16/06/2016 Newsnight


Reporting on the aftermath of the death of MP Jo Cox. With Evan Davis in the studio and Kirsty Wark in Birstall.

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Just before one o'clock today, Jo Cox, MP for Batley and Spen breath,


was attacked near Birstall. I am now sadly informing issue has died from


her injuries. The murder of a sitting MP


in her constituency near Leeds, the first in this country


for over two decades. Jo Cox had not been in parliament


for long, but was a good example of a how accessible


and down to earth MPs can be. across from the library


where Jo Cox was murdered and a little over a mile


from where she was born. We'll have reaction from the local


area and I'll talking to the MP Angela Smith - one of Jo Cox's


close friends and colleagues, And we'll ask if it's time to give


MPs more security and more respect, Also tonight, we look at child


marriage in Bangladesh, where one in two girls are married


before reaching adulthood. It's not a day for arguing,


campaigning, and definitely not a day for


insulting political opponents. Politicians put differences aside


today in light of the fatal attack The first murder of a sitting MP


since the death of Ian Gow It left Westminster -


and much of the country - in shock. Yes, politics can be brutal,


but we pride ourselves on keeping it largely free


of personal violence. And indeed, we pride ourselves


on our ability to prevent the violent or mentally


ill obtaining guns. Jo Cox was a popular MP,


one who had worked for Oxfam before A perfect example to remind us that


whatever bile is thrown at the political class,


many are down to earth, Far from cutting themselves off


from the population at large, indeed, that is an issue that


will perhaps be examined now. Before we go to Yorkshire,


here's Nick Watt on Jo Cox herself. And whilst we celebrate our


diversity, the thing that surprises me time and again as I travel around


the constituency is that we are far more united and have far more in


common than that which divides us. British politics was brought to a


sudden standstill today when one of the shining lights of the next


generation was extinguished. Jo was full of love, love for her family,


love for her constituency, love for her job, she loved being an MP, and


love for the issues she campaigned so tirelessly on and for that love


to be destroyed in a mindless attack, a premeditated attack,


motivated it appears by hate, is absolutely sick. In a brief


statement this afternoon, police confirmed that Jo Cox, who had only


been the Labour MP for Batley and Spen for just over a year, had


become the first MP to be murdered since the IRA blew up Ian Gow in a


car bomb attack in 1990. Just before 1pm today, Jo Cox, MP for Batley and


Spen, was attacked in market Street, Birstall. I am now very sad to


report that she has died from her injuries. The Lord is my shepherd, I


shall not once... Not since the death of the late Labour leader John


Smith in 1994 has there been such a genuine outpouring of grief amongst


MPs across the spectrum at the loss of one of their own. The whole of


the Labour family are devastated tonight. Jo Cox has been killed


doing her duty, doing her work, as a constituency MP. She is somebody who


dedicated her life to human rights and to justice and she leaves behind


two young children, two young children who will never grow up to


see them again. They can be proud of what she was, they can be proud of


what she did and they can be very proud of everything that she stood


for. She was a bright star, no doubt about it. A star for her


constituents, a star in Parliament and right across the House.


Campaigning was suspended in the EU referendum and George Osborne ripped


up his annual Mansion house speech to remove any mention of Europe.


Instead, he paid a moving tribute to Jo Cox. Jo fought to help the


refugees from the Syrian civil war and she gave a voice to those who


are the leader whose cry for help she felt was not being heard -- to


those whose cry the help she felt was not being heard. The changed


attitudes and I noted contributed to a change in policy. She will never


know how many lives she helped transform. Today, doing their job,


she senselessly lost her own life. As a former head of policy at Oxfam,


Jo Cox was admired by colleagues as a passionate campaigner, but she was


not afraid to challenge her own party, as she did last autumn when


she said there was a strong case for military intervention in Syria. Jo


was not afraid of speaking out and standing up for what she believed


in. She was a strong campaigner. This evening, her husband Brendan


Cox hailed his wife's work, but reminded the country, in a


statement, that while she would be remembered as a great campaigner,


her first thoughts were always with their children. He said...


