CGM blog: The living years

If you can indeed look down from heaven can you imagine how MP Jo Cox would feel seeing and hearing the eulogies about her life cut so tragically short.

Today Parliament will reconvene to pay respects and politicians of all persuasions have already shed tears and shared remarkable tributes to someone who devoted her life to others – notably the plight of migrants, humanitarian charity Oxfam, her constituents in the parliamentary seat of Batley and Spen and, of course, her family.

These are the best of values. Rarely has someone who shone so briefly in public life appeared to have made such an impact on those who met and worked with her. Jo’s was by all accounts was a life well lived. She died loved and respected.

Wouldn’t we all like to have something similar said about us when we finally shuffle off this mortal coil? But how many of us talk about it rather than do it?

Maybe the best lesson any of us can learn is to emulate Jo by doing good while we can. You never know when life can be cut short.

It also seems that Jo’s positivity is wholly preferential to the negativism which struck her down. There’s an inconvenient truth here – we should always focus on people and not vague stereotypes.

It would be easy for opponents to dismiss the likes of Jo Cox as a ‘do-gooder’ (gosh, how I hate that phrase), a bleeding heart liberal (small ‘l’), migrant excuser and of being pro-EU and refusing to put Britain first (whatever that means).

Flipping the coin, Thursday was arguably the day Nigel Farage’s luck ran out.

Stood besides his despicable Citizen Kane style ‘Breaking Point’ poster of a snaking queue of migrants, Farage looked everything Jo Cox, wasn’t – dignified, but most notably an MP, having failed seven times to join the ‘Westminster bubble’ he so frequently scorns, and loves to mock for being ‘out of touch’.

Yet Cox was rooted – she represented the town she grew up in yet was equally happy to be a citizen of the world. One of her apparent strengths and sources of popularity was speaking to people of all parties and persuasions to get things done for the common good.

Last Thursday was Farage’s Neil Kinnock (‘We’re alllrigghtt’) or Michael Portillo (‘who dares wins’) moment. It was also misguided. His Brexit allies have distanced themselves from the hatred of the message.

While Jo Cox was a positive doer, Farage is a negative naysayer with no discernible track record in actually doing a single thing for the Britain he claims to love so much or the constituents he should seek to serve.

Living legacies matter.

Chris Green is an award-winning author and broadcaster – and managing partner of Chris Green Media – which inspires organisations to communicate better by connecting deeper.