Jo Cox, however, was not just any MP doing her duty. She was also an MP who was driven by an ideal. The former charity worker explained what that ideal was as eloquently as anyone could in her maiden speech last year. “Our communities have been deeply enhanced by immigration,” she insisted, “be it of Irish Catholics across the constituency or of Muslims from Gujarat in India or from Pakistan, principally from Kashmir. While we celebrate our diversity, 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 things that divide us.”
What nobler vision can there be than that of a society where people can be comfortable in their difference? And what more fundamental tenet of decency is there than to put first and to cherish all that makes us human, as opposed to what divides one group from another? These are ideals that are often maligned when they are described as multiculturalism, but they are precious nonetheless. They are the ideals which led Ms Cox to campaign tirelessly for the brutalised and displaced people of Syria, and – the most painful thought – ideals for which she may now have died.
This was no random event, and the police are investigating reports that the assailant yelled “Britain First” during the attack. This is not merely a chauvinist taunt, but the name of a far-right political party, whose candidate for City Hall turned his back in disgust on Sadiq Khan at the count, in sectarian rage at a great cosmopolitan city’s decision to make a Muslim mayor. The thuggish outfit denounced Ms Cox’s murder, as it was bound to do. But their brand of angry blame-mongering could very well serve to convince particular individuals – especially those who are already close to the edge, as it is reported Ms Cox’s murderer was – that some people are less than human, and thus fair game for attack. The rhetoric of western racism and Islamophobia is the mirror of the ideology with which Isis and al-Qaida secure their recruits and that persuades them to strap explosives to themselves, and die in order to kill. It might be especially powerful in Britain, at a time when divisive hate-mongering is seeping into the mainstream.
The Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 formally freed 800,000 Africans who were then the legal property of Britain’s slave owners. What is less well known is that the same act contained a provision for the financial compensation of the owners of those slaves, by the British taxpayer, for the loss of their “property”. The compensation commission was the government body established to evaluate the claims of the slave owners and administer the distribution of the £20m the government had set aside to pay them off. That sum represented 40% of the total government expenditure for 1834. It is the modern equivalent of between £16bn and £17bn.
The compensation of Britain’s 46,000 slave owners was the largest bailout in British history until the bailout of the banks in 2009. Not only did the slaves receive nothing, under another clause of the act they were compelled to provide 45 hours of unpaid labour each week for their former masters, for a further four years after their supposed liberation. In effect, the enslaved paid part of the bill for their own manumission.
The records of the Slave Compensation Commission are an unintended byproduct of the scheme. They represent a near complete census of British slavery as it was on 1 August, 1834, the day the system ended. For that one day we have a full list of Britain’s slave owners. All of them. The T71s tell us how many slaves each of them owned, where those slaves lived and toiled, and how much compensation the owners received for them. Although the existence of the T71s was never a secret, it was not until 2010 that a team from University College London began to systematically analyse them. The Legacies of British Slave-ownership project, which is still continuing, is led by Professor Catherine Hall and Dr Nick Draper, and the picture of slave ownership that has emerged from their work is not what anyone was expecting.
The large slave owners, the men of the “West India interest”, who owned huge estates from which they drew vast fortunes, appear in the files of the commission. The man who received the most money from the state was John Gladstone, the father of Victorian prime minister William Ewart Gladstone. He was paid £106,769 in compensation for the 2,508 slaves he owned across nine plantations, the modern equivalent of about £80m. Given such an investment, it is perhaps not surprising that William Gladstone’s maiden speech in parliament was in defence of slavery.
The records show that for the 218 men and women he regarded as his property, Charles Blair, the great-grandfather of George Orwell, was paid the more modest sum of £4,442 – the modern equivalent of about £3m. There are other famous names hidden within the records. Ancestors of the novelist Graham Greene, the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and the architect Sir George Gilbert Scott all received compensation for slaves. As did a distant ancestor of David Cameron. But what is most significant is the revelation of the smaller-scale slave owners.
Slave ownership, it appears, was far more common than has previously been presumed. Many of these middle-class slave owners had just a few slaves, possessed no land in the Caribbean and rented their slaves out to landowners, in work gangs.These bit-players were home county vicars, iron manufacturers from the Midlands and lots and lots of widows. About 40% of the slave owners living in the colonies were women. Then, as now, women tended to outlive their husbands and simply inherited human property through their partner’s wills.
