A little over a year ago, I was asked if I’d be willing to allow our politics students to meet a prospective Labour MP within the school.
We’d previously hosted a prospective UKIP MEP. He had been seriously challenged in his views by a number of the students. The politics of the students within the group were ideologically divided, but they were united in their dislike of UKIP policies. If his aim had been to gain a few more votes, he had failed.
With two active campaigners for the Conservative party present, the opportunity to meet a Labour candidate would prove to be interesting.
She was introduced and first spoke about her career prior to politics, how that career came to formulate her political principles and inspire her new direction. She spoke about Labour policies and where she saw her role if she was elected.
She kept her introduction short – she was eager to listen to students’ questions and commentary. I noted how hard she did in fact listen, a contrast to the previous visitor. She enjoyed their banter and the challenges they posed. Unwavering in her beliefs, she remained unfazed when criticisms of Labour policies were presented. I had the feeling that not only was she going to win this campaign, but she was going to enjoy a strong future within her party and I wouldn’t be surprised if she was a cabinet member of the future. However, I also felt that she might be reluctant to follow the party whip if it would compromise her beliefs – not always good for career progression. She had a genuine passion for bringing about a better future for her community and wider global concerns. She cared. As a result she commanded respect in a way that the prior visitor could never hope to.
I met her again a few weeks later. She’d gained two places for students at a Labour party dinner hosted by a local business. They met two other Labour MPs and gained a small insight into the political process behind the scenes. She was charming, welcoming, and didn’t forget her promise to the students in spite of the social demands pressed upon her that evening.
Today, I feel the sadness and loss of our community.
That woman was Jo Cox.