Caroline Cox, Baroness Cox
The Baroness Cox
|Member of the House of Lords|
|Assumed office |
2 March 1983
Caroline Anne McNeill Love
6 July 1937
|Political party||Cross-bench (2004–present)|
Conservative (until 2004)
|Alma mater||University of London|
University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Caroline Anne Cox, Baroness Cox, FRCN (née McNeill Love; born 6 July 1937) is a cross-bench member of the British House of Lords. She is also the founder of an organisation called Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART). Cox was created a Life Peer in 1982 and was a deputy speaker of the House of Lords from 1985 to 2005, as well as being a minister in government. She was also a Baroness-in-Waiting to Queen Elizabeth II. She was Founder Chancellor of Bournemouth University, Chancellor of Liverpool Hope University from 2006-2013, and is an Hon. Vice President of the Royal College of Nursing. She was a founder Trustee of MERLIN Medical Emergency Relief International.
She is a prominent lay Anglican, closely identified with the conservative wing of the Church of England. According to a biography by Andrew Boyd, she is a practising third-order Anglican Franciscan. Baroness Cox's actions have been described as campaigns for humanitarian causes, particularly those relating to disability.
Cox was born on 6 July 1937 in London. She is the daughter of Robert McNeill Love, a surgeon and co-author of the textbook known as "Bailey and Love". She was educated at Channing School in Highgate. She became a state registered nurse at London Hospital from 1958, and a staff nurse at Edgware General Hospital from 1960. She married Dr Murray Newall Cox in 1959, remaining married to him until he died in 1997. The couple had two sons and one daughter. In the late 1960s she studied for a degree at the University of London where she graduated with a first class honours degree in Sociology in 1967 and a Master's degree.
Academic and thinktank career and subsequent activities
On graduating, Cox became a sociology lecturer at the Polytechnic of North London rising to become Principal Lecturer. From 1974 she was head of the Department of Sociology. An Evangelicals Now article sympathetically describes her approach to her discipline: "As a committed Christian she presented a Christian view of Sociology." She was therefore targeted by student movement: "It was a time of student unrest and the students organised demonstrations to disrupt lectures or meetings which they considered anti-Marxist. Cox bore the brunt of this and in 1974 the students passed a vote of no confidence in her." Her background in sociology led her to write books on the subject for nurses.
In 1975, Cox co-wrote (with John Marks and Keith Jacka) The Rape of Reason: The Corruption of the Polytechnic of North London, published by Churchill Press Limited, attacking "Communist activity" at her workplace. She resigned from the Polytechnic in 1977 and was a tutor at the Open University. She was involved in the right-wing thinktank Institute for the Study of Conflict and contributed to its report, the Gould report, on left-wing activism in British universities, in which she focused on "Marxist bias" in the Open University.
In 1977 she moved to become Director of the Nursing Education Research Unit at Chelsea College of the University of London and remained in this post until 1984. She was also made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons. She was later founding Chancellor of Bournemouth University. In 2006 she received an honorary law degree from the University of Dundee and was installed as the Chancellor of Liverpool Hope University in the same year.
The New Right and Thatcherism
Following her work on the Gould Report, Cox became a key figure in the New Right associated with Margaret Thatcher, Keith Joseph and Enoch Powell. She co-wrote The Pied Pipers of Education (1981) for the Social Affairs Unit and worked with the Centre for Policy Studies, for which she wrote the influential pamphlet The Right to Learn (1982). Her work on education was very influential on Thatcher's education policies. She co-founded and co-directed the Educational Research Trust, founded in 1980, with John Marks; they were consulted about the drafting of the 1988 Education Reform Act, which introduced the National Curriculum, grant-maintained schools and City Technology Colleges.