Today in Britain, Jo Cox, a female Labour Party MP (Member of Parliament) was shot 3 times and killed in West Yorkshire by a man who, according to some eyewitnesses, pledged allegiance to the far-right, white-nationalist political party ‘Britain First’, though no connection to this party has been confirmed at this time. In her maiden speech, Jo Cox said:
“Our communities have been deeply enhanced by immigration, be it of Irish Catholics across the constituency or of Muslims from Gujarat in India or from Pakistan, principally from Kashmir. While we celebrate our diversity, 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 things that divide us.”
Ms Cox’s compassion can also be seen in her tireless campaigning for the protection of brutalised Syrian refugees, and today we see the heavy price she paid for her commitment to a better future. May she rest in peace.
Jo Cox, the Batley and Spen MP who was tragically killed last week,
would have been 42 today. In honour of her tireless campaigning in
support of refugees, iconic Bristol trip-hop band Portishead have released a video to go alongside their cover of Abba’s SOS.
It features singer Beth Gibbons, shot alone in monochrome, reaching
out towards the camera before ending with Cox’s quote from her maiden
speech in parliament: “We have far more in common than which divides
Hey everyone! So as promised, here’s the one shot I talked about before. It’s not earth shattering and it won’t change the fandom or anything, but I thought it was super cute so here goes.
Hope you guys enjoy and as always thanks for reading!
“Why do you have to disappoint me at
every turn?” Eva sighed, acting much older than her age. Her tiny glasses were perched
low on the bridge of her nose so her stare was that much more menacing. Mr.
Puffyface seemed to glare at me as well from her side.
Her favorite pajamas with the giraffes
lounging on clouds contrasted starkly with the seriousness of her stare and
caused me to let out a chuckle before I answered her.
“Eva, I told you I wasn’t going to read
you another story tonight.” I replied, doing my best to keep my voice stern and
“But Mummmmmmmmmyyyyyy,” She begged,
clasping her hands together so that Mr. Puffyface was held between her
forearms. “You’re so much better at stories and they always help me and Mr. Puffyface
have good dreams.”
She closed her eyes and gritted her teeth
together as she held her begging position, her tiny muscles clenched all over
her body, as if willing me with her spirit to read to her once more. Eva’s
glasses teetered on the edge of her nose with her chesnut brown hair swinging
in her face. I did my best to save a mental snapshot of this moment, like I had
done for many other moments, when I thought she was being extra adorable.
“Okay, but just one.” I insisted, slowly
walking back over to her bed and waiting for her to scooch to the other side so
that I could lie beside her on her tiny twin bed.
“Fanks mummy,” Her cheshire cat grin made
me smile back at her, settling her against me so that her side was pressed
“Long, long ago in a land far, far away,
there lived a…maiden. She’d just turned 16 and was moving back home to live
with her mum, Nurse Linda.”
“Are there going to be dragons?”
“No, but there’s going to be an evil
“I want there to be dragons.” I sighed,
biting my lip as I think for a bit.
“Okay. There are dragons.”
“Proceed.” She instructed, looking up at
me dutifully and waiting for the rest of the story.
“Thank you,” I joked, clearing my throat
before I continued. “So the Maiden, Mae, she had long dark hair that nearly
reached her bum and a magical earmuffs that would play whatever music she
wanted it to and it would transport her to her own special place. And she was
coming back from the Land Of Tixie when she went to live with her mum again.”
“Why was she in the Land of Tixie?” Eva
“She wasn’t very nice to herself and she
had to learn how to be kinder, so she went to the Land of Tixie so she could
learn.” I answered after a moment. Eva scrunched her eyebrows up for a bit,
grasping the concept I’d just described to her. After a moment the look of
consternation soon cleared and her gaze fixed on mine again, waiting for me to
“So Mae was coming home on her horse
from…where she’d been, when she ran into her old friend, Lady Chloe with a few
other knights and maidens beside her.”
“Maiden Mae and Lady Chloe hadn’t talked
in a long time since Mae and her were younger so it was quite odd for Maiden
Mae to see Lady Chloe right after she’d gotten back.”
