Dumbarton Labour MSP Jackie Baillie today paid tribute to Sir David Amess, the Conservative MP for Southend, who was so brutally murdered at his constituency surgery on Friday.
Ms Baillie said: “Sir David Amess MP was a thoroughly decent man who was devoted to his constituency. We shared an interest in advocating for those with learning disabilities. My deepest condolences go to his family and friends for their sad loss. He died whilst engaged in that fundamental service we provide to constituents, attending a surgery to listen and to represent the people who we are elected to serve.
“This is a terrible tragedy following so soon on the attack on Jo Cox MP as she was leaving her surgery. Additional precautions will be taken but fundamentally it is important for constituents to be able to have contact with their elected politicians and that is what we should always protect.”
Today, Tuesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced the Queen has agreed Southend will be granted city status following the killing of MP Sir David Amess.
He regularly championed Southend’s case to be a city during his time in Parliament.
Mr Johnson told the House of Commons he was “happy” to announce Southend “will be accorded the city status it so clearly deserves”.
Sir David Amess obituary
Dedicated Conservative politician who served as Southend West’s MP for nearly 25 years
Stephen Bates in the Guardian
Sir David Amess, who has died aged 69 after being stabbed while holding a constituents’ surgery at a church in Leigh-on-Sea, was the Conservative MP for Southend West in Essex. Though he spent more than half his life in the Commons without ever attaining ministerial office, the likelihood is that he would not have wanted it any other way.
He devoted his career to the promotion of his constituencies – first Basildon, then from 1997 Southend West – and to dealing with their voters’ concerns. He had a high local profile and was always willing to meet constituents, advertising his regular weekly surgeries in advance.
Amess espoused a number of rightwing causes. A long-standing Eurosceptic and committed Brexiter, he was also opposed to abortion and gay marriage and in favour of capital punishment. Some of those concerns were guided by his Roman Catholic faith: it was also what contributed to his more recent opposition to the government’s decision to cut overseas aid. His devotion to animal welfare led to him becoming one of the few Tories to support the abolition of fox hunting and hare coursing.
His manner was genial, friendly and lacking in rancour or conceit, and he had friends on all sides of the House of Commons. When he stood up – as he often did – to call for Southend-on-Sea to be made a city, the laughter at his local boosterism was essentially good-natured. His boyish appearance changed little over four decades at Westminster and his naivety led to his once falling prey to a stunt by the satirical television series Brass Eye that persuaded him to speak out on the evils of “cake”, a supposedly dangerous drug rather than a teatime staple.
Yet he was not a regular rent-a-mouth headline grabber for the national media. He wrote a weekly column for one of his local papers, and was particularly chuffed by the headline “Pope Francis meets David Amess” after he had stood in line with thousands of others at a Vatican audience. But he was also a serious politician who achieved the rare feat of piloting two private members’ bills into law: one on animal welfare – the Protection Against Cruel Tethering Act (1988) – and the other requiring the government to implement policies reducing fuel poverty – the Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act (2000) – a cause taken up following the death of one of his constituents from hypothermia.
Born in Plaistow, on the fringes of the East End of London, David was the son of Maud (nee Martin), a devoutly Catholic dressmaker, who lived to the age of 104, and her husband, James, an electrician, and grew up in a terrace house without a bathroom or inside toilet. As a child he developed a speech impediment, prolonged therapy eventually curing his stammer and removing most traces of a cockney accent.
From St Bonaventure’s grammar school in Forest Gate he went to the then Bournemouth College of Technology and took a degree in economics, specialising in government. He became briefly a special needs teacher at a junior school in Bethnal Green before working as a junior insurance underwriter (1974-76) and then a personnel recruitment consultant.
His interest in politics had apparently started at school, where he stood in a mock general election for the Revolutionist party (key demands: minimum pocket money and abolition of homework) but by early adulthood he had joined the Conservatives.