The sister of murdered MP Jo Cox has said politicians and comedians should be careful of the language they use after Jo Brand joked about throwing battery acid at “unpleasant characters”.
Mrs Cox was killed three years ago today after conducting a weekly surgery in her constituency of Batley.
Earlier this week, Brand was criticised for suggesting the recent trend of throwing milkshakes at politicians was “pathetic” when people could “buy battery acid”.
Kim Leadbeater told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday that people should be careful about the language they use.
She said: “It’s hard for me to be wholly objective on that subject because of what we have been through but I don’t think there is a place in politics, or sometimes comedy, for violent language.
“No one wants to stop comedians or politicians doing their jobs but if you have a public role, we have to take responsibility for the language we use and things we say.
“The way politics is at the moment, there isn’t a shortage of material for comedians so I don’t think using such violent rhetoric is helpful.
“But who sets the moral compass for the nation? Who decides what is funny? But I think anyone who has been affected by an acid attack wouldn’t find that funny.”
Ms Leadbeater was speaking as she and her family mark three years since her sister’s death. The family and supporters will today attend a rugby league match in Mrs Cox’s memory at the Batley Bulldogs ground.
“We need to start listening to each other and try to understand each other’s positions and perspectives” – Jo Cox’s sister, Kim Leadbeater, says we need to come together as a country.
Today marks three years since Jo Cox was murdered.
— Ridge on Sunday (@RidgeOnSunday) June 16, 2019
Talking about the changes in society since Mrs Cox’s death, Ms Leadbeater said: “Things felt pretty bad in June 2016 when Jo was killed but it’s fair to say they have got worse. There was a short period time when politicians said we had to do things differently, but I think since that time things have got progressively worse.
“Now is an opportunity, reflecting on the murder, to change that and move things forward. There’s nothing wrong with robust debate and passionate discussion and I’m proud to live in a country where we can do that but we need to treat each other with respect and civility and we have lost sight of that.”
She said there were several factors, but acknowledged that while the anonymity of social media can make it dangerous, it can also have the power to do good things.
Ms Leadbeater also said Brexit had changed the political landscape but mobilised people who had not been engaged with politics before.
She said: “I make no judgement on how you vote but what I am interested in is why and how do we come together to reunite the country in the middle of all this division?”
Ms Leadbeater reflected on the “fantastic memories of Jo” from their childhood and as adults, and said she wanted to help create a powerful legacy for her which would focus on the things people have in common.
She said: “It’s easy to be negative, it’s easy to be angry – believe me, I’m angry about what’s happened to us but I am not giving into that anger or the negative emotions. I’m trying to do something positive which can bring people together.
“I’m not aligned to any party – think about the fortunate position you are in to make a difference to this country but try to do it in a positive way.
“It’s hard – I have days I could give in to the despair but I’m not going to do that but we have to stop shouting at each other and start listening to each other.
“That’s what I’m going to focus on – for Jo, her kids, anyone who has lost someone so terribly like us, in the terror attacks in Manchester, for Lee Rigby’s family, anybody, that doesn’t matter to me.”
Ms Leadbeater said last night that personal insults were in danger of being “normalised” and called for a “calmer, kinder politics”.
Since the murder of mother-of-two Mrs Cox there have been two nationwide Great Get Together days, with the third to be held in various locations across the country next weekend.