Callum Nathan gives us a moving look at the life of David Amess MP, who was murdered in his own constituency.
A lot has been said about the late Sir David Amnes, whose life was brought to a tragic end in a barbaric terrorist attack as he held a surgery, a symbol of one of the fundamental rights of British democracy – the ability to meet, challenge and lobby one’s elected member of parliament to effect change for their community.
It was in that spirit that Sir David chose not to seek ministerial office, or the trappings of the great offices of state, but rather chose to remain on the back benches of the House of Commons, instead devoting his time and energy to representing the people of Southend West (before that, the people of Basildon) where he was first elected in 1983, emanating the so called ‘Essex man’ and the popularity of the politics and policies of Margaret Thatcher.
In 1997, as Tony Blair’s New Labour swept to power, Sir David made it clear that he wanted to work with the new government where he felt he could effect positive change for Southend West, a town that he lobbied passionately on behalf of. One such recollection from Mark Francois, the MP for Rayleigh and Wickford, was that he saw Sir David writing a letter of condolence to a constituent who had lost their budgie to a cat, whilst others recollected his ability to work across the House of Commons, building coalitions of MPs to drive forward causes that benefited his constituents. Driving forward on causes such as fuel poverty, often seen as a cause for Labour MPs, and on issues of animal welfare, where was one of few members of the house on his own side to support the foxhunting ban.
What has been neglected in many of the obituaries that have been written was his social conservatism, sitting on the right of the Conservative Party. Guided by his Roman Catholic faith, he voted against the introduction of equal marriage in 2014 and making it clear that he believed in life, voting against the order in council that legalised abortion and same sex marriage in Northern Ireland earlier this year. However, despite this, he made it clear that he would respect the law, instead saying that he would show empathy and compassion for those who were coming out as LGBT+. This social and economic conservatism made him a passionate advocate for the UK to leave the European Union, voting for and campaigning for Brexit.
Perhaps, however, his most fitting legacy will be the honour that was conferred to Southend, which as of today, is now a city; a testament to the legacy and the commitment that the long standing MP had to the city that is coming to terms with the loss of a man who for many in Southend, was the only MP that people knew.
*It is worth noting that in the by-election that will take place, much like the by-election that took place in Batley & Spen after the death of Jo Cox in 2016, Labour and the Liberal Democrats have ruled out standing a candidate owing to the fact that as the by election is taking place in the midst of a terror attack, the Conservatives should have an open shot at taking the seat again.
Article edited by Connor Wade – Politics Editor
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