The dignity of the response to Jo Cox's death stands in stark contrast


to the intense and sometimes ugly whirlwind of political battles.


Perhaps the pause for reflection will lead to a kind of politics. --


a kinder politics. Well, the murder occurred


in broad daylight, on the streets of Birstall,


outside the town's library. There are lots of questions


about the mental health and potential far right


links of the suspect. Jo Cox wanted to be as accessible


as possible to her constituents many of whom she would have


known since childhood. Today, she came to this library


to her monthly surgery, it would have been advertised,


no appointment was necessary. Here she would have felt


in no danger as she dealt There is a huge sense of disbelief


and profound sadness John Sweeney has been speaking


to people in the town. And has the story of how the day


unfolded. Tonight, a brilliant star of British


politics lies dead. Instead of life and argument, Jo Cox is commemorated


by candlelight. How could it be that anyone would want to murder this


mother of two? The prime suspect is Tommy Mair. No one we have spoken to


ever suspected he might be capable of murder. What is so extraordinary


about the murder of Jo Cox is that everything has happened very


locally. The killing itself took place about a mile from here, but


this is the home of the suspect behind me. As you can see, there are


a couple of police officers and behind them, some forensic officers


who are obviously going through the House. I have spoken to some of the


neighbours, they knew this man, the suspect. They say he is quiet,


ordinary, no trouble. One of them said she saw him walk past her house


this morning. Nobody here can understand how one of their


community could have done this thing. Jo, the Labour MP for Batley


and Spen, was talking to constituents in the local library


when the assault began around 1pm today. I heard a loud noise behind


me, it sounded like a car backfiring. Obviously became aware


it was a gunshot. As I turned around to look at what the noise was, I


heard a woman screaming and a guy was bent over the woman, I could see


her leg sticking out, it looks like a gun in his hand. He proceeded


again to shoot her on the floor. She was crawling away. Two men were


wrestling the man. He then wielded the knife. The killing of Jo Cox


occurred as far as we can tie with foresight. Immediately behind the


library was where Jo was talking to her constituents. A man assaulted


her. She ran down the hill and there was a kind of running battle. Her


shoes and handbags were taken away by the forensic people a bit ago.


Then she turns right into a car park and that is where she -- he stabs,


that is when she goes down. The words I heard him say it were


"Britain first" or "Put Britain first", but Britain first was what


he was saying, he said it at least twice. Jo Cox was certified dead at


1:48pm. Steven Lees has known the suspect Tommy Mair since childhood.


Sometimes in the shop I could see his hands were red raw and maybe his


face and his forehead was a bit red and his brother used to tell me when


he had been gardening or cooking or something like that, he would attack


his hands and his face and his head with a nail brush, to clean himself.


So much that he hurt himself? He would rub the skin off. Where was


his politics, did he talk politics to you? He would never talk


politics. I never once thought he was into politics. He didn't seem


the type to be into politics. I never heard him express any opinions


about politics. So a loner, odd, peculiar, but not to the people who


knew him a killer. Over the coming days, we will learn more about the


killing of Jo Cox. Only one thing is absolutely clear tonight. Our


country has lost a brave and singular politician.


