"Everyone hates politicians," the MSP observed. We were chatting about the EU referendum and she was explaining why the polls were showing a rise in support for a Leave vote.

A Remain supporter, she blamed a public mood that holds politics in contempt. The campaign to stay in the EU, led by the Prime Minister and backed by the Bank of England and big business, was simply being ignored, she felt. People didn't trust it. In fact, they actively wanted to give the establishment a bloody nose.

She spoke of the expenses scandal, of the decade-long impact of the banking crash, of people's feelings of frustration, insecurity and alienation from politics.

I didn't argue. But I was still struck by the matter-of-fact way in which she said: "Everyone hates politicians".

A few hours later, the news came through that Jo Cox had been killed outside a library where she had been holding a constituency surgery.

Immediately, heartbreaking tributes began to tell a very different story about our relationship with the people we elect to represent us.

Like the vast majority of MPs and MSPs, Ms Cox did not belong to some remote, self-serving elite.

Born and brought up in a working class West Yorkshire community, she won a place at Cambridge and forged a high-flying career in the charity sector before returning to serve her home town as its MP. She described herself as a "proud Yorkshire lass".

The tributes paid by her husband, by politicians on all sides and by those who worked with her speak of her compassion and extraordinary accomplishments.

But so too do the comments of her constituents in Birstall. Jo was friendly, helpful, hard working and ready to listen. She was admired for her achievements. She was well liked. She was one of them.

A few months before last year's general election, I bumped into an MP I know well. I suggested we go for a quick pint. His eyes lit up but then his face fell.

He had to be back in his Lanarkshire constituency within the hour to take part in a community litter pick-up. Not long after, his constituents responded to this dedication by ejecting him from his job.

The story illustrates two constants of the politician's life: hard, unglamorous graft on behalf of others and the ever-present threat of the sack.

MPs and MSPs find themselves spending long evenings in sparsely-attended local meetings discussing traffic lights or dustbins.

Weekends are taken up with even more constituency events. After staggering round a 10k run a couple of years ago I got chatting to the MP who was presenting the medals.

He was gutted, he admitted. A keen runner, he'd wanted to take part himself, but couldn't because he had also agreed to present the prizes at a bowls tournament earlier in the afternoon. He, too, was unceremoniously dumped at the last election, by the way.

Politicians are all the same, aren't they? It's a line we like to parrot and we don't usually mean it as a compliment. But they are same, nearly all of them.

Politicians want to make a difference. They want to put something back. They care about the life of their community and want to help people. They believe the values of the political tribe they belong to will change the country for the better.

Sure, some are more effective than others.

But very, very few go into it because it looks like an easy life.

They work long, anti-social hours under intense scrutiny. They shoulder very great responsibilities, like passing laws, or deciding whether we go to war. They can be bombarded with abuse and have to reapply for their jobs every five years.

And everybody hates them.

If one thing comes from Jo Cox's shocking and tragic death, it should be this. We should abandon our lazy, unthinking disdain for the people who represent us.

As voters we only need ask ourselves a couple of simple questions.

Is my MP or MSP working hard for me and my community?

Do I agree, by and large, with the aims and values of their particular political gang?

If the answer is No, an election will be along soon enough. And it's shame on us, not the politicians, that never have more than six out of 10 voters taken part in a Holyrood election.