“Why didn’t Lady Chloe help Maiden Mae
treat herself better if they were friends from before?”
“Because Lady Chloe was too interested in
getting with the fittest Knights and Lords and was too self involved to worry
about Maiden Mae.”
“She sounds like a bad guy.”
“She gets better, don’t worry.” I assured
her, grabbing her hand and continuing on with the story. “So Lady Chloe invited
Maiden Mae to go to the tavern with her later on that night, Mae went, and
there she met the rest of Lady Chloe’s gang which soon became Maiden Mae’s gang
too. There was Sir Chop, who was a kind knight who doubled as a jester if you got
enough ale in him. And Fairy Izzy who was a young pixie with big, bright,
multicolored wings, and Lord Archibald, who was the town scribe and best mates
with the Prince.” Eva’s eyes lit up at the mention of a prince.
“His name was Prince Quinnley and he was
very handsome with big, beautiful eyes but was a bit of a di—jerk.”
“Prince Quinnley was a jerk?”
“Yes, he couldn’t even get Maiden Mae’s
name right at first and didn’t believe her when she said she was the best at
“What kind of music was it?”
“Lutes and harps and things.” I bit my
lip, realizing how flimsy this story must sound to her.
“Anyway, Maiden Mae met everyone in the
gang and all of them took a liking to Mae except for Prince Quinnley. He didn’t
start liking her until she proved how good she was at music and played the age
old tune ‘Sabotage’…eth which put him right in his place.”
“Good for Maiden Mae.” Eva huffed,
crossing her arms.
“Exactly, so gradually, Prince Finnley
was warming up to Maiden Mae. He started wanting to spend time with her and
started being one of Maiden Mae’s best mates. They used to spend all day
together talking and laughing. Maiden Mae even let him use her magical earmuffs
so the songs she played carried the both of them off to their own special place
“So one night, Nurse Linda had gone off with
Sultan Karim to his kingdom, leaving Mae all alone so she decided to have a
party and invite all of her mates.”
“Like a ball?”
“Something like that.” I responded, “So
everyone came over and all of the people at the party decided to play a party game
where two people go hide together and…chat. Now, at this point, Maiden Mae had
a bit of a crush on Prince Quinnley but she hadn’t told him yet, Jester Danny
had told her to ‘treat him mean to keep him keen’ so that’s what she did.”
“She was being mean so he would like her
“Yes, I know, pretty stupid right? But
Mae didn’t know any better. Anyway, they ended up playing the game and having
to go off and have a good chat and Quinnley asked her why she’d been so cold to
him and Mae told him she didn’t want to just
be his friend.”
“Did they kiss?”
“Not yet.” Eva let out a bit of a sigh
and I chuckled, knowing she was going to be just like her mum when she got
older. “And so they kept dancing around each other, nothing really happening
until the night of Nurse Linda and Sultan Karim’s marriage when the whole gang
came to support Maiden Mae. And Maiden Mae got up and told everyone why she had
been in the Land of Tixie before and that she loved her mates, Lady Chloe, Sir
Chop, Prince Quinnley, Fairy Izzy, and Lord Archibald, and her mum no matter
“Prince Quinnley had left right after her
speech so Maiden Mae went after him. She found him and he said he cared about
her and they started courting.”
“Where’s the dragon?”
“I’m not near finished.” I wrapped my arm
around her shoulders, feeling the warmth of her tiny body against me like my
own little space heater. “So Prince Quinnley and Maiden Mae started courting.
Prince Quinnley showed Maiden Mae to a mystical gateway that Maiden Mae had
never been to before. He had this magical motorcycle that he would take Maiden
Mae on and fly over the sky, it was the freest that Maiden Mae and Prince
Quinnley had ever felt.”
“They were happy with each other, but some other people in
the kingdom weren’t happy.” Eva’s eyebrows pulled together a little at this
part of the story, worried for the two main characters. “Princess Stacey wasn’t
happy one bit. She thought Prince Quinnley and her were meant to wed and didn’t
like that Maiden Mae was with him now. So she and her court tried their best to
bring Maiden Mae down.”
Eva let out a tutt in indignation at what
happened in the story and my heart lifted a little. “Maiden Mae ended up ending
it with Prince Quinnley because she couldn’t understand why he would want to be
with her when he could be with someone like Princess Stacey.”