Well I am joined the now here in Birstall by one of Jo Cox's good


friends and colleagues, Angela Smith. I'm so sorry for your loss


tonight. Hard-working, popular, how would you describe her? Jo was just


a very warm, lively, engaging personality and everybody who met


her just became friends with her almost instantly. You know, it was


never hard to get to know Jo, never difficult. She always had plenty to


say. Some politicians now are criticised the coming straight into


politics, she had a huge career, policy director at Oxfam, work on


the White ribbon campaign and maternal deaths. Absolutely and her


personality actually made her very effective campaign and I have spoken


to many people today who actually would say that Jo was at the


forefront of the battle to get the 0.7% of GDP aunts aid spending. She


went out to dar four and helped this country build a consensus around


this, she fought for women's writes, for women refugees who were raped


and assaulted and all of her life, she has done that and that is what


makes today so tragic in many ways. We have lost Jo as a human being but


we have also lost a fantastic campaigner. Also, what I was saying


at the very beginning, reading about her, she was so determined to be


accessible. So people would walk into her surgery, she didn't want to


feel she was apart from the people she had grown up with. That is right


and I think most of us want to work that way. I do appointments in my


surgeries. We all want to be as open as possible and we are not going to


close the doors to our constituents. We all do the job the way we feel


most comfortable with. But do you feel that MPs, in recent years, are


more vulnerable and people feel they can have a go at them, have an issue


with them? You get a lot of that online, you get a lot of e-mails and


stuff on social media in that vein, but actually when you meet most


people face-to-face, they are absolutely fine and one thing I am


sure about, I am not going to have my professional life or my personal


life circumscribed by events like this. And nor would she have wanted


that. In a moving tribute, her husband wrote about the love she


would want to be shown to her children, but he also said she would


want us to unite against the hatred that killed her, eight does not have


creed, race or religion -- hate. Indeed. Someone may have killed Jo


Cox today but they haven't killed what she stands for, it is


impossible, because we will absolutely carry on working and


fighting for what Jo Cox stood for. She stood for human rights,


equality, international justice. Nobody can kill that. Do you think


that, had she lived, she would have been possible prime ministerial


material? Jo would have achieved great things and hip she was here


today, she would say, "Me, Prime Minister? Come on!" She was the type


of person who just wanted to get on with everybody and achieve what she


believed in and fight for the principles he believed in. What


impact you think this will have on politics immediately? I think it has


changed politics forever. There is talk of a recall of Parliament and I


would welcome that. I recall soon. Yes, and I would welcome that


because I would like to pay tribute to Jo and for her colleagues to


reconvene and use Parliamentary democracy to demonstrate that


democracy will not be beaten by this. We will continue to represent


our constituents in Parliament and that is the best tribute possible


that we could pay to Jo. Angela Smith, thank you very much.


You can't read too much into a ghastly attack like this,


at least not on the information we have at the moment.


Mental health could be the primary issue, or malign political purpose.


Sometimes, frankly, there's a blurred line between the two.


But do we owe our MPs more security for the risks they take, and more


The anger and unpleasantness that characterises some of the discourse


But does it stoke up unhealthy feelings of hate that can spin out


Our political editor Nick Watt is with me.


