Scotland politics

Scottish politicians call election 'truce' for murdered MP Jo Cox

Jo Cox 'truce' Image copyright Scottish Labour
Image caption Members of all the main political parties shared lunch during the hour-long break from campaigning

Scotland's political leaders have called a general election "truce" to mark the death of MP Jo Cox.

Campaigning ceased for an hour from 12:00 as all the major political parties gathered "in a show of solidarity" in Edinburgh.

Mrs Cox, 41, was killed by Thomas Mair in her Batley and Spen constituency in Yorkshire on 16 June last year.

Her husband Brendan has said she would be "incredibly touched" by the UK-wide response to the upcoming anniversary.

Mr Cox said the co-ordinated suspension of campaigning would send a message that "whatever our political disagreements, we really do hold more in common and show a united front against hatred and extremism in all its forms".

He added: "Elections are huge moments of national importance and deserve to be taken seriously. But we also need to get a better balance.

"We spend way too much time fixated on the areas we disagree with each other and need to create more moments where we come together as a country.

"That's what I'm focused on and after polling day, I am sure that's exactly what people all over the UK will be crying out for."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Mrs Cox was murdered by Kilmarnock-born Thomas Mair in her constituency last year

He told the BBC's Andrew Marr programme that the trauma of his wife's death was "for us, as a family... something that goes on and on.

"Individual days can be worse - and better. It's not just the big moments.

"The kids are incredibly excited about the Great Get Together, they love planning a party. They know that their mum would have loved it."

Mr Cox travelled to Edinburgh last Wednesday to meet First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, as well as representatives of all the main parties at the Scottish Parliament and presiding officer Ken Macintosh.

They will also take part in the Great Get Together community event between 16 and 18 June which Mr Cox has organised to mark the anniversary of the Labour MP's death.

'Zest for life'

Mr Cox said he planned the event because Mrs Cox would "love the idea that the reaction to the attempt that her murder was to divide communities has actually brought communities together".

The nationwide event will include street parties, barbecues, picnics, coffee mornings and tea parties.

More than 100 organisations, including the Scottish rugby team and Cricket Scotland have also backed the event.

Mr Cox said: "The idea came from thinking about the anniversary of Jo's murder and, from my point of view, wanting to remember her as how she lived, someone who was full of energy, enthusiasm, a zest for life."

He added: "Jo would be incredibly touched by the scale of the response. I think she would be astounded by the level of the reaction."

Mother-of-two Mrs Cox was shot and stabbed by Kilmarnock-born Thomas Mair.

He was later handed a whole-life prison sentence for her murder.

The idea for the anniversary event came before the general election for 8 June was announced, but Mr Cox said it would provide a reminder after the vote that "there is more which binds people together than keeps them apart".

'Bigger truth'

"The reason that Jo went into politics was much less about party politics and much more about her connection to her local community, the constituents of Batley and Spen where she grew up and spent her formative years," he said.

"There is a divisiveness and a tone of politics at the moment which I think most people don't feel represents them. I think people want a sense of togetherness, a sense of community."

He added: "Of course the election will be divisive but that doesn't mean we have to lose sight of the bigger truth that actually, as my wife talked about in her maiden speech, there is more that unites us, we do have more in common than the things that divide us."

The Scottish Parliament will host its get-together on 16 June, with people from Holyrood's local community invited to meet with MSPs.

Presiding officer Ken Macintosh said: "It was a genuine pleasure to welcome Brendan to the Scottish Parliament and wonderful that, even during this busy election period, representatives from all the political parties made time for a 'mini get-together' to discuss what we can all do to support the events next month.

"Jo Cox was someone who wanted to make a difference yet was taken from us in the prime of her life. This is such a positive and inspiring way to remember her."