‘Jo Cox: More in Common’ by Brendan Cox recounts the life of the MP for Batley and Spen who was tragically murdered in an act of terrorism in June 2016. Just a few weeks before the 2019 General Election, in a period of polarised political debate, it seems an apt time to revisit the hopeful biography that united political parties.
Before turning the pages, I had read articles and a constant stream of twitter posts branding Jo as a modern heroine for her ‘more in common’ Maiden Speech to Parliament. The speech that encouraged us to put our political beliefs aside and work together led to the viral hashtag- #moreincommon - after Jo’s tragic murder. The book provides further insight into Cox’s character as a mother, wife, sister, MP and humanitarian worker.
Cox’s daily routine was a juggling act of constituency clinics, House of Commons sittings and frantic family life. Yet she was a relatable MP, with a Northern no nonsense sense of humour and a last minute work ethic that often left her scrambling out of the door to work. These intimate details of daily life add to Cox’s likeability as an MP in the political sphere of Westminster that can seem elite and distant from the daily lives of the public.
As a political activist, Cox possessed a great empathy for both her local constituents in Batley and Spen and those she worked with internationally through humanitarian work with Oxfam. She was a personable and engaged leader with a robust sense of social justice.
Cox’s constituency work was constructed on listening and valuing the diversity of her community’s views. Her success was not individualistic, but generously shared with her constituents. Scrolling through reviews, it is evident that the book’s universal trope of kindness has appealed to partisans from a full range of the political spectrum.
This overwhelmingly unifying reception to the book encapsulates Jo’s own legacy; to champion tolerance and inclusion within our communities. In this fraught time of uncertainty, regardless of our own political stance, the biography compels readers to believe that ‘we have far more in common than that which divides us’.