The vicious murder of Sir David Amess was a senseless, mindless act against a truly kind-hearted and good man. He was killed whilst diligently doing his job and the fact that the crime was committed in a place of worship shows a level of utter disregard for humanity that is as sad as it is outrageous.
At the time I heard the news I was running a surgery myself, with my team, in my constituency office in Maidstone. We were all in shock and days later I still feel stunned and hollowed out by this heinous act.
It is true that I have suffered abuse and threats, and I’d wager most of my colleagues have received the same treatment. And whilst we brush it aside and tell ourselves we need thick skins, it is horrible nonetheless and totally unacceptable. But none of that compares with the bald-faced murder meted out on David.
Following the loss of Jo Cox MP in 2016, the physical security measures that have been put in place are a comfort and a barrier of sorts. Kent police have also been excellent in their care and conduct when threats have been reported to them over the past five years, and they were on the phone to me within an hour of the stabbing last Friday.
A perpetrator intent on murder, however, has the element of surprise on their side and few of us are trained in disarming an assailant at that moment of attack. I am taking advice from the Parliamentary Authorities and the police as to what measures we could, and should, adopt to protect us going forward.
But I do know this; David will not want his death to become a barrier to meetings in person. Some things can only be done effectively if we are face to face, one-on-one, and in roundtable and larger public meetings. We must not lose this vital aspect of our democracy because of the abhorrent actions of one individual. That is why I am absolutely certain that I will continue to have meetings, in person, in my constituency of Maidstone & The Weald.
The people of Southend West have lost a dedicated public servant and his wife and children have lost a loving husband and father. My deepest sympathies are with them at this time.