‘The advice is not to see constituents on our own’: In his own prophetic words, what Sir David Amess wrote after Jo Cox murder
In a book published last year, Sir David described how he and other MPs altered the way they interacted with the public – particularly in constituency surgeries – after the murder of their colleague Jo Cox in 2016. Below is an extract from the book Ayes and Ears: A Survivor’s Guide to Westminster.
The murder of Cox was still totally unexpected. She had been an MP for a very short time, having been elected in May 2015.
She was approaching the library where her constituency surgery was to be held, when she was attacked and killed in the most barbaric fashion imaginable.
This event took place during the 2016 EU Referendum Campaign and had a galvanising effect on the campaign, the general public and Members themselves.
Tory MP Sir David Amess at his constituency surgery in Southend, Essex
My colleague Mark Francois alerted me to the attack, at which time he was unaware that Jo had actually died. She was a young woman with a family going about her duties as we all do, completely unaware of the threat that she faced.
While it is often said that good can come out of someone’s death, it is difficult to see what good can come from this senseless murder.
Nevertheless, it is to be commended that the Jo Cox Foundation has been established to combat loneliness.
There can be no doubt that as a result of these heightened security concerns most Members have modified or changed the way they interact with the general public.
The Commons authorities have taken threats very seriously and have issued guidance for the safety and security of not only Members, but their families.
This includes security in their own home. I myself have over the years experienced nuisance from the odd member of the general public at my own property.
We regularly check our locks and many others have CCTV cameras installed but probably the most significant change has been with constituency surgeries.
Labour MP Jo Cox was murdered in a similar fashion in her constituency back in 2016
The British tradition has always been that Members of Parliament regularly make themselves available for constituents to meet them face to face at their surgeries.
Now advice has been given to be more careful when accepting appointments. We are advised to never meet people alone, we must be extra careful when opening post and we must ensure that our offices are properly safe and secure.
In short these increasing attacks have rather spoilt the great British tradition of the people openly meeting their elected politicians.
Source: Read Full Article