voice for democracy

Stephen Timms, Sir David Amess and Jo Cox

COMMENT: Those chosen to speak for the people are fighting war to protect our way of life – Express

Stephen Timms, Sir David Amess and Jo Cox
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With his senseless death, in one murderous blow we suffer the loss of a devoted husband, a dutiful father to five, and a diligent, faithful public servant. The outpouring of grief is a raw and heartfelt response to this tragic event, and the endless accounts of David’s boundless capacity for goodness are reminders of the severity of terrorist threats endured by those who choose to serve and face the people; as well as the popular appreciation of the positive difference to so many constituents’ lives made by dedicated politicians. It’s a plain fact that, each and every year, our intelligence, security services and police thwart the numerous plots and plans of people like Sir David’s villainous murderer. 
Those chosen to speak for the people, in free and fair elections, are at the forefront of the battle to secure our way of life – Stephen Timms MP was stabbed in 2010 at a surgery, Jo Cox in the street in 2016, and now Sir David. Prophetically, the truth of the words in his book that “these increasing attacks have rather spoilt the great British tradition of the people openly meeting their elected politicians” ring chillingly true in his loss.
I was privileged to know David as a friend, often sitting nearby him in the House of Commons as, with characteristic keenness, he championed countless causes.  After almost 40 years some might grow tired of campaigning, but David, who was anything but weary, retained a buoyant, almost boyish, enthusiasm. From humble origins, he entered the House in 1983 having retained the former Labour seat of Basildon. Epitomising the era’s Thatcherite appeal to working class voters, he was a Red Wall Tory before it became fashionable! In the succeeding 37 years he became a House of Commons ‘institution’ and a tribune of the people in his first seat and then in Southend West.
Sir David was the embodiment of public service – standing in the starkest possible contrast to those who, despising our democracy, stole his life. His public spirit meant that he would never have compromised his direct connection to the people he represented for fear of his personal safety. For him, dedication to what is right was never an option, it was an obligation.
Free from the sense of entitlement which constrains those who believe they were ‘born to rule’, David personified the idea that political office is a hard-earned privilege. Free too from the Ministerial ambitions which encourage some, who could do better, to squeeze what they say and do into a mould sculpted by others – his political activism was as eclectic as it was informed by cast-iron values.
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Sir David’s nearly four decade long commitment to service was shaped by his devoutly held Christian faith. As a man of passion and principle he could always be found defending the defenceless, notably through his campaigns for those who cannot speak for themselves – the unborn and the creatures of the natural world. Yet, David was not a man of few fascinations, from ardent monarchism to adamant Euroscepticism and passionate advocacy of his constituency, he never considered his work done and never rested on his considerable laurels. David always sought to bring his inestimable force of personality to bear on each new new front, being a man driven by duty. In some people, such campaigning zeal might become hard to bear, yet David’s affability, warmth and palpable kindness were so immediately obvious as to more than mitigate any such misconception.  This sheer likeability appealed across party divides and political divisions.
All royalties from his book “Ayes and Ears: A Survivor’s Guide to Westminster’ went to charity, he helped bring 200 disabled students to perform in the Royal Albert Hall, and we now hear numerous accounts of his everyday acts of kindness from colleagues and constituents. 
In an age where vilification has become second-nature for too many, David stood as a reminder of the simple quality of good-heartedness. Despite resolutely held views, he was unflinchingly courteous and respectful to those of all persuasions from all walks of life. His openness allowed the vicious villain who slayed him the opportunity to do so, but for politicians to now withdraw from the public sphere would betray all that David Amess stood for and provide succour to those who stand against us, from implicitly evil Islamist fanatics to those whose wickedness springs from elsewhere.
Let Sir David Amess’ kindness, courtesy and congeniality become a habit amongst politicians, those who report on them and more widely. That would be the greatest gift, amongst many, that he leaves to us. For, it is the security of our representative democracy which matters most.
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