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Stamford and Grantham MP Gareth Davies reflects on need for more civility following stabbing of Sir David Amess



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In my short experience of Parliament, the House of Commons chamber is rarely a place of poignant silence and political unity across the aisle. Monday will live long in my memory as a day apart, writes Stamford and Grantham MP Gareth Davies (Con).

Like many, when the news of the attack on my colleague Sir David Amess came through this time last week, I stood shocked, dismayed, and deeply troubled. Five years ago, I had the same reaction when we heard that Jo Cox had been stabbed and shot in the street while on her way to meet with constituents.

Monday’s special session heard many moving, but also incredibly funny speeches about a wonderful parliamentarian, father, husband, and friend to so many. We heard about his love of animals, countless stories about his mischievous nature, and his longstanding campaigns on behalf of his Southend constituents. The constancy of David’s smile was matched only by his calls for Southend to be made a city, which has now been announced in his honour.

Conservative MP Sir David Amess with his pugs, Lily and Boat, at the Westminster Dog of the Year competition. Sir David has died after being stabbed at a surgery in his Southend West constituency. Picture: PA
Conservative MP Sir David Amess with his pugs, Lily and Boat, at the Westminster Dog of the Year competition. Sir David has died after being stabbed at a surgery in his Southend West constituency. Picture: PA

Tragedies like this give the public a view of the person beyond the title of MP, but they should not be necessary. Likewise, it should not take the murder of one of our own for opposing politicians to talk kindly about one another. All too often, our society is now geared toward conflict, division and even hate. Those in public service are not held up as public servants, but rather public pinatas who ‘deserve’ ridicule, abuse, and mistrust.

Online abuse, especially of women public figures, is at an all-time high, with hate- filled messages and threats of assault, rape, and even death a regular occurrence. Social media has bred a culture of unsubstantiated and often untrue accusations that go halfway around the world before the truth has time to catch up.

The wider media have a responsibility too. As national outlets compete for clicks, they can all too casually sensationalise and imbalance the true reality of an event. Likewise, politicians of all parties need to be better aware that words matter, and we must set an example.

Gareth Davies MP for Grantham and Stamford
Gareth Davies MP for Grantham and Stamford

All of this has resulted in a bitter public discourse that makes for fertile ground for hatred, abuse and extremism and we must act to stop this.

We must renew our efforts to tackle the radicalisation of our citizens which leads to terrorism and impacts innocent citizens whether they are MPs or not.

We must seriously clamp down on social media companies which facilitate the spreading of hate, threats, and abuse once and for all, starting with those who hide behind anonymous accounts.

But most of all, we must improve civility in politics and society as a whole - appreciating that we can disagree but that we can do so, as Sir Keir Starmer rightly said this week, more gently.

Let’s not let David’s death be for nothing, let it lead to more civility in our society.



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