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A reflection on the political impact of the assassination of Sir David Amess.

On 15 October 2021, the UK witnessed the second political assassination in just over five years. Following Jo Cox’s tragic death at the hands of a far-right racst in 2016, Sir David Amess was killed by an alleged Islamist in his own constituency of Southend, making it the sixth political assassination since the Second World War. 

No matter what someone’s political views are, killing a sitting Member of Parliament is dangerous for our democracy. Despite differences in political beliefs, MPs carry out their constitutional duties of listening to their constituents’ concerns and helping to resolve any issues. This is exactly what Sir David was doing; carrying out his constitutional duties and he, nor any other MP, should feel unsafe or threatened whilst carrying out these duties that effectively function our democracy. 

Our political stage has been toxic ever since the Brexit referendum. Jo Cox’s assasination marked the start of this trend, and it has carried on since. Across the UK, our politics have become increasingly polarised with both sides of the debates (nationalist v unionist in Scotland and Leave v Remain in England) becoming more and more aggressive in their approach to politics leaving consensus hard to reach. Images of all the leaders in the Commons coming together for Sir David’s memorial service was heartening to see, but it should not take a political assassination of a decent and dedicated man to bring people together. 

What has been disheartening to see, however, has been the response from some far-left individuals on Twitter who celebrated the death of Sir David. I realise that his record on social rights was not particularly liberal, nor was his support for his party’s destructive austerity policies. Nonetheless, at the time of his death, he was not representing his party nor his views, he was holding a surgery. Wishing death on any politician is extremely undemocratic and celebrating the assassination of an MP who cared passionately about his  constituents is as immoral as it is distasteful. Such hostility has no place in a democratic society, and it is an outrage that some people with opposing politics could celebrate a man’s death like it is a festival.

Nonetheless, reading people’s stories on Twitter recently about Sir David has been wholesome. One user commented on how a constituent complained about having endometriosis, and despite having no knowledge what the condition was, Sir David spent days researching it and proceeded to launch an Endometriosis All-Party Parliamentary Group to raise awareness of the disease and sought ways to support women who suffered from this. He was credited with evolving attitudes and policy towards fuel poverty having sponsored the Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act of 2000. He was a genuine man, with deep religious beliefs and a love for animals, who truly cared about his constituents. 

I hope that as we move forward following Sir David’s death, we all realise that our words and our actions have meaning and carry weight. We should take part in debate, but always with humility and a respect for the other side. We might not find people we fully agree with, but we should engage constructively in debate with them and try to understand their views. After all, that is how an effective democracy works. 


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