She was involved in the Institute for European Defence and Security Studies, funded by the US-based Heritage Foundation, in the early 1980s, for which she wrote Peace Studies: A Critical Survey (1984) with Roger Scruton, published by the right-wing thinktank Civitas. She was a Director of the Conservative Philosophy Group from 1983-85. With Scruton and others she wrote Education and Indoctrination. In the mid-1980s, she worked with Scruton as part of the Hillgate Group of Conservative activists; their pamphlet Whose Schools? A Radical Manifesto, which she co-authored, was published in 1986, and contained many ideas that became Government policy under Thatcher. In 1987 she co-founded the Committee for a Free Britain, funded by Rupert Murdoch, which at one point called for "the legalization of all drugs" She was the executive director of the Institute for the Study of Terrorism in 1985-1990.
Since its founding in 2007, she has been closely involved, first as an advisor and from 2009 as director, in the Centre for Social Cohesion. She is a director of the far right Gatestone Institute.
Member of the House of Lords
Her peerage was announced on 15 December 1982 on a list of "working peers", on the recommendation of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and she was granted the title of Baroness Cox, of Queensbury in Greater London, on 24 January 1983. Cox initially sat as a Conservative and served briefly as a Baroness-in-Waiting to Queen Elizabeth II. She served as a Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords from 1986 to 2006.
Education Reform bill
During the debates over the Education Reform bill, Cox worked together with Michael Alison to ensure that a commitment was made that state education was 'broadly Christian' in character. The bill later passed as the Education Reform Act 1988. She backed the reforms to reduce powers of Local Education Authorities in 1993, arguing for a more strongly religious element to teaching.
Cox became a frequent contributor to Lords debates on Africa, and also raised other "forgotten conflicts" in letters to the press. She was already highlighting fighting in Sudan in September 1992, criticising Sudan's Islamist government and backing Dr. John Garang's Sudan People's Liberation Army.
After spending two years investigating the situation in Azerbaijan firsthand, Cox criticised the government's treatment of Armenians in the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh in 1993. In 2015, she was a member of the Armenian All-Party Parliamentary Group.She is a strong supporter of self-determination for the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh. By 2003 she had made more than 60 trips to the region. Frank Pallone, Jr., the co-chairman of the US Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, praised her devotion to Armenia and Karabakh. On 15 February 2006 she was awarded the Mkhitar Gosh Medal by the President of Armenia Robert Kocharyan.
Cox is one of eleven officers of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea. The Group stated that the Obama administration brought with it an opportunity for a formal cessation of hostilities and normalisation of relations with North Korea.
Great Britain has Fallen
In 2002, she controversially endorsed and hosted the launch of the book Great Britain has Fallen by Wale Babatunde, a minister at the World Harvest Christian Centre in London, which claimed "that multi-culturalism is ruining Britain by importing 'foreign practices', homosexuality is 'destructive' and that abortion can be directly equated with the Holocaust" and described lesbianism as "against nature". In response, Labour's Tom Watson called for her expulsion from the Conservative Party.
In 2003, she wrote The 'West', Islam and Islamism: Is ideological Islam compatible with liberal democracy? with John Marks, published by Civitas, which argued "that Islamist terrorism was only part of a broader ideological challenge comparable to communist propaganda efforts during the Cold War".
Cox introduced the Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill to the House of Lords, initially on 10 May 2012. with the observation that "Equality under the law is a core value of British justice. My bill seeks to preserve that standard. Many women say: 'We came to this country to escape these practices only to find the situation is worse here.'" It had its second reading and debate on 19 October 2012, but went no further. Cox aims to prevent discrimination against Muslim women and 'jurisdiction creep' in Islamic tribunals, which would be forced to acknowledge the primacy of English law under her Bill, which would have introduced an offence carrying a five-year jail sentence for anyone falsely claiming or implying that sharia courts or councils have legal jurisdiction over family or criminal law. The bill, which would apply to all arbitration tribunals if passed, aimed to tackle discrimination, which its supporters said is inherent in the courts, by banning the sharia practice of giving woman's testimony only half the weight of men's. In a similar way to Jewish Beth Din courts, sharia tribunals can make verdicts in cases involving financial and property issues which, under the Arbitration Act 1996, are enforceable by the County Court or the High Court. Baroness Cox stated that "We cannot sit here complacently in our red and green benches while women are suffering a system which is utterly incompatible with the legal principles upon which this country is founded. If we don't do something, we are condoning it." The Bill was described by critics as "inflammatory". It did not reach a vote as it ran out of time.
