16 October 2021 | OPINION
Two MPs across the two sides of the political spectrum have been assassinated in five years – this is another moment of shame for Britain.
When the news broke of Sir David Amess’ stabbing, I felt shock. It was, understandably, quite unexpected and upsetting news. Then, when Essex Police announced that he had subsequently died as a result of his horrific injuries sustained in such a brutal attack, I felt anger; anger in that a politician had been targeted, and anger that he was attacked for the party he represents; anger at the truth that a dedicated politician of almost four decades, a man who clearly loved his job, was killed doing that job; and anger at the fact that this is the sad state of British politics, its discourse and its standards.
What does his untimely and tragic murder – let us not be so disrespectful as to suggest he peacefully “passed away”, as the Mayor of London did – say about our country? What does it say about what our national politics have become? The division, the anger, the relentless arguments for the sake of political conflict. What is totally shameful is that both sides of the political spectrum have begun to point fingers at each other – to blame each other for the death of a man who was by all means a kind and thoughtful gentleman. All this conflict and futile political division is the reason such a heinous crime and attack on democracy was committed in the first place – as it was with the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox.
Now is the not the time, and nor should it ever be, for both sides to blame each other. Nor should any politician (or any other person) feel threatened in their work for their political views, let alone fear for their lives in carrying out their public service duties. Are the recent assassinations of now both a Conservative and Labour politician enough to make us realise the devastating and pessimistic future of political discourse? Fearfully, I think not. What will it take for us to see that violence should never be the answer to politics or political change? Another person has died serving their country in public service, murdered for the views they held and the party they represented – which is unforgivable, regardless of the victim or their politics.
It is sad to see that, as soon as such a tragic incident occurs, the blame game ensues almost immediately, with one side accusing the deputy Labour leader of inciting violence and hatred against the Government for her “Tory scum” comments, and the other explaining that a politician was murdered because of unfavourable or unpopular policy – and no side is better or worse than the other.
As for other serving politicians, they will be fearing for their lives too. What a sad precedent it sets that MPs – as some are beginning to suggest – should have bodyguards when carrying out their constituency surgeries. Whilst some have said they will continue their casework, others – understandably – feel uncertain and unsure. They should not have to feel as though their lives are on the line; the price for public service should never be this.
Ultimately, people go into politics because they want to make a difference and they want to enact change for the better, regardless of the individual beliefs they hold or the party they represent – but, yet again, another politician has been murdered in the course of public service… these are dark days for British politics.
Rest in peace, Sir David.