Repeat the mantra: The unstable loner did it

Yesterday, Labour MP Jo Cox was murdered by a supporter of far-right politics.  

Mrs. Cox, a former Oxfam activist – Oxfam statement, has sought to persuade the government to allow access to Britain for refugee children – Cox Dubs speech – and she had taken part in the counter flotilla on the Thames earlier this week to respond to the UKIP ‘Brexit’ flotilla.


She was an active supporter of the Palestinian people and of the BDS campaign – Friend of Palestine.  

As a visible, and successful, campaigning member of parliament her politics were the antithesis of the hate-filled rhetoric from the bigots and xenophobes whose language has become ever more coercive towards violence against the foreigner, the immigrant, the stranger.  

One man, encouraged and emboldened by such hateful rhetoric, killed her.  A witness to the murder has stated that he heard the killer shout the name of the far-right party Britain First as he killed Mrs. Cox.  But, as swiftly and as relentlessly as possible, the mainstream media has followed the standard paradigm for far-right terrorism: Unstable Loner.

By the rules of mainstream journalism and political commentary, the ‘Unstable Loner’ is white, Christian or atheist, and a fan of far-right politics and his terrorist acts are due to mental health issues.  Whatever he may say or write about his political outlook, whichever far-right groups he may be associated with and however many photographs may be unearthed of him attired with far-right insignia, he will not be described as being primarily motivated by such politics and, thus, he will not be called a terrorist.  

Also, his mental health will be assumed to be the sole cause of his terrorist act regardless of evidence of other causes, regardless of lack of proof of mental health difficulties and with absolute disdain for the irrationality and offence of associating mental health difficulties with violent acts. Author Matt Haig responded succinctly to the stupidity of assuming mental health issues encourage extreme violence.


The Unstable Loner narrative appeared in the media rapidly after Mrs.Cox was slain.  In the Telegraph, three writers worked on an article that attempted to downplay her killer’s political interests and focus on his ‘loner’ attributes – Telegraph loner.  The article quotes an interview he gave to a local newspaper and, craftily, re-produces the quote “I can honestly say it has done me more good than all the psychotherapy and medication in the world” except that in the original article the word used instead of ‘psychotherapy’ is ‘physiotherapy.’  

This tone is repeated elsewhere with the three recurring features:  

  1. Emphasis of the killer’s solitude
  2. Exaggeration of mental health issues and arbitrary creation of connection between such health issues and a propensity to use of violence
  3. Downplaying of influence of right-wing ideology

Jo Cox’s killer’s direct connections to various far-right groups were exposed quickly – Hatewatch account – but the Daily Mail says only “there is unconfirmed evidence Mair supported far-right causes” – Mail account.  “Unconfirmed,” “unclear” and “speculation” are added carefully to any mention of far-right connections in most media accounts.  

Even when the existence of such connections is difficult to deny the media and right-wing politicians describe the connection entirely from the perspective of the ‘unstable loner.’  That is, the narrative is of a person with mental health issues having an almost accidental relationship with far-right politics, thus absolving the politics of all blame.  It is only far-right politics that is permitted to deny any culpability if one of its supporters or activists commits a serious crime.  

The killer of Jo Cox shouted “Britain First” as he murdered her.  That party’s leaders have denied a connection.  In a video message, to which I refuse to provide a link, Britain First leader Paul Golding said “I don’t think it was one of our supporters. We stand in elections and organise protests – we don’t encourage this kind of nonsense.  So this is a very dark day for our country and for our democracy. We do not know what was said. At the moment, it is pure hearsay.”  This is the same Britain First that promotes violence, invades places of worship, holds pseudo-military training courses and has direct links to loyalist terrorists in Northern Ireland.

In May this year UKIP leader Nigel Farage told the BBC that violence would follow if anti-migrant politicians did not get what they want: “We have lost control of our borders completely as members of the EU, and if people feel voting doesn’t change anything then violence is the next step.” His comments are quoted here – Farage.  Earlier this week a new UKIP propaganda poster promoted an extreme anti-migrant view: 


and the day before Jo Cox’s murder Farage took part in a mock invasion flotilla up the Thames to Westminster.  (As mentioned above Jo Cox protested against this flotilla in her own boat.)  The increasingly bold and shameless appeals by UKIP to the most base views and Jo Cox’s visible and lucid opposition to such views has made some see her as a target.  

But, the causality described above will not be accepted by mainstream media.  

The ‘unstable loner’ whose attachment to far-right politics is incidental is the prevailing narrative.  

The woolly blame pointed at mental health issues is the prevailing narrative.  

Do not blame the provocateurs, the rabble-rousers, the speeches at rallies.  

Do not blame the liars, frauds, bigots, xenophobes and racists of the far-right.

Blame, with abject ignorance, an unexplained connection to mental health, bereft of evidence and side-stepping any explanation as to why you think mental health issues encourage extreme acts of violence.

The unstable loner did it.

The unstable loner did it. 

The unstable loner did it.

The unstable loner did it. 



Repeat the mantra: The unstable loner did it

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