Scotland politics

Division 'worse than ever', says murdered MP Jo Cox's sister

Joe Cox
Image caption MP Jo Cox was murdered by a right-wing extremist, days before the Brexit referendum in 2016.

The sister of murdered MP Jo Cox has said division in politics is "worse than ever".

Ms Cox was killed by a right-wing extremist, days before the Brexit referendum. Her murder was followed by calls for a "kinder" politics.

But Ms Cox's sister has said she believes the "horrendous" abuse and threats MPs face is "out of hand".

She was speaking ahead of a visit to Holyrood where she will meet MSPs and ask them to focus on what unites them.

Kim Leadbetter told BBC Radio Scotland that an initial period after Ms Cox's death where politicians focused on coming together was short-lived.

Shortlived change

Ms Leadbetter said: "I think it's safe to say things are pretty bad.

"There was a very short period of time after Jo was murdered where politicians said all the right things around coming together and doing politics in a different way and using Jo's words of 'more in common' to focus on the things we agree on rather than the things we disagree on.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Kim Leadbetter said an initial period after Ms Cox's death where politicians focused on coming together was short-lived.

"But unfortunately that didn't last long and I think now we're in a place where things are worse than ever in terms of division.

"And I understand that in terms of Brexit it's a hugely complex issue and people feel passionately on both sides of the argument and there's nothing wrong with strong, passionate, robust debate but I think sometimes we need to take a step back and remember Jo's words and think about the things we have in common and find a way that we can come together to make a positive difference."

Ms Leadbetter added that she has heard from MPs across the spectrum who had experienced "horrendous" abuse and violent threats that had become "out of hand".

Speaking ahead of a meeting with MSPs, she urged politicians, the public and journalists to think about the language that they use.

'More in common'

She is visiting Holyrood to promote the Great Get Together, organised on the weekend of Jo's birthday in June to "come together and forget about those differences"

The event is based on the message carried by Ms Cox's maiden speech in Parliament that "we have more in common than that which divides us".

Ms Leadbetter said she felt politicians had been "de-humanised" and that everyone had to behave in a responsible way.

She said: "Politicians, people in public life, have got a responsibility to hold themselves to account in terms of their own behaviour so I think again it's how they speak to each other we've seen some poor behaviour in that regard, I would say, in the last coupe of years.

"Then they have a responsibility to listen... in a civilised manner. The way the debate has gone has lacked respect at times, so I think politicians themselves have that responsibility."

She added: "Jo would have been the last person to want to silence the debate... but it's just about doing that in a civilised manner.

"We have to find a way forward - we're only going to do that by listening to each other and trying to find some common ground."

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