“But Maiden Mae is the best.” Eva
“I know, but she didn’t know it at the
time.” I looked down at Eva, studying her face to see if this was too much for
her. She looked obstinate, ready for me to continue the story. “So Maiden Mae
stopped hanging out with Lady Chloe and Sir Chop because she was lost. She was
so lost that she started spending her time with a dragon.”
Eva’s eyes widened and her smile grew on
her face. “Yes, a dragon named Liam with curly brown hair and thick dark scales
and a mouth that could breathe fire if he wanted it to.”
“Whooooaaaa,” Eva mused.
“Yeah, pretty scary. So Mae started
spending most of her time with the Dragon, Liam, because she wanted to be far
away from Prince Quinnley and Princess Stacey’s court and have thick scales
like him so nothing could hurt her. He was really funny at first, he would play
pranks on people in the village and steal their hats, making them chase after
him. He seemed to love being a dragon so Mae thought she wanted to be one too.”
I looked down at her mint green bedspread, lost in thought for a moment.
“Eventually, Maiden Mae’s gang began to
fall apart without her there. Prince Quinnley went away to his Uncle’s kingdom
for a bit and Lady Chloe was being held captive by another dragon. But Maiden
Mae thought her place was with Dragon Liam, she couldn’t see that the rest of
the gang missed her and wanted her to return to them. So one day, Maiden Mae
decided she wanted to go back to her gang, to be strong and try again.” I tried
to keep my voice even as I was telling the story, but it broke just a little at
my words, remembering back to that day just like it was yesterday.
“But Dragon Liam didn’t like that she was returning to her
old friends, he thought she was trying to say she was better than him. He
insisted she was just like him, that she had the scales and horns just like
him. He even breathed fire on her to try to turn her into a dragon too. But
when he did that, Maiden Mae got to see his true self, that he wasn’t a dragon
with thick scales at all. That his scales were actually quite thin and he was
really more of a lizard than a dragon.”
“Did she become a lizard too?”
“No, Maiden Mae learned how to use her armor she’d been
building and stand up to him. She stayed strong and fought him off. But that
wasn’t her last battle. She still had to get the gang back together.”
“Right, Lady Chloe was still captured.”
“Right,” I nodded, “so Maiden Mae gathered Sir Chop, Lord
Archibald, and Fairy Izzy together because the four of them were strongest
together instead of apart. And they eventually forgave each other for the
things they’d done to hurt each other and decided to be a gang again.”
“It’s about time,” Eva huffed.
“But there were a few things Maiden Mae needed to do
before everything was well again. She got her armor on and went to go rescue
Lady Chloe from the other dragon named Ian. This dragon was different from
Dragon Liam, his scales were shiny and instead of fire he breathed smoke.”
“He just breathed smoke? That’s not very scary.”
“It wasn’t just regular smoke, that smoke had the power to
make anyone in its path feel small, so small that they were much easier for him
to crush under his big dragon feet.”
“Wow,” Eva looked off into the distance, thinking about
that for a second then back up to me, ready for the story to continue.
“So Maiden Mae went to go rescue Lady Chloe, but Dragon
Ian was ready for Maiden Mae. He breathed his evil smoke on her and made her
feel too small to be of any help to her friend, so she scampered off, having to
clear her head before she could think straight. But she did, she cleared her
head and charged back into his cave and found Lady Chloe.”
“Did she beat Dragon Ian?”
“No?!?” Eva questioned, looking at me like I was crazy.
“It wasn’t Maiden Mae’s dragon to fight, it was Lady
Chloe’s. So she went to Lady Chloe and told her she didn’t have to be in the
cave with Dragon Ian and helped her remember how big and strong she was,
instead of the tiny little munchkin that Dragon Ian had tried to convince her
“So Lady Chloe did it?”
“She did.” I responded, smiling in response to the grin
that spread across Eva’s face. “And then the two of them went back to the gang
“But where was Prince Quinnley?”
“He was still in the other kingdom, Maiden Mae still
hadn’t gotten the courage up to tell Prince Quinnley how she felt, so he hadn’t
come back yet. But then Nurse Linda got sick and Prince Quinnley came back to
comfort Maiden Mae. And then they talked and Nurse Linda got better and Maiden
Mae was stronger now so she didn’t let words from Princess Stacey and her court
affect her anymore.”
