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The Killing of Jo Cox, MP

  On Thursday night, Jo Cox, Labour MP of Britain was shot dead shortly after holding a routine meeting in her constituency in west Yorkshire. What might cause great astonishment in India is that this Cambridge University graduate took her duty as MP so seriously as to have regular meetings twice a week with her constituents in order to be aware at all times about their needs and aspirations. What seems bizarre for an advanced democracy like Britain is that an MP who had been a vocal advocate for Britain remaining in the European Union (EU) should have been gunned down just a week before the referendum on the issue of Britain remaining with the EU or leaving it. In response to her death, the “Remain” and “Leave” campaigns have suspended their normal activities for the EU referendum next week on June 23.

It is a trifle ironical that some of the best democracies in the world should be those that are listed as ‘constitutiol morchies’. We have among them countries like Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands and Britain. These are countries that have had parliaments and a strong support of the rule-of-law principle for centuries. These are countries where democracy has worked better than in other more populous democratic countries. These are countries that have reposed faith in referendums rather than on arbitrary assumptions of public opinion on any important issue. For quite some time now, people in Britain have been divided about whether they should remain with the European Union or break away from it. Despite being part of the EU, Britain has retained her own currency. There was a time when the sections of British society wishing to remain with the European Union and those wishing to leave it were somewhat more equally divided. On Thursday morning, the people wishing to remain with the EU were around 60 per cent of the population. Later in the day, this percentage of the “Remain” vote rose to 65 per cent. But could that have been reason enough for someone from the “Leave” camp to gun down an educated and dedicated MP in cold blood. That is not the kind of expectation that one has of a civilized democracy like Britain. But perhaps it is time to revise our expectations of what is civilized and what is not.

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Ankur Kalita