in it’s support for leave and I don’t know anyone that supports the UKIP poster or media coverage that Jane Mansfield so rightly condemns. Many have no objection taking in refugees who are in need, or taking in immigrants from all over the world who will benefit the UK. I think that is what many on the remain side fail to understand, it’s not immigration they are against it’s the unlimited bit they don’t want. These people are not the BNP, most are not even UKIP supporters, but they see a lack of housing and services in their areas and more people arriving all the time. They don’t hate anyone, but they have been let down by politicians of all parties for a long time now and are just saying enough is enough.

  • @Jayne
    “Surely we can have a discussion about the limits the electorate would like to see on population growth without resorting to tactics that frighten people into thinking that the whole of Turkey is about to arrive on our shores.”

    Totally. We need to remove the demonisation and emotion from the immigration debate. (As distinct from the refugee debate, where some emotion is required.) In an ideal world, this would be almost a “technical” discussion about the optimum number of people we need, and how best to manage their integration in to our society. I believe that kind of discussion would be much closer to how most people actually feel, since I think (and polls bear this out) that most people are in favour of some immigration but not unlimited immigration.

    That’s the kind of debate we SHOULD have. Instead we get awful demonisation of immigrants as in the poster, countered by accusations of xenophobia against anybody who expresses any concerns at all. All this is achieving is to make lots of people from both sides angry.

  • Malc,

    I doubt if anyone on the Remain side is saying that immigration is a no-go area for voicing legitimate concerns. What most of us are saying (I think) is that it is irresponsible for politicians to exploit concerns about immigration for short-term electoral advantage.

    Before I talk about the specific example of Lincolnshire, I think I should sound a note of caution. There is more than one Leave campaign. That now infamous poster was issued by Nigel Farage, not by Johnson and Gove. When we criticise the Leave campaign, we need to say which Leave campaign. That’s only fair.

    Having said that, Johnson and Gove, faced with a vote at end end of this month, have proved quite willing to join Farage in lighting the immigration touch paper, knowing how incendiary it has proved in recent history (Notting Hill Riots, Enoch Powell’s Midland Hotel speech). We should expect better of a Minister of the Crown and a former London Mayor.

    Lincolnshire, a below average per capita income region that until recently saw few outsiders, has witnessed a major influx of EU immigrants in the last few years. A few weeks ago I was in Wisbech, and from parking my car to reaching the town centre, every single voice that I heard was speaking an East European language. But there is a “why” question that we need to ask. Why are there so many East Europeans living in Wisbech? The answer is that local people are not exactly queuing up to take the low wage agricultural jobs that the East Europeans are willing to do. It is a straightforward case of supply and demand. It is a product of the very free market that the leading Leave campaigners so proudly espouse.

    The East Europeans were causing no trouble, and the locals were causing them no trouble. But there was a psychological stand-off, nonetheless. Politicians should be trying to heal that, not inflaming it.

  • But, Stuart, your comments, like so many others seem bent on achieving what WE (the UK) wants. The point is, surely, that the world, and Europe, are in various sticky situations. There is no room for selfish club members – or non-members for that matter, to act as passengers, and expect everyone else to go along with the situation. Yes, we would love to make the world a better place – that has always been why I have spent so much of my life on political action of various kinds – but in order to do that we need an understanding that by working together, and sometimes sacrificing when others are in real problems. As we see from our imperfect world, too much inequality, too much selfishness, leads inevitably to some type of conflict, whether violent or not.

  • Denis Mollison 18th Jun '16 - 10:44pm

    J Dunn
    Taken all in all, the EU is more democratic than our government, elected by a minority of voters and with the unelected Lords. For an explanation of how the EU works I recommend
    http://eulawanalysis.blogspot.co.uk/2016/06/referendum-briefing-3-does-eu-have.html

    With key issues such as globalisation and climate change the world is getting smaller, and the need to work with other countries increasing; `taking back control’, i.e. pretending that we can act completely independent of the rest of the world, is a terrible retrograde idea.

