Thursday, May 26

My friend David Amess connected with everyone. We must not hide | Lindsay hoyle


SGo David Amess was a regular in our office. Not because, like many members of parliament, he wanted to secure a debate or ask for something, but because he really liked a gossip and a chat with my staff.

If he weren’t talking about his family, he was a very proud husband and father of five children, he would be talking about his love for animals or extolling the delights of his constituency, Southend West, a place that he told us, and the House, at every opportunity, it certainly deserved to have city status.

But he also wanted to know what was going on in the lives of my colleagues, worrying if one of them was not there, and when a staff member retired after 28 years of service, he presented him with countless gifts to show his appreciation. .

That was David in parliament, and that was David in his constituency. A man who found a connection with everyone, regardless of his background, a man who loved to laugh and always had a kind or cheeky word to say.

As a dedicated MP, committed to serving and helping his constituents, he performed his surgery at Belfair Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea. Just four hours after David’s death, I had time to reflect on the vulnerability of MPs to his surgeries while performing mine at Chorley City Hall.

For more than two hours, voters walked through the doors to tell me about cowboy builders, housing issues, access to mental health services, and even if I knew where a group of cheerleaders could find new facilities.

Would I want that to end after the murders of two of my colleagues, David on Friday and Jo Cox five years earlier?

For me, the answer has to be a very firm no. The very essence of being a deputy is helping and being seen by our constituents. They are the people who chose us to represent them, so surely making ourselves available to them is the cornerstone of our democracy.

After Jo was assassinated while on her way to meet her constituents in surgery in her constituency of Batley and Spen, the House of Commons Security Department offered MPs a set of new security measures to make it happen. their homes and offices were safer. I highly recommend that members take all available measures and continue to do so.

However, now we must take stock and review whether those measures are adequate to protect members, staff and constituents, especially during surgeries. We are working closely and at the same pace with the Home Office and the police to identify options.

Most MPs are like David and Jo: good, decent people who work hard, who love to help their constituents and represent them in parliament. Many are separated from their families for days on end while working in Westminster, but willingly sacrifice their home and personal life to speak for those who have no voice, in the hope that this will lead to something better.

If anything positive can come out of this latest and terrible tragedy, it is that the quality of political discourse has to change. The conversation has to be more friendly and based on respect.

This incident has shown that there is unity across political division in support of democracy. The hatred that drives these attacks has to stop. Disagreements with politicians must be resolved at the polls, not by threats, intimidation or murder.

For now, I want to remember my dear friend and think about the devastated family he leaves behind. I also need to spend some time with my staff, who are heartbroken that someone they especially loved will not be visiting me again.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle is the Speaker of the House of Commons


www.theguardian.com

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