YOU’D be hard pushed to find a photograph of Sir David Amess MP not smiling.
Endearingly cheerful, he was that increasingly rare creature among MPs, a dedicated servant to grass-roots politics, utterly selfless and devoid of ego.
He was accessible to all. And yet, it was that very accessibility that cost him his life at the hands of a dead-eyed, suspected terrorist who apparently stabbed him 17 times.
Since this heinous, murderous act on Friday, there has been much talk about toning down some of the vicious mud-slinging that peppers political discourse these days, and that’s certainly an issue that needs addressing urgently.
But it has nothing to do with what happened to Sir David at Belfairs Methodist Church, Leigh-on-Sea in Essex, and we must not conflate the two.
This was a seemingly random act of cold-blooded murder reminiscent of the London Bridge killings, when terrorist Usman Khan fatally stabbed Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones, two innocent young people who were actually helping him on a prisoner rehabilitation scheme.
Just like Sir David, they were kindly souls who saw the good in people and whose trust in humanity was fatally abused.
In a powerful statement his family called for people to “set aside hatred”, adding: “Nobody should die in that way. Nobody. Whatever one’s race, religious or political beliefs, be tolerant and try to understand.
“We are absolutely broken, but we will survive and carry on for the sake of a wonderful and inspiring man.”
Other politicians have vowed to carry on with their constituency surgeries because, otherwise, terrorism will win. Also because their meetings with the public are a vital part of the democratic process.
It is a noble declaration but, going forward, the time has surely come for far stricter security measures to be put in place for MPs at any advertised, face-to- face events involving the public.
Yes, we must remember that the majority of people are fundamentally good but, equally, it must surely now be in the back of every MP’s mind that they don’t want their family to be the next to get that terrible call.
Following 9/11, we all accepted that security became tighter when boarding a plane, and having our bags searched is now routine, along with scanners and body pat-downs if the beeper goes off.
Similarly, it’s now the norm to have your bag or pockets searched before entry to theatres, rock concerts and nightclubs.
So, at the very least, the security measures introduced at constituency surgeries should be pre-booked appointments only for a face-to-face meeting with your MP and an acceptance that you could be vetted beforehand.
Then, on arrival, any coats and bags will be searched, and a local “bouncer” will be employed (by the taxpayer) to be on hand in case any trouble breaks out.
EXTREMISM UNCHECKED DURING LOCKDOWN
If you think it would be too much to ask of Mrs Smith of Acacia Avenue when she comes to meet her MP, bear in mind that she happily goes through security every time she goes for a week to Benidorm, so what’s the difference?
Particularly when these suggested security measures would have saved Sir David’s life.
This, I’m afraid, is the world we now live in.
Young boys are killing each other on the streets, machete gangs are snatching cars and bikes in broad daylight, young women are afraid to walk home alone at night and, on top of all that, we have evil people living in our midst who, given the first opportunity, will wreak death and destruction with their hatred in the most brutal and public way they can.
It will come as no surprise to learn that the anti-terrorism schemes aimed at deradicalising extremists were shut down during the pandemic and most are still operating via telephone calls between fanatics and their handlers.
This has prompted fears that extremism has been allowed to flourish unchecked during lockdown.
This needs addressing urgently, along with updating legislation to deal with the scourge of death threats made online and toughening up sentences as a deterrent to help tackle knife crime.
For all of that to happen, we need our MPs. And they need to feel safe while working within their communities.
TOUGH ACT ON BIG DAY
AFTER every divorce, there comes the time when any acrimony must be set aside for the bigger picture . . . your child’s wedding.
Cut to Bill and Melinda Gates standing either side of their daughter Jennifer as she married in New York at the weekend.
Initial court documents filed by Melinda reveal that the couple didn’t have a pre-nup and, consequently, theirs is being described as potentially one of the most expensive divorces in history.
They’re probably far too evolved as human beings to risk any tension spoiling their daughter’s big day, but one wonders whether it felt odd to watch Jennifer embarking on her own marital journey just as theirs is ending.
THAT'S WHY DOUBLE O GOES TO HEAVEN
BOND star Daniel Craig says he spent his single years at gay bars because he got sick of the “aggressive d***-swinging in hetero bars”.
Fair enough. Me and my girlfriends did the same because the company was great, the music fab, and you didn’t get drunken straight men trying to dance (badly) with you.
Though in Daniel’s case, we might all have made an exception.
AN ECO TRIP OR EGO TRIP?
AN Insulate Britain protester who doesn’t lag his own loft, and now the latest one who went on an 81,000-mile global trip in a non-eco 4x4.
How many of these irritants who’ve been blocking our roads actually practise what they preach?
Probably very few.
Because, after all, it’s not really about making a difference is it? It seems an attention-seeking exercise to make them feel good about themselves.
Now they’ve very kindly announced that they will be pausing their annoying behaviour until October 25.
But one doubts it’s an act of altruism. More like it’s half-term and they’re probably flying off to a gîte in France.
TRYING BLOKE'S A DEVIL
SCORNED wife Sharen Pound hacked into the Netflix account of her husband’s new lover and changed her profile name to “The Skank”.
Pound, 33, of Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbys, has admitted harassment and been given a court fine.
Myself and The Bloke are still married but his Netflix profile is my weapon of choice when he’s getting on my nerves.
Last week – during a calm spell – he was a handsome tiger from Our Planet, but after a minor domestic dispute over the stacking of the dishwasher, he is currently the bloodied “real face” of Lucifer.