“Jo Cox died last week in the most awful of circumstances, but we must not let her death be in vain. We must redouble our efforts to build the better society she spent her life fighting for.”
That was the simple and straightforward message Nick Lowles of Hope not Hate brought to UNISON’s local government conference in Brighton this afternoon.
“I firmly believe most people are good and decent people, who, given the chance, will prefer hope to hate,” he declared.
Mr Lowles had replaced the scheduled guest speaker, shadow local government secretary Jon Trickett who was in London as Parliament was recalled to pay tribute to the murdered Batley and Spen MP – and UNISON member – Ms Cox, who was killed last Thursday.
“I am sorry to be here,” Mr Lowles told conference. “I am only here because something awful happened last week. I wish I wasn’t here; I wish Jo hadn’t been murdered.”
But, he said, ” Ms Cox had been murdered “by hate, and hate is becoming more prevalent in society.”
He told delegates that, for too long, authorities had refused to take the far right seriously – yet more than 50 far right activists had been convicted of terrorism offences in the past few years.
But even bigger than this, he said, was the toxic and xenophobic atmosphere being generated by politicians and newspapers, who are never held to account.
Hope not Hate was named as one of the beneficiaries of the memorial fund set up after Ms Cox’s killing.
“We are honoured by being named beneficiaries,” said Mr Lowles. “We will use that to work to heal rifts in society and help build shared identities around what people have in common.”