He was reportedly seen laughing and speaking to people outside the church shortly before he was stabbed to death. Here was an MP who wanted to meet his constituents, learn about their concerns and do what he could to help.
Whatever prompted this contemptible and cowardly act, an attack on one of our elected representatives is an attack on us all and on democracy itself.
So, whether we have different political opinions or not, we should be united in condemnation of Sir David’s murder. And we should remember that, in addition to being a politician, he was a husband and a father whose loss will be most keenly felt by those who loved him.
His death comes five years after Labour MP Jo Cox was murdered by a far-right terrorist, an event that he wrote about in his autobiography.
“We all make ourselves readily available to our constituents and are often dealing with members of the public who have mental health problems, it could happen to any of us,” he wrote.
He stressed his commitment to continuing to meet constituents, while lamenting: “We are advised to never see people alone… these increasing attacks have rather spoilt the great British tradition of the people openly meeting their elected politicians.”
The advent of social media has benefited society in many ways, but it has also facilitated a rise in threats of violence and abuse of public figures.
Some may view this toxic culture as a fact of life that those in the public eye simply have to deal with but, even before Jo Cox’s murder, it was clear that the vitriol and hate-filled rhetoric was spilling over from the virtual world into the real one and corrupting public discourse.
Given this trend, it may well be that the legislation of social media must be reviewed. But it is also vital that we all, whether we are politicians or not, resist the temptation to demonise our political opponents and remember that, as fellow democrats and human beings, they are owed a basic level of respect.