I was out and about on Friday, attending a meeting with our local police, when I heard about the appalling attack on my valued colleague Sir David Amess.
I was utterly shocked and numbed to learn that David had been killed in such a violent attack, at the time when he was meeting with members of his local community, trying to help them with their problems.
David was a kind, warm man who I will have very fond memories of. Southend has lost a doughty champion and Parliament has lost one of our most distinguished Members.
Anyone who has a job that involves interacting with members of the public knows that their job carries a level of risk. This applies to police officers, other frontline emergency services and, yes, MPs too.
I would particularly like to pay tribute to Gloucestershire Constabulary, who checked in with each local MP and their team on Friday afternoon. We are lucky to have such able men and women to keep communities safe across Gloucestershire.
They have well established security protocols but are reviewing them in light of Friday’s events. We have seen such shocking events in Gloucestershire before, in 2000 when the then Cheltenham MP Nigel Jones was attacked in similar circumstances to David, resulting in the death of one of his team.
Tributes to David have focused on his enthusiasm for his community but also his kindness and civility. The tone in which we conduct political debate is important.
Even when you disagree with people, be polite and credit them as a fellow human. Standing up to serve your community is a courageous act and that’s why I always pay tribute to political opponents I face at election time, a courtesy that is not always returned.
As your local MP, it is my job to be accessible to the community while also balancing the security of me and my team. A vital part of my job serving you is getting out and about across the Forest, meeting members of my community and helping people with their problems whenever I can – and that is what I will continue to do.