  • Denis Mollison 18th Jun '16 - 10:51pm

    Jane – “the EU cannot be trusted to tell the truth” ??
    What do you mean by this? What is the evidence that the EU (whichever part of it you mean) tells the truth any less than our own government?

  • Tim13 recons :
    “There is no room for selfish club members – or non-members for that matter, to act as passengers, and expect everyone else to go along with the situation.”

    Curiously, there are 195 countries on this planet, and for some inexplicable reason, 168 of them get along just fine, without need of an EU Clubcard membership, costing £19 billion per year fee (net), and who’s terms and conditions include the bizarrely supine act of giving up your sovereignty, to a group of unknown people no-one wanted,.. and no-one voted for.? As for being passengers,… fingers crossed, hopefully we can lift that burden from the EU soon, and wish them well as they thrive onwards and upwards, without our dead weight encumbrance.?

  • @Denis Mollison – Jean-Claude Juncker famously said “when it becomes serious you have to lie”. Perhaps we should regard this admission as admirable candour from Mr Juncker. Undoubtedly HM Government is occasionally “economical with the actualite” too, but I wouldn’t expect the PM to tell me so.

  • Bill le Breton 19th Jun '16 - 9:18am

    The prophecy of the ‘compound ghost’ – Little Gidding – Eliot:
    “… Let me disclose the gifts reserved for age
    To set a crown upon your lifetime’s effort.
    First, the cold friction of expiring sense
    Without enchantment, offering no promise
    But bitter tastelessness of shadow fruit
    As body and soul begin to fall asunder.
    Second, the conscious impotence of rage
    At human folly, and the laceration
    Of laughter at what ceases to amuse.
    And last, the rending pain of re-enactment
    Of all that you have done, and been; the shame
    Of things ill done and done to others’ harm
    Which once you took for exercise of virtue.
    Then fools’ approval stings, and honour stains.
    From wrong to wrong the exasperated spirit
    Proceeds, unless restored by that refining fire
    Where you must move in measure, like a dancer.”

  • Andrew McCaig 19th Jun '16 - 12:17pm

    J Dunn,

    Please do not include me in your “no-ones”.

    The EU commission is a civil service. No country in the world elects its civil service, and in most countries they do not change when the government changes (an exception being the USA, to some extent). The EU commissioners perform the same role, pretty much, as the Permanent Secretaries in the UK. They do what the politicians of the day tell them to do, with greater or lesser enthusiasm.

    In the case of the EU the Commission gets blamed for all sorts of things the British government or civil service has done, as well as doing both sensible (mobile phone charges anyone?) and foolish (Common Agricultural Policy in some but not all respects) things off its own back.

  • Andrew McCaig 19th Jun '16 - 12:29pm

    J Dunn,

    And by the way the net annual contribution is between £8 billion and £9 billion. (~160 £million per week). You have obviously been taken in by the misleading Leave campaign, and perhaps you should reflect on that before casting your vote…That is equivalent to about 1.5p on income tax, to put it in perspective… Most independent economists think that this membership fee brings economic benefits that far outweigh that amount. That is why the financial markets are so worried about Brexit..

  • Jayne Mansfield 19th Jun '16 - 12:39pm

    @ Jane,
    People have been discussing immigration openly for the past twenty years. Whether politicians have been listening to their concerns and taking them into account is another matter. The more I read of the argument for leave and remain, the more I find that any political deficiencies lie as much with our elected politicians as with the EU.

    It is the tone of the debate, with some of our politicians using scapegoating to deflect problems that people are facing that I that I object to, and I hope that all decent people will object to.

    There is a whiff of the 1930’s coming from some quarters.

  • Maybe the reason there’s a lot of cynicism about politicians is because politics seems overly concerned with the business of politics rather than the business of representing the electorate.
    What happened to Jo Cox is horrible, but the attempts to turn it into the symptom of a deeper malaise are a little distasteful. She wasn’t murder by a cynical public. She was murdered by a mentally ill man who held white supremacist views and who had an interest in American survivalist conspiracy theories.