Let's start with, you spoke to some other friends of Jo Cox this


afternoon, proof that emotions are running high. I spoke to four of her


closest parliamentary friends, people who have known her for 20


years and worked with her. In a very moving joint interview they paid


tribute to her as a great human rights campaigner but also somebody


who exuded humanity and great human warmth. To be honest I think what


stood out for me was Jo's amazing energy, she always had a smile, a


new idea. We would call her the Energizer Bunny, she wanted to fight


and do things and make things happen, she wouldn't take no for an


answer and that defined her. She was working hard every day. She was


tireless in the things she cared about. She was also such good fun to


be around. She was an amazing MP but we've lost a really good friend


today and I can't believe she's gone. I can't imagine what Brendan


and the family are going through now. Walking through and her not


being on the benches. It doesn't seem real. How good, somebody who


was full of demanding energy, full of life, who frankly set an example


for us all, how can that person be gone? It would be so common to see


Jo arriving in the nick of time for a vote because she had been cycling


like a maniac, in her cycling gear, she would always be there for her


kids, always taking them in, getting the evening meal. I can't imagine


what the family are going through. It is such a massive loss. And it is


what she would have done next, she had only been here for a year and


she had done so much, especially refugees and money for Syria. A


conviction politician as well as being a fully paid-up member of the


human race, representing the best of what politics should be about and


what humanity is about. It isn't just us who have lost someone, it is


those who are most vulnerable in the world who have lost their most woman


double champion. That's what we've lost. We need to realise what we've


lost, one of the gutsiest and most principled, intelligent, brilliant


women I've ever had the honour in my life to know. All we care tonight is


how on earth we carry on without Jo by our side because she kept us


going. Jo was brave, she endured, a lot of us get difficult times on


social media, but she stood up because she was doing what she


believed in and that was testament to her, the difference she was


prepared to make. We talked about it on Tuesday night, as Brendan, her


husband said in his statement, no regrets about anything she has done


in her life. She woke up every day thinking about how she can change


the world and she got stuck into it. That is the example we have to


follow and it's that spirit we have to take and run with. There are


people who are safe in the world because of Jo and that is what she


stood for. She lived that every day and we have to keep fighting for


what she believed in. Politicians as human beings. Nick, security, in the


house, out in their constituencies, it has to be an issue now? Important


to render that in the last 15 years, two MPs have been subject knife tax,


Nigel Jones and Stephen Timms. -- knife attack. But in recent years,


concerns have been raised by MPs in the light of these Syria vote and


the attacks on them in MPs online and concerns are being expressed.


One of the parliamentary democracy, the direct contact between MPs and


constituents leave them very vulnerable. The parliamentary


authorities have agreed to pay in recent months for security at MPs'


homes and offices in their constituencies but there are real


concerns that while Parliament is a fortress, the authorities there are


not taking the potential threat in constituencies enough and there are


concerns that perhaps the message isn't getting down to local police


forces, who think that MPs are predicted in Parliament, not seeing


that those MPs are still vulnerable once they are in their


constituencies. What about the big political issue, the tone of our


politics, the vitriol, the demonisation of them? The license


people feel, really, to be very nasty about MPs in their language


and on social media. Has this crystallised thoughts? Important to


say that we don't yet know the motive for the murder but clearly


what is happening now is that British politics is taking a step


back. There is a pause for breath and one thing people are looking at


is the very aggressive tone on social media. I was talking to a


very senior Labour MP, a lady MP who said that MPs are very open,


advertising their movements on social media, and she said that she


feared that the aggressive personalised tone on social media


really is having a very negative effect on policy and individual


safety. Well, on that point about vitriol


in politics and social media, it has become an issue today,


even without us knowing exactly Let's just play a clip from Labour


MP for Bermondsey, Neil Coyle. from the news about Jo Cox,


but he drew a line from hate-filled social media, through to rhetoric


about migrants and what he sees as the demonising of foreigners,


right through to components of the Leave campaign


in the referendum. He's not the only one


to have done that today. I think that the kind of nonsense


they inspire online from anonymous accounts and actually the core


content of the posts accounts and actually the core


content of the poster that they launched today,


look at what they are putting out. I think they are a very dangerous...


They risk inspiring extremist elements on the hard right in this


country. Labour parliamentary


candidate in 2015 Anne McElvoy, senior


editor at The Economist, and Jonathan Freedland,


columnist at The Guardian. Thank you for joining us. Is a very


sad day. Let's start with the most pointed of all the criticisms, that


somehow it is elements of the political campaigns we are seeing at


the moment which have been most vicious and spreading viciousness.


Jonathan, do you agree that there is a read-through from that into


political violence? It predates what's going on now, the Brexit


debate, it is the political culture. We don't know what is in the mind of


this individual but the idea that the debate has got more course has


been undeniable. Expenses was a watershed moment where suddenly it


was casual and routine to depict MPs as venal and grubby and entirely


self interested and that has congee into an accepted received wisdom,


all the same as each other, you can't trust them, all liars -- has


congee. If you have that poison injected into the bloodstream


eventually you will have consequences. -- congealed. In the


Guardian tomorrow, Polly Toynbee has written an article, very much on the


same lines, that they there is possibility, not for the attack, but


for the mood, for the inflammatory language, overt racism, a noxious


brew with a dangerous anti-MP stereotype. Do you believe that? I


haven't read the column, so I don't want to comment in any detail. It


depends who the they is. Step back and look at the tone of our


politics, but I think it is a bit tendentious, that leap into the


permissive environment where everything you don't like then


becomes in some way the slippery slope to this most terrible murder.


