I RECEIVED an email from Sir David Amess a few weeks ago. We hadn’t spoken for a while. Holidays and staff sickness meant that we would postpone our next meeting, but he wrote, we would “make the necessary arrangements”.
Suddenly, in one barbaric act of terror, Sir David was taken away from us.
The reasons will no doubt come out. Although, I fear we know the motives already, as the police have said the murder is linked to “Islamic extremism”.
The suspect they hold waited calmly for the police to arrive after the sordid deed was done. In other words, to his mind, he had committed no crime.
Unlike suicide bombers, however, he will be able to tell us why he did what he did and in whose name.
What he took away from us, however, is more than just a Knight of the Realm, a Member of Parliament, a father and a friend, he attacked a symbol of our country’s innate greatness and kindness.
Greatness because Sir David was all that was good and open about our parliamentary system.
Kind because he was a demonstration that passion, commitment and love of our country still meant something. In particular in a world where cynicism daily grows stronger.
His background tells the best story.
As Sir David reminded us on a LBC podcast in May this year, he was born in poverty in the East End of London. His father was an electrician and his mother a seamstress and a cook.
She became famous in the City as a tea lady he said, adding that “she wore the trousers in her relationship with my father”. Most married men know what Sir David meant.
He grew up poor and “had a very happy childhood” and never had chip on his shoulders.
He started getting involved in politics locally because as a proud countryman he felt the streets were dirty and that, as an Englishman, was not acceptable.
He saw something, thought it wasn’t right and so fought to resolve the issue.
His childhood and his background provided something crucial: a sense of responsibility and fearlessness wrapped into an infectious bonhomie.
All of this was dipped into an old fashioned sense of duty.
Sir David, of the people, was always with the people.
He never took them for granted.
In fact, he spent his entire time speaking to his constituents, organising events, and campaigning on issues that mattered to both him and them.
As a result, he never lost his popularity. He never did because it was rooted in a deep respect for his people. Each election was as important as the previous one.
The main tool in his armoury was pounding the pavement, door knocking, and speaking to constituents. Put another way, he respected each and every one regardless of how they voted.
These daily exchanges with the members of his constituency meant that he knew far better than any so-called expert, marketing guru or plastic politician what actually mattered.
When he stood up for something, he knew the solidity of the ground he stood on.
He campaigned to leave the European Union for instance. There was never any doubt in his mind that the EU was an affront to the nature of how we do things and how we see ourselves.
Unlike many of his peers though, he saw his role clearly. He was the representative of the people in parliament, not the government spokesman’s in his constituency.
On the most important issues, he knew he was on their side. They returned his honesty with their support and affection.
As a stunned local electrician who was at the scene of the crime said, Sir David is “very well thought of in our area – he fights for good causes and sticks up for people around here”.
He was speaking on behalf of all of us who had the great privilege of having met him.
Sir David struck anyone who first met him as rather different.
Perhaps because of his background and lack of fear, he stated his points politely, gently but clearly. Everyone knew what Sir David stood for. This tended to take his opponents by surprise. Indeed, it was often said by people who call themselves experts that Sir David’s views were quaint and unfashionable.
What they couldn’t quite understand is that in the world of politics fashionable causes are mostly unpopular.
Nations and countries, and this is better understood by our poorer brethren than our much richer ones, cannot be run along fashionable lines. Our millennia-long history, our sovereignty, our way of thinking, our habits, and our dignity should not be subject to the whims of a fashionable and deeply superficial elite.
This Sir David understood instinctively.
He never needed focus groups to tell him what to stand for. He knew because he was of the people. He treated them with the dignity they as British subjects, regardless of class, caste or race, deserve.
In other words, he “loved his neighbour”.
This is why his assailant attacked so much more than just a man. He struck ruthlessly at a deeply rooted philosophy – the rock on which our entire history is built in fact.
We are reminded by such actions that core beliefs do indeed matter.
It is all very well for our more supercilious betters to pretend that these things do matter.
Brutal acts of violence are used to intimidate and subjugate. All too often, such tactics leave a mark. The motives of the murderer, if the police is right, are political and religious. Let us make sure he doesn’t get his way.
The victim, a Christian, killed in a Church, doing his beloved duty, would, in a not so distant past, have been described as a martyr.
For all, however, he was a good and honest man. We will miss him terribly.
Photo by Richard Townshend – CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=86618913