“Ugh, Princess Stacey. What happened to her?”
“She moved off to a smaller village and married a much
older Lord. She started selling makeup door to door and never bothered Maiden
Mae or the rest of her gang ever again.”
“So Maiden Mae and Prince Quinnley…did they live happily
ever after after they talked?”
“Sort of. They courted for a few more years and Maiden Mae
went off to the land of Bristol and left Prince Quinnley behind because she’d
convinced herself it was better for her. But a month in, she’d realized how
daft she was and how she missed Prince Quinnley so she begged him to take her
back and he did. And they didn’t let anything get in between them after that,
so instead of them fighting dragons on their own, they fought them together
“There were still dragons after that?”
“A few, but it was a lot easier to fight them with a
partner instead of trying to do it by themselves. And Prince Quinnley and
Maiden Mae got married and eventually had a little princess of their own, Princess
“Princess Eva?” She looked flabbergasted, her eyes wide as
they stared up at me, the realization dawning across her face. “Me?”
“Yep,” I grinned down at her, pulling her close for an
“So you’re Maiden Mae and Daddy’s Prince Quinnley?”
“Uh-huh.” I kissed the top of her head, “And you’re a
dragon fighter just like your Daddy and I. But we’ll always be here to help you
fight your dragons if you need us.”
“You think I can fight dragons too?”
“I think you can do whatever you set your mind to, Love.”
I gently eased her out of her bed as she slid down to lay flat. I tucked her
covers around her body and gave her one more kiss on the forehead before
tiptoeing towards the door. “Good night, Princess Eva. I love you.” I flipped
the light off in her room and cracked the door as I left.
“I love you too, Mummy.” She called. I grinned at her
cracked door, letting the good feeling from the happy ending wash over me.
“Is she asleep?” Finn asked, walking up to me from the
other end of the hall.
“Shhh,” I commanded, pressing my finger to my lips as I
shushed him and grabbed his hand to pull him back to our bedroom.
“Yes, finally.” I announced once our bedroom door was
“Did she ask for another story after I left the room?”
“She did. I told her the fairy tale of Maiden Mae and
Prince Quinnley.” Finn chuckled at the names, then looked back to my eyes.
“Did she like it?” He grinned at me and the lines around
his eyes creased.
“She loved it.” I smiled, “I’m quite the maiden, you
“Oh, I know,” He grinned, placing a quick kiss on my lips.
“I remember. Ya still are, but now you’re a Queen.”
I pulled him against me, kissing him deeper. His arms
wrapped around my waist and pushed me gently against the door.
“So I guess that makes you my King?” I purred into his
ear, working my hands over the body I knew so well, even better than my own.
“If you’ll have me.”
“Oh I’ll have you,” I assured him, running my fingers over
his arse to cup my favorite part of him once again.
He pulled me with him back to our bed, and down on top of
him, hitting the mattress with a gentle thud.
“Maiden Mae,” He called, pulling my shirt over my head
before connecting his lips to my neck.
Jo Cox, however, was not just any MP doing her duty. She was also an MP who was driven by an ideal. She explained what that was as eloquently as anyone could in her maiden speech last year. “Our communities have been deeply enhanced by immigration,” the new member said, “be it of Irish Catholics across the constituency or of Muslims from Gujarat in India or from Pakistan, principally from Kashmir. While we celebrate our diversity, 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 things that divide us.”
What nobler vision can there be than that of a society where people can be comfortable in their difference? And what more fundamental tenet of decency is there than to put first and to cherish all that which makes us human, as opposed to what divides one group from another? These are ideals which are often maligned when they are described as multiculturalism, but they are precious nonetheless. They are the ideals which led Ms Cox to campaign tirelessly for the brutalised and displaced people of Syria, and – the most painful thought – ideals for which she may have died.
“EACH and The Treehouse are delighted to have received a letter from our Royal Patron, HRH The Duchess of Cambridge congratulating us on the 5th anniversary of The Treehouse. The Duchess delivered her maiden speech when she officially opened The Treehouse in March 2012.” - EACH Hospices.