Gerry Hassan

Anyone trawling the 200+ posts on this blog will see that I occasionally stray from the strictly political to something that’s more visceral.

This is one of those posts.

Yesterday on Twitter, I had the following exchange:

gerry hassan exchange

After Mr Hassan’s second tweet I could only bring myself to comment ‘I’m clueless? This is despicable. I can’t even begin to explain in a tweet.’

In the bear pit that is Twitter, others piled in, all to support my distaste at Hassan’s last comment and question.

I said I couldn’t begin to explain my feelings in a tweet. This is my attempt to do so now.

As I start I find myself unable to repeat the words Hassan used but he clearly implied that the murder of an MP was part of or related to a political campaign. The trial of the alleged murderer is yet to take place and he must be presumed innocent until proven guilty. But insofar as we know anything yet the crime seems to have been the act of one individual, maybe disturbed, maybe with some loose link to an extremist group, maybe not.

I fail to see how that act can be seen, in no matter how perverted a way, as part of a campaign in a referendum.

It is a moral failure on my part, but I was not as deeply affected in the immediate aftermath of Ms Cox’s murder as I should have been. I’m old enough to have become wearied by what seems like a never-ending cycle of unjustified atrocities in the name of all sorts of causes and none.

Coincidentally, I was in London last week while the Westminster village was in a state of high agitation about the aftermath of the EU referendum and the leadership turmoil of our two main political parties.

I thought it might be interesting to see if there was any visible sign of the heightened tension around Parliament. At first I could see only the remnants of what looked like a demonstration in Parliament Square but turned out to a Lithuanian group, some in national costume, celebrating their nation’s Statehood Day. Round the corner there was an unusual number of TV journalists doing pieces to camera. I crossed the road to Victoria Tower Gardens to discover a statue of Emmeline Pankhurst I hadn’t known was there:

emmeline pankhurst statue

At its base, and maybe you can just see it, someone has placed a photo of the murdered MP Jo Cox. It was a simple and touching gesture that I felt able to photograph.

Back on Parliament Square there was a much messier and more spontaneous memorial to her – hundreds of handwritten messages, photos, flowers, candles and more on and around temporary boards that will surely be removed soon. This sort of outpouring can seem mawkish but many of the messages were heartfelt and I had to turn away unable to read, let alone photograph, them.

If you would indulge me, you may wish now to check my reaction to the defacing of a memorial to women in World War II that is only a short walk from Parliament Square. That was as visceral as my reaction to Gerry Hassan’s invoking of the murder of Jo Cox to compare two referendum campaigns, best summed up in my words in that earlier post – ‘Idiots will be idiots.’

I hope you realise that the main thrust of this post, longer than I had originally intended, is not about the politics of any referendum but about some words I found very distasteful.

Hassan, of course, did find politics in all this, in fact that is what his comments were all about. The EU referendum was much worse, he concluded, than the Scottish referendum, which was merely a matter of

One egg & some disgraceful comments.

I beg to differ and offer you a reminder of how the 2014 referendum was a lot more abusive than one egg and some disgraceful comments. That’s all the politics I’ll offer in this post.

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