Leaders: Upholding democracy is a fitting tribute to Jo Cox

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MP – and her colleagues of all parties – should be honoured for principled devotion to bettering the lives of their constituents

When someone dies in horrific circumstances, it is only to be expected that the tributes will be fulsome and many.

In the case of Jo Cox, the MP murdered on Thursday, it appears they are also genuine and heartfelt.

A married mother of two who had been an MP for just over a year, the 41-year-old nevertheless seems to have made quite an impact during her short time in politics, not to mention in the many lives she touched elsewhere in her life.

Among the tributes yesterday was one from a university friend who said Mrs Cox did not just want to be an MP, but the MP for Batley and Spen, her home constituency which she would represent all too briefly.

Despite an overwhelming feeling of cynicism about politicians and politics in recent years, it is important to remember there are MPs like Jo Cox.

Indeed, there are many, many MPs like Jo Cox.

These are not the politicians of the soundbite and the dirty tricks campaign, but the principled men and women seeking to make the lives of those around them better.

While we recoil at the horror that befell the member for Batley and Spen, we should also take time to remember and extol the humble MP who, no matter their party stripe, works hard on behalf of their constituents.

Yes, there are those who give the whole endeavour a bad name. Since the expenses scandal, it has been fashionable to paint all politicians as belonging to a self-serving cadre of careerists devoid of life experience with their noses perpetually in the trough.

Jo Cox wasn’t that – the vast majority of our MPs are not that.

Despite an apathy in some quarters about the political process, our politicians remain more accountable than just about anywhere else in the world.

Among the desperate details of Mrs Cox’s murder is the fact she was killed as she went about holding her weekly constituency surgery.

This feature of our democracy – often nothing more than a forum for those with petty grievances, although there are genuine cases too – should be cherished.

It would be an appalling travesty if the death of Mrs Cox – a politician who fought tirelessly for her local constituents – led to that feature of our system being done away with.

Details of a motive for the murder of Mrs Cox have yet to emerge. The full story will only be known following thorough investigation.

But Prime Minister David Cameron and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn are right when they say the events that took place in the West Yorkshire village of Birstall on Thursday lunchtime were an “attack on democracy”.

We do not foster democracy by recoiling from confrontation, but from taking it on with words and reason.

We should celebrate our democracy and our politicians, not retreat into fear.

That would be the most fitting tribute to Jo Cox.

Peakes and troughs for Major Tim

Good luck to Tim Peake as he returns to earth. After six months at the space station, you would think he had done the hard bit,

But even returning home is fraught with danger.

The temperature outside his landing craft will be 2,500 degrees celcius as he hurtles towards home.

The Soyuz capsule carrying Major Peake and two other crew members will land in Kazakhstan today.

He is the first person to visit space representing the UK since Helen Sharman in 1991.

Major Peake has described his time in space as a “really remarkable, incredible experience”.

We have all enjoyed his adventure, much of it shared with us, especially his pictures.

The space station is nothing new, but having someone British there has engaged us all, and his exploits have been well directed at a British audience.

Major Peake must have incredible mental strength to have coped with the last six months, and that challenge doesn’t stop today.

Re-acclimatising and rehabilitating himself to life on Earth will present another test of his character, his mental and physical strength.

The past six months must have been tough for his family, but it won’t necessarily be easy to have him back.

Who can slot from one life as a spaceman into another as husband and father seamlessly?

And let’s not forget he wasn’t just up there to entertain us. Major Peake has been conducting significant research.

As well as a historic venture, it has been a sacrifice for him as well.

We wish him well for the weeks and months ahead.