  • Peter Watson 19th Jun '16 - 3:21pm

    @Sesenco “The answer is that local people are not exactly queuing up to take the low wage agricultural jobs that the East Europeans are willing to do.”
    The dilemma this raises, and it is a factor in different industries and sectors of the economy, is whether native British workers are not willing to do the work or if they are not willing to do it for the salaries and employment contracts that employers want to offer. We can also throw into the mix whether or not employers are choosing to employ experienced migrants rather than provide training to young British workers.
    The preference of the Remain campaign to shut down the debate with accusations of racism or simply to say, “It’s the economy, stupid” rather than address these and other issues around immigration has been one of my biggest disappointments in the EU debate.

  • Jayne Mansfield 19th Jun '16 - 4:59pm

    @ Peter Watson,
    I used to queue up and hope that I was one of the lucky ones who managed to successfully clamber onto the back of a lorry so that I would be paid as a casual labourer picking peas or potatoes.

    I am not sure that the sort of agricultural work that Eastern Europeans undertake in Lincolnshire was ever well paid. Nevertheless people like myself were prepared to do it.

    As for better paid jobs, I am not sure that a UK led by a bunch of neo-liberal Corporatist politicians such as those leading the Leave campaign, would , if we left the EU, be politically inclined to formulate policies that meant that the economy, and our social welfare provisions worked for the people who feel aggrieved.

    I suspect, from past history and past glimpses into their political beliefs and values, not. So, as far as I am concerned, we may as well stay, grudgingly, with what we’ve got and argue for reform, something that this party should have been arguing for long before this referendum. Instead, there seems to have been far too much complacency with the status quo.

  • Is there actually any evidence (in the form of serious research, not anecdotes) that British people will not do the kinds of low paid jobs done by immigrants?

    British people were apparently prepared to do these jobs just a few years ago. What made them stop? In countries where better salaries are offered for these kinds of jobs (e.g. Finland) the number of EU migrants is tiny, just a few thousand.

  • Stuart.
    Exactly. The truth is most of these jobs are done through agencies and a lot of these agencies only recruit outside of Britain. Also a lot of advocates of free movement of labour invariably concentrate on things like picking turnips and ignore the reality that there are factories and warehouses doing the same thing. Even the Labour Party recognised this as a problem.

    The point it’s an industry.

  • Stuart wrote:

    “Is there actually any evidence (in the form of serious research, not anecdotes) that British people will not do the kinds of low paid jobs done by immigrants?”

    Yes. About ten years ago I was working in the HR department of a new distribution warehouse. One of my jobs was to process application-forms. Over half those forms came from immigrants, most of them either Africans or East Europeans. Despite the deeply racist attitudes of those conducting the interviews, the company was forced to appoint immigrants because there were not enough native people to fill the vacancies, and those native people who applied were less reliable and had less positive attitudes than the immigrants. The pay was above the minimum wage (£18k pa for the day shift, £21k pa for the night shift, from memory). Working conditions included a serious injury a week and a high incidence of bullying.

    I often wonder what the response of the labour market would be if the government decided to reopen the mines. My suspicion is that it would be necessary to rely almost entirely on immigrant labour. Even the poorest and most downtrodden in this country have expectations of their working environment far higher than what their fathers and grandfathers were willing to put up with. The neo-Hegelian right would doubtless call that namby-pamby. OK. Let Johnson and Gove do those jobs and see how long they last.

  • Matthew Huntbach 20th Jun '16 - 10:46am

    Sesenco

    Despite the deeply racist attitudes of those conducting the interviews, the company was forced to appoint immigrants because there were not enough native people to fill the vacancies, and those native people who applied were less reliable and had less positive attitudes than the immigrants.

    In the past they would have had no choice, they would have had to find a way of getting native people to do the jobs, and of developing the right sort of culture and attitude. Why are we accepting the racist line that British people are no good, therefore it is necessary to employ immigrants? And how long are we going to keep on doing this? It is surely unsustainable to say that for every generation we must bring in another few million immigrants into our country because our economy cannot work without them.

