"He was Southend": Tributes to the slain British lawyer

David Amess was a man for the people. He was a hardworking British lawmaker, with no grand political ambitions other than serving his constituents for nearly 40 years.

"He was Southend": Tributes to the slain British lawyer

The shocking death of the man who was carrying a knife to the church where he was supposed to meet voters has raised questions about the security of British members of Parliament.

According to police, it was a terrorist attack. They continued questioning a British citizen aged 25 on Saturday.

Britain's political leaders gathered Saturday morning to pay respects to a fallen colleague for the second time in five year. Boris Johnson, British Prime Minister, and Keir Starmer (leader of the opposition Labour Party) laid flowers in tribute to the lawmaker who had been stabbed to death less 24 hours before.

The murder of the 69 year-old Conservative lawmaker at a regular meeting of local voters has caused anxiety and shock across Britain's political spectrum. It is also reminiscent of Jo Cox's 2016 murder by a far right extremist from her small-town constituency.

After paying her respects at the church where Amess died, Priti Patel, British Home Secretary, said that Amess was killed doing the job he loved, serving his constituents as an elected democratic representative.

Patel stated that she met with the Speaker of the House of Commons and the police to ensure that "all necessary measures are in place for the safety of MPs so they can continue their duties as elected democratic members."

Tobias Ellwood is a Conservative lawmaker, who provided first aid to the officer who was stabbed at Parliament's gates in 2017. He suggested that face-to-face interactions with voters be temporarily stopped, just as they were during recent coronavirus lockdowns.

Multiple stab wounds were inflicted on Amess during the attack at his constituency meeting at the church in Leigh-on-Sea. This is a quintessential English seaside town located 40 miles (62 km) east of London that has been a magnet for those who are tired of living in the capital.

Metropolitan Police stated that its initial investigation had "revealed an potential motivation linked to Islamist Extremism," but did not provide any further details. Officers searched two locations in London as part of the investigation.

Amess was married with five children, and was knighted in 2015 by Queen Elizabeth II. He died listening to the concerns of Southend West residents, which includes Leigh-on-Sea.

Parliament in Britain has direct links to its local voters. They often host open meetings or "surgeries" which are advertised publicly. Amess posted online the location of his Friday surgery.

Rev. Clifford Newman, Belfairs Methodist Church, where Amess was murdered. "And if you go to Belfairs Methodist Church, rather than some ivory tower somewhere else, people feel more relaxed, free and open to him.

The topics discussed at the meetings can include national issues like the government's handling the coronavirus pandemic or more mundane matters like speed bumps for busy roads or disputes over a neighbor’s fence. Although members of Parliament may not have the power to solve the problem directly, they can exert pressure on officials at both the national and local levels.

"I feel like I have lost a close family member. Erica Keane (69), said that she felt that he was part of the Southend family, and was the leader of Southend. He was everywhere. He was on the football pitches, in the choirs, and he was even in the pubs. He was Southend, he was everywhere.

Amess was a well-respected lawmaker. He won 10 of the 10 elections since 1983. A social conservative on abortion and capital punishment, he was an active supporter for animal rights and campaigned relentlessly on health issues such as obesity.

Amess never served as a minister in the government, but he was a fixer and a lawmaker who could forge alliances across political lines. He seemed to be always available for any new politician who came up against the centuries-old parliament.

Friday's murder raised concerns about the dangers politicians face in their daily work. Unlike the high-security measures in Parliament, British politicians are not provided with police protection while meeting constituents.

However, the hatred directed at them has increased in recent years. Many blame the more polarized atmosphere of social media and the political divisions that were sparked by Britain's exit from the European Union.

Tanmanjeet Dhesi, a Labour lawmaker, stated that while we want to be approachable and accessible, there has been more violence in recent years.

Harriet Harman, a veteran Labour lawmaker, said that she would also write to Johnson to ask him to support a conference non-partisan to examine the safety of parliamentarians.

Harman stated that since Jo Cox's tragic death, there have been changes in our home security and in security in Parliament. But, Harman said that they have not looked into the question of how to go about this important business in their constituency. He suggested that he would recommend that Harman consult BBC radio. "I believe we should do that now."

Amess published his book "Ayes & Ears, A Survivor's guide to Westminster" last year. He wrote about Cox's "barbaric murder" and how security concerns could hinder "the great British tradition" that allows voters easy access to their elected leaders.

He said that it could happen to anyone.

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