Jo Cox More in Common Book

The latest book I have read is More in Common by Brendon Cox. The book details Jo Cox’s life. Jo Cox was the Batley and Spen MP who was murdered in 2016 by Thomas Mair who shouted Britain First. Thomas was linked to neo-nazi groups.

The chapters alternate from the time leading up to Jo’s death and the aftermath to Jo’s years growing up. You learn very quickly that Jo was very determined, very ambitious however very down to earth. She was a proud Yorkshire woman and loved where she grew up. Cambridge followed and then Jo started her career working as Neil Kinnock’s advisor and then worked at Oxfam and then also worked as an advisor to Sarah Brown, who was spearheading a campaign to prevent deaths in pregnancy and childbirth. It was clear that Jo loved being outdoors and had aimed to climb all of the munros in Scotland with her husband and spending time walking and renovating their cottage and their travels on their canal boat.

Understandably as Cox was an MP this features heavily in the book. It charts the time she decided she wanted to be an MP (before she moved to work in New York) she signed up to a Labour party session for women who were interested in making the jump to being an MP with a friend. When the position of Batley and Spen came up she was originally selected from an all woman shortlist. Jo spent hours knocking on doors and visiting residents and local businesses in the constituency to secure her vote and she won with 43.2%.

Jo criticised the vote against military action in Syria and wrote an open letter along with Neil Coyle about why they regretted nominating Jeremy Corbyn. the national chair of the Labour Women’s Network and a senior adviser to the Freedom Fund, an anti slavery charity. After a member of her consistency wrote to her and told her about how a member of her family died and that although she visited her as often as she could this member really suffered with loneliness. Jo did some digging and found it is a larger issue then she first realised. Jo had started to set up meetings with Age Concern and the Royal Voluntary Service.

Image of the book More in Common by Jo Cox on a feather background

From the book you can see that Jo was very principled and this started out from when she started at Cambridge and she felt out of her depth amongst those that went to private school. She was determined that no one missed out on opportunities due to where they came from.

Balancing motherhood with working was a common theme which I felt was worth mentioning. It is so clear Jo loved her children (the fact that her children were so young when she died really hit home to me) and she would even vote in her cycling gear so she could get home and put her children to bed and really hated the fact that the voting in the House of Commons happens so late.

The book gives a very comprehensive account of Jo’s life and the effect that Jo’s death has had on Brendon and his family. It is a real privilege to understand and have that much access about her life. I really do recommend this book.

Have you read this book? If so what did you think?

The Polling Station didn’t get my heart racing
like it did to other people.
(Image Source: BBC)
Las week we have found that David Cameron is the next Prime Minister and I am glad the election process is over.  Being part of BBC Generation 2015 has been fantastic and I have been grateful of the opportunities it has given me but all the election hype was getting way too much. In this post, I write about what the elections have meant to me and what I thought about the process. 
The Election Hype
As I am a second-time voter I definitely didn’t have that feeling of excitement that I know others experienced voting this time round. I wasn’t giddy with happiness or taking selfies outside the polling station.  I didn’t even watch the results ( I wished I had but with two interviews- one at midnight and one at half eight in the morning and a full day of work, I was going to be knackered). However, I was definitely more informed.  I watched the TV debates, read the flyers that went through my door and asked other people their opinions ( I did none of that last time).  As a result of this I felt more engaged and in control. Near the end of campaigning before voting, the TV debates were draining to watch and I personally didn’t know what to believe.  I said in an interview with BBC Radio Stoke on election night that Nick Clegg I felt did a lot of damage in the 2010 Election regarding trust amongst the younger voters due to the rise of tuition fees. I appreciate he was in a coalition but he would have never have been in this position without the student vote.  
After the results, I was (and still am) a bit annoyed in a way that the First Past the Vote system has become such an issue. Yes, it isn’t representative of the population. However everyone knew that was the voting system going to be used. In 2010, the Alternative Vote system proposed by Clegg was rejected by voters and there wasn’t this much commotion about the voting system made before the election. 
So what do I think?
To be honest, I thought David Cameron would get a second term ( I don’t think anyone was prepared by the majority he got in by). I thought Ukip and the Green party would gain more seats than they did (although it was the voting system that screwed them over, and that’s another topic for another post) and the SNP did far better than I thought.  
David Cameron certainly is not perfect. I dislike the way he placed the cuts heavily on the poor and middle-income earners. The proliferation of zero hour contracts, meaning so many people stuck in jobs where they may only get two hours a week but have to be free for 37 and the frustrating tax loop poles so many companies exploit to avoid paying tax. However he has been a leader before, got the experience and I think the presence that Ed Milliband cannot replicate. 
What does the mean for me in the next five years?
Considering the last five years the country has gone through the worst recession since World War 2, I have done fairly well. I went to university, have a full time paid job and have just bought my first house. On top of this- I avoided the nine grand fees and got EMA. 
As awful as it sounds I don’t think Cameron’s proposals at this point will affect me that much and even if they do I am fairly confident that I can weather the storm. 
I am not cold hearted and do worry about social issues- increasing need in food banks, increase in the lack of decent jobs, rapid decline in unaffordable housing, the possible increase of university fee’s to £12 grand and the possible privatisation of the NHS. 
I don’t think Labour would have been right for this country because in the simplest terms their plan was to spend their way out of a recession and I had a gut feeling we would only end up back at square one. Whatever happens now as Cameron starts putting policies in place, I am sure the public will make their voice heard. 
What are your opinions of the election? Are you happy with the outcome?


