British press tone down their coverage in wake of death of popular Labour MP, will it last?

British press tone down their coverage in wake of death of popular Labour MP, will it last?



The killer was identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a 'longtime supporter of the neo-Nazi National Alliance' and reportedly shouted 'Britain First" during the attack.

The death of a Labour member of Parliament by a supporter of the neo-Nazi group National Alliance has the British press unusually tame today. The normally flamboyant tabloids have decided to tone down their coverage, simply reporting the facts of the killing without the usual headline writing common on most days.

Labour MP Jo Cox, a supporter of remaining in the European Union, was shot multiple times by a man police identified as Thomas Mair, 52. The man was quickly identified as a supporter of a far right wing organization, and may have attacked the British politician using a homemade gun, as well as a knife. Witness reports say he shouted “Britain First” as he shot Cox.

“According to records obtained by the Southern Poverty Law Center Mair was a dedicated supporter of the National Alliance (NA), the once premier neo-Nazi organization in the United States, for decades. Mair purchased a manual from the NA in 1999 that included instructions on how to build a pistol,” the US organization said yesterday.


The death of Cox comes a week before the UK is set to vote on a referendum that could take the UK out of the European Union. The latest polls have shocked the British establishment as support for the “Leave” side has now surpassed that of “Remain”. As a result the value of the Pound has continued to fall as investors worry about the economic impact exiting the EU would have on business, especially in London, considered the financial capitol of Europe.

Both sides of the debate suspended their campaigns following the killing, and both sides are expected to cancel events this week, though door-to-door campaigning will resume. No one knows what impact the murder of an MP will have on referendum

The Coverage:

The Times, Lucy Fisher and Valentine Low:

Jo Cox had only been an MP for just over a year, but with her warmth, her sincerity and her humanity she had in that short time already made her mark.

She may have died a victim of hatred, but in her life she represented the best of what people had to offer: she was genuine, inspiring and with a steely commitment that belied her tiny stature. In the words of her fellow Yorkshire MP Sarah Champion, she was “a lion”.

The Scotsman:

The husband of murdered MP Jo Cox has urged people to “fight against the hatred that killed her.”

In a statement, Brendan Cox said: “Today is the beginning of a new chapter in our lives. More difficult, more painful, less joyful, less full of love. I and Jo’s friends and family are going to work every moment of our lives to love and nurture our kids and to fight against the hate that killed Jo.”

“Jo believed in a better world and she fought for it every day of her life with an energy, and a zest for life that would exhaust most people.”

“She would have wanted two things above all else to happen now, one that our precious children are bathed in love and two, that we all unite to fight against the hatred that killed her. Hate doesn’t have a creed, race or religion, it is poisonous.”

The Guardian, editorial:

The slide from civilisation to barbarism is shorter than we might like to imagine. Every violent crime taints the ideal of an orderly society, but when that crime is committed against the people who are peacefully selected to write the rules, then the affront is that much more profound.

The killing, by stabbing and repeated shooting in the street, of Jo Cox is, in the first instance, an exceptionally heinous villainy. She was the mother of two very young children, who will now have to grow up without her. It is also, however, in a very real sense, an attack on democracy. Violence against MPs in Britain is mercifully rare. Only three have been killed in recent history: Airey Neave, Tony Berry and Ian Gow, all of them at the hands of the Irish republicans. Two others, Nigel Jones and Stephen Timms, have been grievously wounded, the latter by a woman citing jihadi inspiration and rage about the Iraq war. Whatever the cause, an attack on a parliamentarian is always an attack on parliament as well, which was as clear in Thursday’s case as any before.

The Telegraph:

The man being held in connection with the death of MP Jo Cox has been named as Thomas Mair, who was described as a “loner” with a history of mental health problems who had previously subscribed to a far-right magazine…

…”I don’t think he belonged to any political party and I never heard him express any views about Europe or anything like that. To us, he was just Tommy, a local bloke we all knew.

“He did not have a job but I think he went down to the Job Centre to help people on the computer from time to time – I think it was something he had to do to get his dole money.”

The Economist, Bagehot:

That is a reminder of the dangers MPs face daily; the price they pay for listening to their constituents and making themselves so approachable. A report cited by the Guardian just in January documented the abuse to which parliamentarians are routinely subjected. Of the 239 MPs surveyed, 192 said they had experienced “aggressive or intrusive behaviour”, 43 that they had been subjected to attacks or attempted attacks, 101 that they had received threats of harm. Reports included accounts of being punched in the face; of being hit with a brick; of their children being told that they would be killed; of having petrol poured through the letter box. The authorities were already trying to improve security for MPs when yesterday’s attack took place. Fresh safety advice has now been issued…

…The abuse is not confined to the deranged. It arises in an environment in which the stereotype of the lazy, venal, self-serving MP is depressingly widely accepted. This has deep roots in Britons’ ancient scepticism of authority. Yet particularly since the 2009 expenses scandal, when a handful of (frankly rather minor) scoundrels gave the decent majority a bad name, this has curdled into something darker, something nastier. In the heat of the EU referendum campaign I have attended a series of events (for the Leave side, it must be said) at which placid, middle-class Middle England types have parroted not just the usual gormless claims about MPs (“They’re all the same”, “They’re all in it for themselves”) but have tipped into outright conspiracy theorising. Britain is not a democracy, its politicians are just puppets for shadowy corporate and foreign forces, they are traitors.

Such was the febrile atmosphere in which Ms Cox was slain. It is too early to say whether it was a big-P “political” act; early reports claim Mr Mair shouted “Britain First” and has links to far-right groups. But irrespective of what investigators discover about the causes of the murder, yesterday’s ghastly incident is unequivocally political in at least one respect: it took place as a hard-working, public-spirited MP was among her constituents, serving them, trying to make their lives better; yet in a society in which such efforts go scandalously overlooked.


A Darker Sun