It is a risk which we must minimise, but continue to take for the sake of our democracy - Christine Jardine

Yesterday was one of those days that you hope never to see, or that anyone you know will have to endure.

A photograph of David Amess is displayed as people wait for the start of a mass at Saint Peter's Catholic Parish of Eastwood in Leigh-on-Sea
A photograph of David Amess is displayed as people wait for the start of a mass at Saint Peter's Catholic Parish of Eastwood in Leigh-on-Sea

The death of Sir David Amess was a cruel, heart-breaking, tragedy.

A family man liked and respected across the Houses of Parliament the loss his loved ones now face is incalculable.

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And sadly the manner of his death seems only to add to the cruelty.

Sir David died doing what most of us in parliament see as an essential, but routine, part of our role as elected representatives.

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On a weekly basis we meet people we do not know in our offices, and various venues around our constituencies, to see whether and how we can help them with an issue or to hear their views on the national agenda.

As a dedicated public servant he will have seen it simply as part of the job, despite previous attacks on colleagues and the death, five years ago, of Jo Cox.

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Since then it is fair to say that we have all been more aware of the danger and careful to follow police advice.

My office is secure, I avoid going to meetings on my own, and we have a rule that staff are not alone in the office regardless of the level of protective devices and structures we have.

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But Friday was a reminder that whatever security we employ there will always be occasions when we are vulnerable.

There will be those who now question the open and accessible nature of British political practice which puts MPs, their staff and other elected representatives in such positions.

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However, I believe that it is a risk which we must minimise, but continue to take for the sake of our democracy.

We may be in different political parties and disagree at times, but we all value and respect the dedicated public service that MPs of all parties give to the public.

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I believe that it is a fundamental principle of our parliamentary democracy that we are available and accessible to our constituents.

Even when it is difficult, or dangerous.

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I have been threatened, many friends and colleagues have too. And their children.

During one election I had to hide in a party office and call the police after we were invaded by protesters whose intentions may not have been violent but whose actions were frightening.

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My daughter also works for an elected representative and, when I heard of Sir David’s death, my first thought was to go to that office.

We both needed the reassurance.

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Politics can be divisive and angry but on days like yesterday we are brought together by a common determination not to allow such tragedies, the loss of a colleague, to come between us and the performance of our public service.

We are all feeling a little vulnerable today, particularly for our staff, and the conversations we will have over the coming days and weeks we have had before.

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We all hope never to have them again.

Christine Jardine is MP for Edinburgh West

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