David Amess, a British Member of Parliament, has died after being stabbed at his constituency surgery. Essex Police say that a 25-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder.
Amess had been an MP since 1983, and represented Southend West since 1997. He was a genial parliamentarian, a diligent constituency MP and a doughty campaigner for city status for Southend, regularly asking about the matter at Prime Minister’s Questions.
Amess’s death after being attacked at his surgery is a tragic reminder of the risks that MPs run when they meet the public in this fashion. Five years ago, Jo Cox was murdered on her way to a constituency surgery in her seat of Batley and Spen. In 2010, Stephen Timms was stabbed at his surgery. A shockingly large number of MPs have received death threats.
The 1992 election is, probably, the moment from Amess’s political career that will be most remembered. Holding on to his Basildon seat was an early sign that the polls were wrong and that the Tories were going to be reelected.
There will now have to be a debate about the safety of MPs. Can MPs continue to hold these surgeries without any kind of security presence? The British constituency system is based on a lot of contact between parliamentarians and their voters. This openness is a good thing but, as this morning’s awful events show, it also brings risks. Sir David was attacked in Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, where he had been meeting constituents.
A number of Sir David’s fellow MPs have paid tribute to him. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: ‘The reason people are so shocked and sad is above all he was one of the kindest, nicest, most gentle people in politics. He also had an outstanding record of passing laws to help the most vulnerable.’
Leader of the Opposition Sir Keir Starmer said: ‘Horrific and deeply shocking news. Thinking of David, his family and his staff.’
Sir David is survived by his wife and five children.
This article was originally published on The Spectator’s UK website.