An inspirational young councillor, one of the youngest in the UK, is honouring Jo Cox’s memory in a fantastic way – by doing a sponsored 15 mile run in aid of “HOPE not Hate”.
Josh Brandwood, who studied public services and criminology at the University of Central Lancashire, was elected last year to sit as a Labour councillor in Morecambe, Lancashire at just 20-years old. After the tragic killing of Cox, who was MP for Batley and Spen in West Yorkshire, Brandwood decided that the best way to honour her memory was not to focus on the hate that surrounded her death.
Speaking exclusively to The Canary, he said:
All the speculation that arose immediately after her death made me angry, but then I remembered that Jo Cox was not someone who operated with hate. Instead she took her passion and used to to positively improve the lives of others.
It was this passion that inspired Brandwood to do something positive himself. So, on Monday 1 August, Josh will be carrying out a 15 mile run in Morecambe in memory of Cox, and everything that she stood for. He said:
In celebration and memory of MP Jo Cox, I am raising funds to support a charity closest to her heart, chosen by her family: HOPE not Hate, who seek to challenge and defeat the politics of hate and extremism within local communities across Britain.
But Brandwood is someone who is deeply passionate about politics and the positive impact they can have on people’s lives himself. As The Canary previously reported, he is aiming to stand as a prospective parliamentary candidate in his hometown of Morecambe in the 2020 general election.
He hasn’t taken the decision to stand as an MP lightly, for he will be up against Conservative MP David Morris, who has been incumbent since 2010. Despite this, Brandwood is unperturbed, saying:
I would like to stand as an MP because I want to make positive changes to my beautiful home town of Morecambe. I think it is the right time under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership to put my name forward. I am tired of the inequalities in society and would like to make a real difference to both my constituency and the rest of the UK.
If elected, Brandwood said there are several policy areas close to his heart that he would make a priority. A key issue for him is mental health services, which he cites as “one of the biggest contemporary issues of our time”. He lives with Generalised Anxiety Disorder himself, so fully understands the importance of improving access to services and making them a top priority.
He would also focus on the UK’s frontline services, as having been a police support officer himself, he has had “first-hand experience of the adverse impact the Tory cuts have had on service provision [to] our vital services”. Brandwood aims to ensure these are protected.
He’d also make housing one of his top priorities, another area he sees the Conservative government failing on.
“The Tories have continually failed to address the housing crisis”, Brandwood says. “Too many people are spending too much on rent and are unable to buy their own home.”
This young councillor, with big aspirations, knows all too well the challenges that lay ahead for both himself, and for the Labour party. But for the moment, his focus is on raising as much money for HOPE not Hate as possible.
The organisation was set up in 2004 to provide a positive antidote to the politics of hate. At the time, the British National Party (BNP) was winning substantial votes and local councillors in northern towns and traditional anti-racism and anti-fascism was failing. HOPE not Hate aims to provide a positive antidote to the politics of hate, and seeks to challenge and defeat extremism within local communities, building resilience against the politics of hate and fear, at a national and grassroots level.
Brandwood says “I would really appreciate it if people could spread the message and support this great cause.” And indeed it is – one that was very close to the heart of Jo Cox. But moreover, Brandwoods actions serve as a reminder that even in the darkest of times, something positive can emerge. The Canary wishes Josh the best of luck with his endeavour.
Support Josh’s 15 mile run via GoFundMe.
Join HOPE not Hate to challenge and defeat extremism.
Featured image via Flickr/Garry Knight