Even if we get to know a bit more about the man and his political


affiliations, by an unlikely to be wholesome and that has gone over


many years, many decades and different democracies have had to


confront it on the far left and the far right. Anything that goes


outside the democratic norm and feeds violence is wrong. I feel we


should stand up for that as the democratic principle. One


interesting counterfactual, I covered Germany and east German


unification, in 1990, a man who is now the very eminent Finance


minister was attacked, brutally attacked, he has been in a


wheelchair ever since. That was in the mood of 1990, very het up,


reunification. The political discourse in Germany was by our


standards very gentle, almost herbivorous. It came out of the time


but what is the link we are drawing? I wonder if we are trying to draw


too much, trying to imbue this with too much meaning. It could be an


isolated man with severe mental health problems. It's nothing to do


with politics, with the Brexit debate, I wonder if that's the way


to look at it? It might be but we have suspended campaigning and we


have an opportunity to decide, once we start campaigning again, whether


we will continue in the same way because let's be honest, there are


patriots on both sides of the debate. We need to have a more


respectful kind of debate. I was on the bridge, Westminster Bridge being


the rather unedifying flotilla fight in the river. Yes, it makes for some


fun, for some entertaining sketches, but with those kind of


gesticulations between two millionaires, let's be honest, I


waved at Jo and Brendan and their children in their rib from the


bridge while I saw people shouting traitor at each other. That kind of


language is the only bad for politicians but it is bad for each


other and the national conversation. We need to be better than that. A


lot of people saying that this is spirited politics and the more you


give voice to people's anger and emotion and passion, the less likely


you are to have hideous outbursts. You can do that, you can have


spirited politics without resulting Dyer resorting to the language of


toxicity. -- without resorting. MPs on social media have been on the end


of death threats and rape threats, you can think of that as sealed off


in the online world, but sometimes there are real-world consequences.


You are right to want to separate the day, which we don't moan about,


we can only mourn about it -- which we don't know about. We should think


about it. The interesting example from Germany, the thing about


demonising a category of people involved in politics. I covered the


aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing in America in 1995, there


was a building of federal bureaucrats and 167 of them were


killed. The lead up to that, the phrase federal bureaucrats became


almost an insult. Talk radio work demonising them as if they were the


source of America's problems. After Oklahoma City, people pulled back


and thought, maybe we shouldn't talk about these people like that any


more. Maybe we should think about how we talk about politics and


public servants. In a rambunctious political culture where we allow


liberalism, that is very much at stake here, we will never agree.


