There are many things that we take for granted in Britain. We had cause to reflect on this after the Orlando massacre, as we took some comfort from the fact that such atrocities are mercifully rare in this country.
Today, after the senseless and shocking murder of Labour MP Jo Cox, we should pause once again to consider how fortunate we are to live in a democracy that puts few barriers between the people and their politicians.
Jo Cox, elected just last year to serve her community, was murdered outside her regular advice surgery in the Birstall Library in her Leeds constituency. In the words of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn: “Jo died doing her public duty at the heart of our democracy, listening to and representing the people she was elected to serve.” In the heat of political debate, especially at the height of a referendum campaign, it can be easy to forget that the vast majority of our MPs are rooted in their constituencies, driven by a desire to improve the lives of others. It's clear from her short time in Parliament that Jo Cox exemplified this ethos.
Her husband, Brendan – with whom she had two young children – paid tribute to this quality in a powerful statement released after the announcement of her death. “Jo believed in a better world and she fought for it every day,” he said. Tributes and condolences continue to pour in from across the political spectrum. Partisan divisions have melted away. The Prime Minister recognised her as “a star for her constituents, a star in Parliament and a star right across the House”. He also supported the temporary suspension of the referendum campaigns. In the City last night, instead of the traditional Mansion House speeches, George Osborne paid tribute to Jo Cox and to the resilience of the system in which she served.
There can be no doubt that this brutal crime constitutes an attack on our democracy and on the principles that underpin it. Such an attack can only be met with a renewed determination to uphold and strengthen our commitment to the values that were, according to those who knew her, embodied by Jo Cox. There will be questions about the motive of the killer and debates about the security of MPs. For now though, a community is in shock and a family grieves.