I was travelling home from Westminster last Thursday when I heard the news that one of my fellow 2015 intake of new MPs had been stabbed and shot whilst leaving the venue of her MP’s Advice Surgery. It was a few hours later I learnt that Jo Cox MP for Batley and Spen in Yorkshire had lost her fight for life and had died.
I didn’t know Jo well. As part of the 2015 intake I only had a couple of very brief conversations with her but it was clear that she was both a very warm and caring person as well as a very passionate and effective campaigning MP.
Like many of my colleagues I was in total shock at the news. Whatever your politics, views on the Referendum or any other issues, an event like this makes us all sit up and take stock. It brings into perspective what is really important in life.
But most of all she was a mother and wife and it is difficult to comprehend just what her husband must be going through as he comes to terms with caring for their two small children without Jo by his side.
Rightly, all campaigning on the EU Referendum by both sides was stopped and Parliament was recalled for Monday in order that we could pay tribute to our Parliamentary colleague.
Jo Cox was murdered carrying out one of the most basic and fundamental parts of being an MP. Holding regular surgeries is something virtually all MPs do. It is part of an MP’s job to be accessible and in touch with the people we represent. It can be one of the most mundane yet equally most fulfilling parts of the job as you listen to your constituents concerns and seek to provide advice or assistance to resolve their issues.
It is probably worth remembering that just like Jo Cox, every MP is a regular person. We all have families, are husbands, wives and partners, are mothers and fathers, sons and daughters. Although we may have differing views on how to achieve it, all MPs have put themselves forward for election because they believe in a better world they want to bring about. As part of the democratic process it is right we accept a degree of public scrutiny and challenge, however it cannot be acceptable that MPs are subjected to the level of personal attacks and abuse many now regularly receive, simply because someone disagrees with our stance on an issue, let alone being so brutally attacked whilst doing our job.
I believe it is essential that MPs continue to be open and accessible to the people we represent, regardless of any political stance. It would be a very sad day if we retreated behind a cloak of security, due to the fear of what could happen, that made it harder for people to meet us and discuss matters face to face.
I have to be clear that as far as I am concerned it will be business as usual. Whilst all MPs have received advice to do all we can to ensure our personal security, meeting constituents during my constituency advice surgeries, will continue as before.
As always, my team and I are here to serve the whole constituency and work hard to make a real difference to the lives of everyone needing support. If there is an issue you would like my assistance on then please contact me on either 01726 829379 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, I hold regular, appointment only, advice surgeries across the constituency. Dates of these can be found at: www.stevedouble.org.uk/events