Even you and I, we are closer than some of the people watching, to the


left and to the right of us, there will be things where they will say


that we have crossed the line and we have to stand up in a democracy for


the right to offend as well as be offended. That's fine, but the


reality is that politics and democracy is supposed to be an alter


native to violence. What I'm worried about is starting to see a language


in the national conversation which facilitates and allows violence to


be legitimised. That's a problem. Whether it is the specifics of


today. Overall, politicians and many other people who are doing good work


like Jo did, she did it in refugee camps, people at food banks can find


themselves in the face of histolytica because of the way that


decisions are being made. That's not good enough. -- in the face of


hostility. Can we talk about the security of MPs? Is it possible to


have accessible MPs who are meeting their constituents, as available as


Jo Cox was, and give them some help and security? I think it's going to


be a very difficult trade-off. That sounds like a tough thing to say


after such a promising young woman has been struck down but one of the


things, having been to different countries and covering different


politics, I would stand up for that slightly... Go to the


constituencies, however grand they are in Westminster, the person has


to use in a slightly grubby room and meet you manatee with a lot of


problems, they don't always come in in the most polite form -- meet


humanity. It comes with a risk but I think it is important. Of course,


Nick what was important, talk to police forces and make sure that


there are sensible caveats in place but the good thing is that this is


not Russia or China, you can talk to your MP, if you are crossed, you can


tell them so. I think that's right, the legacy should be that Jo


achieved so much as a campaigner before she was elected. The thing we


must remember is that she achieved things and we want to make sure that


people like Jo can become politicians again and what I'm


worried about is that if we have this national conversation, becoming


so toxic, people like Jo will not stand as MPs in the future. Thank


you for joining us. Every year around the world,


15 million girls are forced to marry Bangladesh has one of the highest


rates of child marriage where over half of girls marry


before reaching adulthood. These girls often face sexual


violence, dangerous childbirth The government in Bangladesh


has pledged that within it'll eliminate the child marriage


of girls under 15 years old. Farhana Haider has been


to the capital Dhaka to meet girls on the outskirts of Bangladesh's


capital city Dhaka said this slum, where girls have to grow up fast.


TRANSLATION: Millions of girls here in Bangladesh


face a similar story. In fact, One in Five girls are married by the


time they reach their 15th birthday. All too often, they come from the


poorest areas, where girls are seen as a burden.


It is a patriarchal society, where a girl's reputation is everything.


Unmarried young women face harassment simply walking down the


street. So millions of girls are forced to marry before the legal age


of 18 to preserve family honour. In the slum, 40,000 people are


crammed onto a tiny plot of land. It is a city within a city, a


self-governing community where marriage is determined not by law


but by circumstances. In this maze of alleyways are one room tin


shacks, where entire families live. Births, deaths and marriages happen


here. For teenage girls living in this slum, life is tough. In the


heart of the slum leaves 13-year-old Molika, with her mother.


Molika is due to get married at the end of the week.


It is a false sense of security. Once married, the problems faced by


the girls often get worse. 16-year-old Sharmin was death by her


husband last year when she was four months pregnant with her baby.


Buried deep under the bed, Sharmin keeps her wedding clothes.


These girls are married off because their families can't afford to keep


them. Yet the reality is that once they are married, husbands start


demanding dowries they simply can't afford. So they are abandoned.


15-year-old Regina was married last year to a man 12 years older than


her. The Bangladesh Government estimates


that 87% of married women here face some form of physical or mental


abuse. Regina's husband left her a few months into the marriage, so her


father turned to the police for help.


He says he had to pay the police ?60, which is more than his monthly


income. Money and marriage go hand-in-hand


here. 17-year-old Ustma was married two years ago.


Ustma's husband left her after five months of marriage. But, like


thousands of other girls here in the slum, work in garment factories is


offering Jo at offering them independence. -- offering them


independence. The forced marriage of young girls


around the world will continue unless attitudes towards young women


change and they are allowed to fulfil their potential.


Let's take a quick look at the newspapers. The Times, they are all


obviously leading on Jo Cox, the murdered MP had faced a string of


security threats. Police were reviewing her protection, they say.


The Guardian, she believed in a better world, she fought for it


every day, the arrested man shouted "Britain first" according to


witnesses. The Sun takes the personal angle, husband's moving


tribute with a picture of the suspect on the front. The Daily


Mail, devoted mother of two, dedicated public servant, a


remarkable woman, what a tragic waste. And the Financial Times also


leading on it, the killing of Jo Cox brings abrupt halt to a referendum


-- the referendum campaign, which is suspended until Saturday. I love


that a couple of the continental papers, French and German, and on


their websites, they were leading on that story -- I looked at. Tonight,


democracy was continuing and today was the tooting by-election and


after the vote, the memorial to Jo Cox, they held a two minute silence


in her memory. We leave you tonight with a section of that.


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