It has been an emotional week for everybody working across Parliament & constituencies. A mixture of shock, sadness, despair and anger all rolled into one. It brought many memories back of 2016 when Jo Cox MP was cruelly murdered on the streets as she served her constituents. I had the honour of knowing both Jo & David and all of my thoughts at the moment are with their families – I cannot imagine what they are going through.
It has been very touching to see the incredible amount of tributes, stories and kind words said about Sir David Amess MP. Even a constituent of mine told me that he remembers Sir David visiting his school when he was a child. As we saw with Jo, MPs of all parties had nothing but kind words to offer, demonstrating that the good in all of us is far greater than the evil that took David & Jo away from us.
Since David’s murder, it has been a bit of a blur for both me and my staff as we have understandably had many conversations with the Police about how we strike the balance of providing the security needed – to protect both MPs and crucially their staff – whilst ensuring that we remain available to the public we serve. I have always prided myself on being approachable and visible, and this will always be at the heart of what I do.
However, it is right that we assess security and I know that in the coming weeks ahead, my staff will be making sure that every safety measure is put in place so that myself and my office can continue to serve the people of North Swindon in a safe environment. I therefore want to take this opportunity to thank Wiltshire Police for all they are currently doing to ensure that I, my staff and members of the public are kept safe.
Understandably as an MP you will always have to deal with people who disagree or think differently to you. In fact this is crucial for democracy. I have many meetings and phone conversations with residents who feel strongly and differently to me. The majority are polite and willing to have a constructive conversation.
Yet unfortunately there is still a small minority that chooses to send abusive and nasty messages rather than engage constructively. All MPs of all parties sadly still receive far too much hatred and bile, mostly on social media. This absolutely has to stop – it is putting good people off ever wanting to stand for Parliament and this is destructive for our democracy.
As Jo Cox MP said in her maiden speech in Parliament – we have more that unites us than divides us. We all have the same goals – protecting our country and the people in it, ensuring our democracy continues to thrive for everyone. Whilst we may often disagree on how to achieve these goals, we have to remember that everybody is different and has a right to their own opinion.
So in a week where we have paid tributes to two parliamentary colleagues – Sir David and also the late James Brokenshire MP who sadly lost his battle with lung cancer recently. We are reminded how cruel life can be, and therefore how important it is to treat each other with respect and kindness, regardless of any differences we may share.