I first met Jo in Darfur in 2006 where she was doing what she was brilliant at, which was looking after and saving the lives of vulnerable refugees. And here we are today commemorating her life that has been lost.
The most profound thing that has happened is that 2 children have lost their mother, a husband has lost a loving wife and, of course, Parliament has lost one of its most passionate and brilliant campaigners, someone who epitomised the fact that politics is about serving others.
Today our nation is rightly shocked and I think it is time to take a moment to stand back and think about some of the things that are so important about our country.
The fact that we should treasure and value our democracy, where members of Parliament are in the public, accountable to the public, available to the public. And that’s how Jo died, she died doing her job. I think the second thing is that we should recognise that politics is about public service. People who go into public life want to act in the national interest, they want to pursue the national interest, to do things for other people to make the country and make the world a better place. Politicians disagree with each other, we often disregard what politicians say and we disregard each other. But that is what it is about and that is what Jo showed it is all about.
But perhaps most important of all we should value and see as precious the democracy that we have on these islands, where 65 million of us live together and work together and get on together.
We do have peace, we do have stability, we do have a measure of economic wellbeing better than other countries obviously still to be spread far more widely. And it is all underpinned by tolerance.
So where we see hatred, where we find division, where we see intolerance we must drive it out of our politics, out of our public life and out of our communities.
And if we truly want to honour Jo, then what we should do is recognise that her values – service, community, tolerance – the values she lived by and worked by, those are the values that we need to redouble in our national life in the months and years to come.