    What I think has happened is that the work-oriented attitude and culture that used to be such a feature of Britain has been destroyed by Thatcherism. The anti-conservative (small-c) nature of Thatcherism played a big part in this – it was considered fine to smash up culture and leave people rootless, let industry and the work-oriented culture that was part of it be destroyed, keep people in a casualised situation. Thatcherism was also about pushing the message that making money wasn’t about hard work, oh no, it is all about owning things, shares and houses and that. Only mugs work hard to make money, and maybe the immigrants are the mugs.

    Only, of course, most of the people in this country don’t come from the sort of posh background where Thatcherism works for you. If you do, oh yes, you have the ownership to make money, and all the connections and class prejudice working in your favour to do well – and you think it is just down to your own hard work, but it is not.

    So we have developed a culture where people who do not have posh backgrounds try to ape the culture of those that do, because the message is put out by the high and mighty (who know no better) that that’s the way to succeed. Only they don’t, and can’t.

    So the high and mighty then say “oh those useless plebs, let’s bring in some immigrants who’ll suck up to us more to replace them”.

  • Matthew Huntbach 20th Jun '16 - 10:54am

    Sesenco

    The pay was above the minimum wage (£18k pa for the day shift, £21k pa for the night shift, from memory). Working conditions included a serious injury a week and a high incidence of bullying.

    If you are young, and have it mind that this is just a temporary thing and one day you’ll go home, where that sort of money goes much further, maybe you’ll accept that. But what if you know that’s your life for ever?

    Or if you have secure housing for your family, what was called “council housing”, maybe it’s easier to accept it. But if you know it means you will never be able to have a family, never be able to have secure and stable roof over your head?

  • What I think has happened is that the work-oriented attitude and culture that used to be such a feature of Britain has been destroyed by Thatcherism.

    Matthew, whilst that may be a factor, I think there are two corrosive attitudes that have taken hold; across the political spectrum that have had the biggest impact. The first arising in the post war period , namely, some jobs were beneath native people, hence why we should import people, in the first instance from the Caribbean. Now we are much less specific, just as long as these people do the jobs the native people either don’t want to do or are too expensive to train. The second, is that the use of immigrant works has become normal, hence rather than address the local issues – giving all the usual procrastination arguments as to why this is too difficult, it is much easier to simply just use immigrant workers and forget about the locals. Hence why we are now seeing many unthinkingly saying we need immigrants to fill the jobs etc. otherwise our economy will stop growing…

    Hence why immigration is an issue regardless of Leave/Remain.

  • Sensico;
    It’s funny coz when I was a student just before Labour signed up to the free movement agreement I used to do temp work and there were no shortages of local labour. Also I go into shops or whatever and the staff are mostly British. They seem okay at their jobs to me. So not all jobs are going to itinerant workers and this includes jobs that some say local people are unwilling to do. This about agencies and short term gain, destabilising job security and in some cases just good old fashioned class bigotry with the same arguments that have been knocking around since slavery and possibly since feudalism.

    I think those guys just don’t want to train people and use agencies to get high turn over of labour. It means they can ring them up and say we only need this number today. It’s like America in the depression and I do not understand why liberals romanticise it as some sort of progress.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 19th Jan - 11:17pm
    I entirely agree with all your points here, Denis. Well argued.
  • User AvatarAndrew 19th Jan - 10:06pm
    If Richard North's analysis is correct (http://www.eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=87491) our continued membership of UNECE is probably just as important: http://www.unece.org/info/ece-homepage.html The basic argument is that the EU...
  • User AvatarBrian Ellis 19th Jan - 10:04pm
    Any review of the 2019 election result should also consider the 2015 and 2017 results. The major collapse occurred in 2015 we start with that....
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 19th Jan - 8:33pm
    Talking about changing voter behaviour, I just loved this James Cleverly comment today linking democracy with the unelected Upper Chamber. "The government is examining whether...
  • User AvatarDavid Warren 19th Jan - 8:22pm
    Thanks for this Alex. I am hoping Elizabeth Warren wins the nomination and goes onto be elected President.
  • User AvatarMichael Beckett 19th Jan - 8:13pm
    So no cheap sock puppet manipulating public perception and no automated bots or those that don't care enough about their digital identity to reveal it....