as a miner dies in relative obscurity
by Les May
EARLY last Friday morning, a miner called John Anderson was killed in an East Cleveland potash mine. His death was relegated to page 13 of the 'i' newspaper and merited just a quarter of a page of newsprint. Last Thursday an MP called Joanne Cox was killed in the street. So far the same newspaper has devoted eleven pages to her death which today included the fact that £800,000 has been donated to a charitable fund set up by her friends.
For the families of both of these people their deaths are an ongoing tragedy. But that is all that they have in common. Mr Anderson's death has been reported to HM Mines Inspectorate and no doubt there will be an inquest. That may merit a few lines in the national press or it may not. Local Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, has spoken of his concerns following the death and intends to meet the mine owners ICL Ltd and the mine unions. There is no reason to suppose that Mr Anderson's death was anything other than a tragic accident. But history suggests that if that presumption were to prove to be wrong no one would appear in the dock charged with causing his death. A man has already been charged with the murder of Joanne Cox.
There's a bandwagon rolling and lazy journalists are determined to scramble aboard before its too late. A particularly inept sub-editor at the 'i' managed to confuse Joseph Priestley who in 1733 was born in Birstall where the murder happened, with author J. B. Priestley who was born in Bradford in 1894. A day before in the same paper Joan Smith in an otherwise sensible article decided there was a bit of mileage in referring to 'an apparent normalisation of the most grotesque misogyny' and Andrew Grice took yet another opportunity to have a go at Jeremy Corbyn just as he did the day after. It seems no one can resist the temptation to use this tragedy to further their own agenda.
But it's not just the media which have tried to use the killing to their advantage. The organisation 'Unite Against Fascism' which sees a climate of 'racist discussion' on immigration having been 'stirred up' during the EU referendum campaigning. Whilst the Tories, Lib Dems and UKIP all announced they would not contest the seat at the forthcoming by-election the Liberty GB prospective candidate, a former BNP member, announced his intention to stand by saying 'We cannot let Jo Cox's death be in vain'. The North-east branch of 'National Action' took the opportunity to post on Twitter, '#JoCox would have filled Yorkshire with more subhumans'. I usually think that invoking the word Nazi means you know you are losing the argument, but for this comment it seems entirely appropriate.Eager not to be labelled as 'Stirrer up in Chief' Nigel Farage turned psychiatrist saying the killing was the act of 'one man with serious mental health issues'. This line will no doubt play well with those papers which have done so much to use immigration to stoke up resentment against the EU, 'It wasn't me gov it was him'.
Even the usually excellent Al Jazeera news channel managed to use it as an excuse to ask why the killing had not been labelled 'terrorism' when this epithet is so frequently attached to incidents involving Muslims.Whatever this killing was it was not terrorism. The whole idea of 'terrorism' is to terrorise the population at large by causing panic and uncertainty about whether you are going to be the next casualty. Like the killing of Lee Rigby in 2013 Joanne Cox's killing was a carefully targeted attack. Terrorists see the whole population of a country as a legitimate target. The IRA Manchester bomb of 1996, the Twin Towers attack of 2001, the London Bombings of 2005, can all be accurately described as 'terrorism'. By the same token the targeted killing of secular bloggers and academics in Bangladesh isn't terrorism either.
I find it distasteful that after her untimely death Joanne Cox is being given the 'Sleb' treatment by some sections of the media. It's an old trick. Lavish praise on what someone has done. Associate yourself with similar views, which are of course the views of all 'right thinking people', and hey presto, a nice bit of self praise emerges.
Whatever Joanne Cox's qualities personally I'd like to see fewer MPs with a background of university, working for a charitable organisation, then the House of Commons, and more from John Anderson's background.
Whatever I think of Simon Danczuk's antics as an author and MP, he is surely right to draw attention to the fact that so many of his colleagues really do form a 'metropolitan elite'. He could have added that they inhabit the same 'Westminster Village' as the journalists who write about them.