Yesterday, the killer of Labour MP Jo Cox was jailed for life. Thomas Mair, a white supremacist and far right extremist, had links with a U.S. neo-Nazi group and explicitly stated his motive as being a political one when he was first arrested.
Mair was sentenced after a seven-day trial at the Old Bailey. He pleaded not guilty but made no effort to defend himself.
When attacking Cox at the height of the EU Referendum campaign on June 16th Mair said: ‘This is for Britain’, ‘Keep Britain independent’ and ‘Britain first’.
After the crime investigating police officers found that Mair was obsessed with the Nazis, white supremacy and apartheid-era South Africa. He was given a psychiatric assessment and found to have no mental health conditions which would suggest that he was anything other than responsible for his actions.
When the verdict was announced yesterday there were calls for the media to discuss Mair and his crime in terms of extremism and not to shy away from it:
The judge, Mr Justice Wilkie, said that Mair would serve a whole-life sentence (this is the toughest punishment you can receive in an English court so it’s notable).
Mr Justice Wilkie also denied Mair permission to address the court, as is commonplace after a verdict is delivered, because of the ‘exceptional seriousness’ of his offence.
It was clear shortly after it happened, but yesterday’s verdict confirmed that the assassination of Jo Cox was a politically motivated act. Wilkie told Mair:
‘It is evident from your internet searches that your inspiration is not love of country or your fellow citizens, it is an admiration for Nazis and similar anti-democratic white supremacist creeds…’
He continued, ‘Our parents’ generation made huge sacrifices to defeat those ideas and values in the second world war. What you did … betrays those sacrifices.’
Brendan Cox, Jo’s widow, has said that he does not want Jo to be remembered for how she died but, rather, who she was and how she lived.
It’s fitting to end this article with a quote from her maiden speech in Parliament:
‘While we celebrate our diversity’ she said, ‘what surprises me time and time again as I travel around the constituency is that we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than the things that divide us.’
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This article originally appeared on The Debrief.