Cox continues fighting to stop sharia 'seeping' into enforcing divorce settlements. Cox re-introduced her legislation on 11 June 2014. One leading Muslim Conservative Party activist said "the Bill will not help to achieve any of its intended goal but will alienate many Muslims".
Cox, speaking at a 2014 event organised by the Yuval Ne’eman Workshop for Science, Technology and Security at Tel Aviv University and The Israeli Institute for Strategic Studies, mentioned the alleged ‘Trojan Horse plot’ in her speech as an example of secret takeover strategies by ‘Islamists’ in Africa made in order to ‘Islamize’ the continent. She said "“Islam is using the freedoms of democracy to destroy it.”
In 2014, she hosted the parliamentary launch of Sharia Watch UK, an anti-Islam organisation led by UKIP candidate Anne Marie Waters. Cox said sharia law "undermines the most fundamental principles of equality enshrined in British law" in respect of its treatment of women.
Eurosceptic and migration critic
Cox is a Eurosceptic. She rebelled over the Maastricht Treaty, supporting an amendment to require a nationwide referendum on ratification on 14 July 1993. In May 2004 she joined three other Conservative peers in signing a letter published by the UK Independence Party urging voters to support it in the elections to the European Parliament. The Leader of the Conservative Party, Michael Howard, immediately withdrew the party whip, formally expelling them from the parliamentary party. Cox now sits in the House of Lords as a crossbencher.
Geert Wilders controversy
In February 2009, Cox courted controversy when she and UKIP peer Lord Pearson invited Dutch Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders to show the anti-Islam film Fitna before the House of Lords. However, Wilders was prevented from entering the UK on the instructions of Labour Home Secretary Jacqui Smith. In response, Cox and Pearson accused the Government of appeasing militant Islam.
In 2010, Cox and Pearson successfully hosted Wilders and his film screening in the UK, with 200 members of the English Defence League marching in support of the screening, as well as anti-fascist protests and 50 arrests. Lady Cox said the visit had been a victory for free speech, saying: "You don't have to agree but it is important to debate sensibly in a responsible and very democratic way." At the event, Wilders called for an end to immigration to Europe from Muslim countries, but that Muslims already in Europe who agree to obey the law would be welcome to remain. A Home Office spokesperson said the government "regrets the decision by Baroness Cox and Lord Pearson".
NGO work and Christian activities
Since 2009, Baroness Cox has participated in a conservative umbrella body within the Church of England, the Federation of Confessing Anglicans, led by her close associate, then Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali.
The Tushinskaya Children's Hospital Trust
Baroness Cox is president of the Tushinskaya Children's Hospital Trust and worked closely with its late patron, Diana, Princess of Wales. Baroness Cox and the Princess of Wales opened the hospital's school of paediatric nursing in 1995. The Trust enabled parents to spend more time with their children whilst they were in hospital.
Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust
The Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART), founded by Baroness Cox in 2003, works to provide lasting change through aid and advocacy for those suffering oppression and persecution, who are largely neglected by the international media. An Australian branch of HART was established in 2009.
Christian Solidarity International and Worldwide
Cox was active in Christian Solidarity International (CSI) before leading the breakaway Christian Solidarity Worldwide in 1997. She was president of the latter until 2006, when she was replaced by Jonathan Aitken, thereafter remaining as its patron.
