Scottish political leaders back campaign in memory of Jo Cox

Scotland’s political party leaders have joined together to support a campaign in memory of Jo Cox.

The Labour MP was murdered in her Batley and Spen constituency ahead of the EU referendum in 2016 by Thomas Mair, who was sentenced to life imprisonment.

In 2017, Mrs Cox’s sister Kim Leadbeater launched the Great Get Together campaign with the aim of bringing communities together through events held across the UK.

Kim Leadbeater at the Scottish Parliament
Kim Leadbeater thanked the leaders of Scotland’s political parties for putting their differences to one side (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Events this year will take place between June 21 and June 23 – the weekend of what would have been Ms Cox’s 45th birthday.

On a visit to the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, Ms Leadbeater thanked the leaders of Scotland’s parties for putting their disagreements aside to back stronger communities in memory of her sister.

Ms Leadbeater said: “We are going through turbulent times politically and there’s a lot of attention at the moment on the things that divide opinion but for me that’s no reason not to try to do something positive that can help bring communities together.

“That’s the message I get from everyone I talk to across the country, including here in Scotland.

“So this year our message is simply ‘let’s get back together’.

“The Great Get Together weekend will be the opportunity to show that we won’t allow our communities to be divided and that the values Jo lived by are still the ones that represent our country at its best.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “The very fact that so many people want to get involved in the Great Get Together is testament to the regard in which Jo Cox was held and the determination to tackle the hatred that can drive people and communities apart.

“We all need to be vigilant and be prepared to challenge prejudice whenever and wherever it raises its ugly head – we owe that to Jo, her family, her friends and her supporters.”

Scottish Labour MSP Anas Sarwar, who hosted the launch at Holyrood, said: “The annual Great Get Together events are aimed at bringing together communities which may not otherwise be connected.

“In memory of Jo, they provide a platform for people to focus not on the things that divide us, but the things we have in common.

“This is more vital than ever amid rising prejudice and division, and the worrying rise of targeted attacks on faith centres across the world.

“In Scotland we have an opportunity to bring communities together, but we must work for it. It is a fight for all of us.”

Catherine Anderson, chief executive of the Jo Cox Foundation, urged those in public life to work towards healing divisions rather, than making them worse.

She said: “Politics is all about strongly held views and rigorous debate, and Jo never shied away from that.

“But it can and must be done in a way that shows respect for those we may disagree with and without seeking to widen divisions in society.

“Inflammatory language, threats and intimidation have no place in our public discourse.”

She added: “They represent the kind of politics Jo detested and everybody in public life has a responsibility to help take the poison out of our political culture.

“That includes MPs, candidates and the media.

“And we can all play our part in showing that our communities remain strong and welcoming by coming together to reject intolerance and division.

“Which is why I believe the Great Together is more important today than it has ever been.”

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