Kate writes a bi-weekly column for the Burton Mail. This column was originally featured in the 21st October print edition.
Fridays for Members of Parliament and members of the public alike are well-recognised as constituency days.
Friday is the day when we are normally clear of all commitments in Westminster, and not required in the House of Commons to vote.
Indeed, without those precious Fridays and weekends in our constituencies, it would be impossible for me to properly represent the views I garner from the residents of Burton, Uttoxeter and their surrounding villages about every aspect of life.
Sir David Amess, the late Member of Parliament for Southend West, like so many of us, held advice surgeries so that his constituents could come and meet with him to share their problems with an expectation that he might counsel them and assist in providing a resolution.
It doesn’t matter how big or small that problem is: as human beings, problems prey on our minds; keep us awake at night; and reduce our quality of life. Sometimes—maddeningly—systems that are meant to help us actually get in the way of that help being provided. That’s normally when an MP can step in and help.
Sir David was doing just that last Friday when he was murdered in cold blood: cruelly taken from his wife and family.
Representing his beloved Southend was a job to which he was unswervingly dedicated, and he served the town’s residents with such passion.
When MPs returned to Westminster on Monday, and we met to remember Sir David’s life of service, it was clear just how respected on both sides of the House he was, and how greatly he will be missed.
Conversations are already turning to security measures for MPs and their constituency offices, and the House of Commons is conducting a review into the protection of politicians, as well as their staff and families, so that their safety is ensured.
We hear so often about the verbal abuse given to—and even death threats made to—Members of Parliament, and in my short time as an MP I am sad to say that few of us escape this criminal behaviour.
Whether that be in person, but particularly these days online—where we see so much hatred directed from others, who dole it out under the cowardly and anonymous cover of often untraceable aliases.
It is one thing to disagree, but quite another to act untowardly, and we must do more to challenge and stop this threatening behaviour. We must take this opportunity to recognise the discord, whilst also making clear to the world that we can and must do better as a society.
My thoughts remain with Sir David’s wife, family, friends, and staff, and indeed to all constituents of Southend West as they mourn the loss of their greatest champion.