David Amess's murder shows the need to tackle violence and abuse that's creating a political hell – Ian Murray MP

The killing of my colleague, Sir David Amess was numbing. I had spoken to him just a couple of days before.

Conservative MP Sir David Amess built a reputation for kindness, generosity and decency and was a fun person to be around, says Ian Murray (Picture: Carl Court/AFP via Getty Images)

It has utterly devastated everyone who works in politics. Unfortunately, it’s a feeling I experienced before with the murder of my friend, Jo Cox.

It has caused fresh concern for the safety of friends, colleagues and staff, and took from us an MP who devoted his life to public service.

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David was killed doing what our democracy is all about – meeting with his constituents. It is right that many newspaper columns are devoted to this subject.

He built a reputation for kindness, generosity and decency and was a fun person to be around. He always cheered up committee proceedings when he was in the chair. My thoughts remain with his family and friends at this incredibly sad time.

He was the personification of having far more in common than divides us. His dedication to public service was driven by the simple principle of helping others, from setting up the cross-party parliamentary group for endometriosis to tirelessly campaigning for animal rights.

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The sheer outpouring of admiration and grief from his Southend West constituency shows how much he meant to the residents he so diligently fought for.

This tragedy raises profound questions surrounding the safety of MPs, our staff, and the unthinkable trade-off between personal safety and public service – questions I’ve never wanted to answer.

The first thing I did when I heard of his death was to think of the safety of my staff and close my office.

But stopping public access to MPs in light of Sir David’s death would be letting violence and extremists win. It’s vital that we remain united in the face of the cruelty and adversity.

I’ve always prided myself on being one of the most accessible MPs in the country. I’ve always been driven by putting constituents at the centre of everything I do. To not be at the heart of the community that I call home would defeat the purpose of being an elected representative.

Politics is by nature, adversarial, but we need a more conciliatory politics where rhetoric is dialled down.

When asked for words to describe the nature of politics, many wouldn’t think of compassion and empathy.

It’s those very principles that bind us together. Granted, it has taken something unimaginably tragic to prove it, however it’s a side to politics we ought to reveal more often.

Nevertheless, in recent years we have seen a decline in political discourse, debates are more polarised, and vitriol seems more prevalent than ever, on all sides of the political spectrum. Most of it driven by social media.

It’s clear that we should not only be increasing protection for MPs and their staff but tackling the poisonous language in politics and taking on the social media platforms that turn a blind eye.

Every single one of my colleagues in parliament, including myself, will have experienced or dealt with abuse or violence all too often. It has become a hellish part of a job that I love, but it won’t stop me.

I’m angry we didn’t turn the corner on this with Jo Cox’s death. We must do it now in memory of Sir David Amess.

Ian Murray is Labour MP for Edinburgh South

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