Philippa Thomas Online

Life and leadership coaching

Why Jo Cox was the best kind of politician.


I will remember Jo on her boat with a baby and a smile.

We’d been introduced by a mutual friend who used to work in the White House. When I headed back to London after four years living in the States, he said “there’s this fantastic woman you just have to meet”. And so in October 2011 we did – on her lovely vintage houseboat on the Thames. We talked about babies and boats and travelling the world, about being working parents, and about what professional women could do to help others coming up behind them – as she did.

I first reported on politics for the BBC in Westminster back in 1990, and have spoken to dozens and dozens of politicians since in the UK, the US and beyond. I’m always fascinated with what drives them.

With Jo, this was very clear. She was in politics not for what she could be, but for what she could do. She was smart, strategic, lovable – yes, she could have been a cabinet minister or a party leader. But she really was driven to make the world a better place. And to make us behave more decently.

She was passionate but positive. Something else to hold onto in an age of politicians “full of sound and fury”.

“Let’s have a cuppa sometime” she tweeted me last month. Oh if only


Author: philippathomas

I've been a BBC newswoman for 30 years: reporting from around the world. Currently to be seen anchoring BBC World News TV. Main interests - politics, psychology, reading, trekking, and all things American. I began this personal blog as a 2011 Nieman Journalism Fellow at Harvard. You can also find me talking daily news on Twitter at @PhilippaBBC, coaching @positivecoachi3, and life & travel on Instagram at @philippanews. Thanks for reading!

5 thoughts on “Why Jo Cox was the best kind of politician.

  1. Hello Philippa,

    As a keen follower of politics myself for the past, dare I say, 50 years, I was moved by your thoughtful tribute to Jo Cox. I didn’t know her but, after so much deserved in-depth media coverage of her murder (especially on BBC World News and in The New York Times) I felt that I did know her. Those of us who care about, and/or have ourselves been involved, at one level or another, in public service
    work, are, or ought to be, grieving alongside our British cousins for this ‘one of a kind’ MP – and devoted young Mom. Jo Cox.

    Rob Picard

    P.S. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for an upset, narrow ‘Remain’ victory on the 23rd. From all reports, it will have to be slim!

  2. Dear Rob, thank you for reading and for your sympathetic comments. Jo Cox was extraordinary and after all that has been said, I can’t quite believe she’s gone.

    Best wishes, Philippa

    • Hello Philippa,

      As someone who struggles mastering social media I just want to see whether you received an email reply from me earlier this evening. If not, I’ll try to retrieve and forward it to you. I can usually count on emails! Thanks again.


  3. Dear Rob, no, but do try it again.cheers P

    • Hello again Philippa,

      Thanks for your instant feedback. Essentially, I was thanking you for your heart-felt words on Jo’s behalf. I was also contemplating how her family was going to manage (from the perspective of parents of two grown up children cum young adults)! It won’t be easy for them but let’s hope they will receive lots of emotional support – not just in the House of Commons which, it would seem, is assured – ‘across the board’ – as the UK mourns her loss.

      Rob Picard, Richmond, BC

      P.S. I look forward to reading more of your thoughts and views on various topics. No doubt you have dealt with US politics on a frequent basis – the Presidential election campaign increasingly riveting our attention in Canada too!

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