Image Credit: Andrew Parsons
Sir David Amess, aged 69, was stabbed repeatedly and died on Friday in his constituency during a surgery he was holding in Leigh-on-Sea. It has been called a terrorist incident. In the aftermath of such a tragedy, politicians from all parties have paid respects to Amess who served as MP for Southend West since 1997, having previously served as the MP for Basildon from 1983 to 1997.
Leading the tributes, Boris Johnson described Amess as one of the “kindest, nicest, most gentle people in politics”. Keir Starmer paid homage to the Christian faith which guided Amess throughout his political career and described him as a “dedicated public servant” whilst also condemning the act and stating that violence against our democracy “will never prevail”. The morning after, both the Prime Minister and Starmer were joined by Home Secretary Priti Patel and Speaker of the House Sir Lindsay Hoyle to pay their respects to the family and friends of Amess, With Patel describing him as a “man of the people”
During his long career, Amess was socially conservative, campaigning against abortion and the advancements of LGBTQ+ rights, as well as being a supporter of capital punishment. He was also an early Eurosceptic and became a vigorous supporter of the Vote Leave campaign in 2016. Furthermore, Amess helped enact much consequential legislation, being most well-known for his introduction of the Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act in 2000, which helped raise awareness of fuel poverty and helped impact UK policy and attitudes on the issue.
Up until 2003, fuel poverty was on the decline in the UK, showing the impact of the Act. Throughout his career, Amess continued to raise awareness and speak out on fuel poverty, especially in relation to his constituency; Southend West, speaking out in the commons as recently as this summer once again trying to eliminate fuel poverty across the United Kingdom. Amess also raised awareness on endometriosis, a disease affecting women’s reproductive systems. He successfully formed an all-party parliamentary group on the issue, to further raise awareness on the issue and help sufferers of the disease get the help they need.
As an investigation is due to take place looking into the details surrounding his death, a suspect, reported to be a British national of Somali heritage was arrested at the scene and taken into police custody with motives currently unknown. The Metropolitan police confirmed the morning after that the attack was terror motivated. The details of the attack bear a striking resemblance to the tragic murder of Jo Cox in 2016, who was shot and stabbed to death shortly before holding a surgery in her constituency of Batley and Spen. Both MPs were doing their duty as effective representatives, meeting their constituents and tragically both lost their lives whilst exercising their democratic duties.
Speaker of the House Lindsay Hoyle as well as Priti Patel have both spoken on the topic of MPs safety with the latter ordering an immediate review of MP’s security after the death of Amess. Hoyle, in his statement on the tragic event, also called for a look into the security of MPs and what can be done to better protect those elected to serve our interests. Whilst the Home Secretary has vowed to continue holding surgeries, with two MPs being murdered in the space of five years, representatives are rightly questioning whether any lessons have been learnt from the murder of Jo Cox in 2016, and what the right course of action is moving forward.