A little over a year ago, I wrote this
, about what I wanted from the UK government. After the general election, I did something I’d consciously rejected all my adult life: I joined a political party. Slowly, verry slowly, I’ve been getting involved in my local party’s activities. I attended a meeting for the first time about a month ago, about campaigning for the Remain side on the EU referendum.
Now, in my constituency, joining any party other than the Conservatives could be seen as a bit of a jolly. Put it this way: Sajid Javid (Business Secretary) is my MP. He toes the party line so hard it’s a wonder he’s not permanently wearing sandals. But still, for me, a naturally cautious person, it was a big step. Even working myself up to entertaining the idea of campaigning for a political cause took me far outside my comfort zone.
Some of that caution has been trained into me. Many scientists discourage their proteges from being actively political. The message that’s tacitly (and sometimes overtly) drilled into us is that politics is for people who are willing to make bold, brash statements and even change laws based on very little evidence or popular sentiment. This idea is anathema to scientists, who are taught to prize the acquisition of repeatable results and well-considered, demonstrable precepts above all things. It takes months or even years to even think of putting possible conclusions based on those results before your peers.Politicians simply don’t have that kind of time to make decisions.
Anyway, my point is that for the first time in my life, I was actually willing to, however remotely, entertain the notion of running for a political office.
And then, today, Jo Cox MP, who has been outspokenly supportive of refugees and campaigned for the UK to remain in the EU, was killed in the street by a man who allegedly shouted “Britain First”* as he committed the crime.
Jo Cox is, apparently, the first MP to be murdered since Ian Gow, who was killed by a car bomb planted by the IRA. In 1990.
Jo Cox is a woman only a couple of years older than I am. Jo Cox is survived by her husband and two small children, aged three and five.
So if you’re asking, is this heinous crime going to put women off of the idea of becoming active in politics? I can assure you that the answer is yes.
* an ultra-right political group