BBC Generation 2015 was a programme run by the BBC where 200 young people aged 18-24 were picked to represent the views and issues of young people and politics. These young people were picked from a variety of backgrounds and had a variety of experiences. As part of BBC Generation 2015, I had to go through an interview process to be one of the 200 young people chosen. I had never been to essentially an audition before so thought as Generation 2015 is coming to an end, I thought I would talk about how I got to be part of it.

The Application

Firstly, I had to fill out the application form. I found out about the opportunity on Twitter but saw it advertised on the BBC news website as well. The application form took forever, it was about four pages long I think. I remembered the form being a PDF and a nightmare to fill out because of the formatting. I emailed it off and played the waiting game.

I got a phone call a few weeks later inviting me to audition. As I lived, at the time, in Stoke-on-Trent but originally come from Lincolnshire the BBC in Hull were keen for me to audition there. But in the case I couldn’t get there, they gave me the option of auditioning in Birmingham and Manchester as well. Unfortunately, I happened to be on jury service at the time all of the auditions were taking place and I couldn’t commit to a day. Manchester was the first audition on the list and when I found out I wasn’t going to be in court that day I headed down to Media City.

The Day

When I arrived in the room I had my ‘game face’ on as you would call it. There were about 20 young people in total all around this table and I knew that I had to say enough that I was remembered but not be too domineering. Dave Howard who managed BBC Generation 2015 made us all at ease really quickly. Firstly he went round the table asking our name, age, occupation and if we were going to vote and if so who we were going to vote for. After this, we gave our opinions on a variety of topics ranging from immigration to NHS to education.

After lunch, there was a recording into a camera piece. I have never really spoken into a camera before so wasn’t sure what to expect but knew I had to perform well. My piece you can see in my Generation2015 profile here. I did this in one take and was pretty chuffed about that as most people had to do theirs more than once. We also helped Radio 5 live with their piece called ‘My first election as…’ So we spoke into an iPad about what it is our first election as. I said it will be my first election as a full-time worker.

Afterwards, Dave took a head shot photograph of us and explained that we had done well but not all of us would be picked as he had to allow for political non-partiality (a lot of people in my cohort supported one political party) he let us know when we would hear from him and then we headed home!

A few weeks later I hadn’t heard anything back and I noticed that some people from the Manchester audition had already done some radio work with the BBC. I got an email from the BBC asking for more people to get involved (I don’t think that email was meant for me) so I emailed back saying that I was disappointed that I hadn’t heard that I had been rejected considering I went to the interview and only found out because I saw people from my cohort doing some pieces. Dave emailed back saying that they were going to make a final decision in a few weeks and that some people were needed quicker than expected. Two weeks later I got a phone call telling me that I had got in!

What did I think of the interview?

The process was what I thought it would be like. I was pleased with my own interview performance (I obviously did enough to get chosen!) but was amazed at the amount of stuff and experiences that the other young people had done. Whether that was working at a soup kitchen or setting up their own business or gone through something horrific in their life and come out the other side stronger.  As I was one of three people who worked full time and one of the oldest there, I knew that would put me at an advantage because the others were mainly students. So my experience wasn’t just based on being in education as it is different working full time compared to being in education full time. I also did my camera piece in one take which I thought would have helped as well. It was tiring speaking about politics for six hours straight but I enjoyed the day and got chosen so am happy.

*This post is my opinion only and is not endorsed by BBC Generation 2015 

(Image Source)

Being part of BBC Generation 2015 (see here for more info) has made me more politically aware then probably any other time in my 24 years. One thing I hear or read time and time again is young people my age saying they are not interested or do not understand politics because they were not taught it at school.

To me it’s madness to say that. We are supposedly educated people so relying on teachers to spoon feed us information to make a decision regarding the future of the country is not giving the best impression of us aged 18- 25 year old’s. 
Politics isn’t easy and yes it is confusing but the internet is a wonderful resource and a bit of research (you can never know everything about politics and I don’t claim at all to know everything because I don’t) goes a long way and can help shape your decision better than any class could. 
All my research is based on reading flyers that come through the post, Googling specific background information, watching the news and specific documentaries and talking to other people about politics. Not once have I moaned that I hadn’t been taught it at school. Yes it could enable young people to take an interest- which is no bad thing, but to purely say you are not going to take an interest because other people haven’t and you were not taught it at school only discounts you. What is your opinion? 

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