During the 1992–93 Armenia-Azerbaijan war, CSI broke Azerbaijan’s blockade of the contested Nagorno-Karabakh territory numerous times to deliver humanitarian aid and document acts of violence against the Christian Armenian inhabitants of Nagorno-Karabakh. CSI also partnered with the Andrei Sakharov foundation to send aid to refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh. Witnessing the war on the ground, CSI published a detailed account of the First Nagorno-Karabakh War titled Ethnic Cleansing in Progress: War in Nagorno Karabakh co-authored by Cox with John Eibner.
CSI’s involvement with Sudan began in 1992, when two of CSI’s leaders, Cox and Eibner, traveled to southern Sudan at the invitation of local churches to observe the effects of civil war on the Christian populations there. CSI became especially involved in "redeeming" (buying and freeing) slaves in 1995.
Between 1997 and 2000, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) directly intervened to buy the freedom of alleged slaves, and in a letter to The Independent on Sunday Cox claimed and redeemed 2,281 slaves on eight visits to Sudan. Both the veracity of this claim and the rationale of slave redemption have been questioned by others in humanitarian community. Cox repeated the figure in 2011, adding that she had spent £100,000 buying and freeing slaves, tactic most anti-slavery charities condemned, arguing that such purchases only perpetuate and encourage the trade.
Global Panel Foundation and Prague Society
Cox is a member of the Board of Advisors of the Global Panel Foundation, an NGO that works behind the scenes in crisis areas around the world. Baroness Cox is also a member of Prague Society for International Cooperation, another NGO whose main goals are networking and the development of a new generation of responsible, well-informed leaders and thinkers.
Cox supports disability causes as a member of the World Committee on Disability. In 2004 she was a judge for the Franklin Delano Roosevelt International Disability Award, distributed annually at the United Nations in New York to a nation that has met the goals of the UN World Programme of Action Concerning Disabled Persons.
Cox has been a supporter of Syria's President Bashar Assad. She visited him during the Syrian Civil War, during the siege of Aleppo, along with Michael Nazir-Ali, fellow crossbench peer Lord Hylton, and Andrew Ashdown, an Anglican vicar. She was widely condemned. Labour MP John Woodcock, vice-president of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Syria, said: "It is shocking to see a British parliamentarian giving international pariah al-Assad a photo opportunity to distract from the brutal and ongoing slaughter he is perpetrating on Syrian families. Whatever good intentions this British delegation has will fail; their presence at this man's side can only strengthen him as his campaign of terror continues." Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Hussein-Ece said it was "shameful" for members of the House of Lords to "sit down for a chat with a mass murderer and a war criminal". Russian state media claimed Cox said that Assad had an “openness for the development of civil society, democracy and change”. After her visit, in early 2017, she went to the US to lobby for president Assad's government. While there, she expressed doubt that Syrian government forces were responsible for Khan Shaykhun chemical attack.
In late 2017, she returned to Syria again, along with former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey. She reportedly met with an Assad advisor named on American and European Union sanctions lists as complicit in Syrian government war crimes. Again, the visit was widely condemned by politicians and human rights groups in the UK, and described by analysts as a “propaganda coup” for the Assad government. In a subsequent parliamentary debate, she referred to Syrian rebels as "jihadists".
Baroness Cox regularly appears on the BBC Daily Politics television programme and has presented the "Soap Box" with "A Moral Maze".[original research?] She also appears on Russia TV and other channels associated with the Russian government, as she feels they are more frank about Islam's threat to Western traditions.
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- The Right to Learn (jt au 1982)
- Sociology: A Guide for Nurses, Midwives and Health Visitors (jt au 1983)
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- Ethnic Cleansing in Progress: war in Nagorno Karabakh (1993)
- Islam, Islamism and the West: Is ideological Islam compatible with liberal democracy? (2005)
- Made to Care: the case for residential and village communities for people with a mental handicap
- Baroness Cox: A voice for the voiceless. (1999) Boyd, A. Lion Books. ISBN 0-7459-3735-7
Lady Cox has been the subject of two published biographies, Baroness Cox: A Voice for the Voiceless by Andrew Boyd; and Baroness Cox: Eyewitness to a Broken World by Lela Gilbert.
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