Man of the people. I’ve heard that phrase so many times over the past few days – mostly from Home Secretary Priti Patel during one five minute interview – but it’s certainly a description that fitted Sir David Amess MP perfectly.
It takes something special to stay in Parliament for 38 years – and it has less to do with politics than one would think.
Sir David was the epitome of a constituency MP in that he was more concerned about actually doing things than being someone.
That said he knew the power of personality politics and was happy to exploit that if it meant he could get his message across.
But for Sir David, Southend and its people came first regardless of any differences that existed. He turned a swing Southend West seat in 1997 into a Tory safe seat on the strength of his commitment to the town.
He was a tireless campaigner against animal cruelty and endometriosis. But his great passion was for Southend to be granted city status and he would shoehorn that wish into every Commons speech, regardless of the subject much to the amusement of colleagues.
One of his greatest achievements, in my opinion, is in showing backbenchers across the divide how it should be done by example – with tolerance, understanding, humour and a clear vision of living up to the trust people have placed in you time and time again.
Our paths crossed a number of times throughout the past 25 years – he was a constant presence at the YA’s annual Unsung Heroes awards luncheon during the late 90s and we even butted heads a couple of times over our different interpretations of what was and what was not newsworthy, but he was one of the few who really did passionately believe in what he was doing – a breed I actually think south Essex is disproportionately blessed with at the moment in fairness.
What puzzles me the most about this appalling tragedy is how, out of all the politicians out there who seem to incite anger in members of the public merely by existing, out of all the figures whose mission appears to be to polarise opinion, out of all the opportunist media whores who just like the sound of their own voice and deal in empty rhetoric to increase their brand and profile on whatever national broadcasting outlet they can squeeze themselves onto, the target of this shocking violence should be one of the least controversial figures in British politics.
A widely respected man of the people just doing the job he had been entrusted with for almost four decades.
A couple of minutes into the new series of Cobra: Cyberwar on Sky and I realised it was looking very familiar.
A sunken wartime ship filled with explosives off the coast of Essex and Kent makes a great premise for a drama series except for one thing… it’s not fiction.
Four years ago, Steve Neale, Charles Thomson and I went to the Houses of Parliament to discuss our findings on that very subject with Baroness Angela Smith.
The ship is very real and over the passing decades, corrosion of the hull has made the explosives so unstable that trying to do something about it is now as risky as just crossing our fingers and hoping for the best.
The issue was raised in the House of Lords the following week.
It’s still there, under the water and if it should suddenly go up we had been told that the blast would be strong enough to blow in all of the windows on Southend seafront.
Stupid TV quiz answers of the week
You can always rely on Tipping Point
Q: “That’ll do pig, that’ll do,” is a quote from which 1990s film about a sheepherding pig?
Q: What kind of blood vessel is the vena cava?