Cherish respect and tolerance

Every now and again something happens that is so shocking, so vile and unthinkable, that it stops you in your tracks.

Sunday, 26th June 2016, 1:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 5:17 pm
Peterborough Telegraph's Man behind the mic column by Paul Stainton, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire host - peterboroughtoday.co.uk

The brutal, cold blooded, killing of MP Jo Cox, on the streets of West Yorkshire, was one such event.

We have sadly grown used to appalling acts of terrorism and countless senseless murders and our tolerance to these atrocities increases with every new instance of barbarity.

As a journalist you become desensitised to the horror to a certain point, your professionalism is supposed to kick in and you are expected to remain detached.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

But sometimes even hardened hacks crack and allow their humanity and emotion to slip through; sometimes you see and hear things that training cannot prepare you for.

On 9/11 I was working in BBC Television Centre and witnessed raw TV footage of the twin towers coming down, footage that, for good reason, never made the Six O’ Clock News, images that are engrained on my brain forever.

The horrific killing of young soldier Lee Rigby on the streets of London, left me in a state of shock and will any of us, ever again, completely trust a man carrying a backpack on the London underground?

These outrageous events can change decent people and alter the way we look at others, our tolerance level for violence may grow but our compassion for our fellow man does not.

Jo Cox was a popular MP; “A five-foot bundle of Yorkshire grit.” She was also a fearless campaigner who dedicated her life to helping others, she was a wife and a friend, but above all else, she was a mum.

Two little children will have to grow up without theirs because of the deranged acts of one individual and that’s what hit me the hardest; she had probably kissed them goodbye that morning and promised them fish fingers for tea, just like any other day, but this was not like any other day.

There was to be no more kisses, no more bedtime stories and no more fish fingers for tea, instead their mum, a woman doing her best for the community she grew up in, a community she loved, was to be viciously and cruelly robbed of her life.

It is sometimes easy to forget, within the confines of political debate, that MPs are human beings too, with families and friends; they are just like the rest of us, even if some of their number try hard not to show it.

These days, social media allows some to attack, mock and in some cases, threaten our elected representatives, all from behind the relative anonymity of a computer screen – in fact Peterborough MP, Stewart Jackson has received more than his fair share of abuse.

Of course, the behaviour of MPs is not beyond reproach, particularly at Prime Minister’s Questions and the tone of the debate on the EU referendum has left a lot to be desired.

But there can be no excuse, no earthly reason for the senseless killing of Jo Cox. Her life and her passing can serve as a reminder that in these increasingly violent times, respect and tolerance are values that we should cherish.