"A man who always had a kind word" - Tory party chairman Oliver Dowden pays tribute to Sir David Amess
Tributes left to Sir David Amess at Parliament Square, Westminster. Credit: Alamy.
They say you can tell a man by his friends. And few parliamentarians can have had more friends than Sir David Amess; a constant warm and colourful presence that charmed parliamentarians, constituents and international dignitaries alike for decades.
Sir David was the embodiment of what it means to be a strong constituency MP. He was the voice of Southend, championing its causes and people at every opportunity. Numerous Prime Ministers will attest to his unwavering campaign to obtain city status for Southend, never missing the opportunity to raise it at every parliamentary session no matter how tangential the cause was to the issue in hand.
Indeed, Theresa May once said: “I do not think that my honourable friend has asked me a single question in the House that has not mentioned Southend becoming a city.” It is a fitting tribute to his legacy that his dream has now been realised. But also deeply sad that he has been so cruelly robbed of witnessing the fruition of his tireless efforts.
He was a man who, despite political differences, always had a kind word, piece of advice and a smile for people, whatever their political colour. From the day I walked into Parliament as an MP he treated me as an equal as if I’d been with him for the last three decades. His door was always open for advice or just a friendly chat, something I know he extended to new MPs across the political divide.
Sir David illustrated the importance of being connected to our constituencies and the views and values of our constituents. Sometimes it can be easy to become consumed in the demands of Westminster, but Sir David never lost sight of what was most important as an MP.
One of his former members of staff recalled last week how when given an urgent message from the Whips’ Office about voting the right way on a piece of legislation and potentially getting a ministerial promotion, Sir David simply laughed. But when he heard someone in his constituency was seriously ill, he would call everyone he could think of well into the evening trying to get help.
Following a visit to his MP’s surgery by a constituent suffering endometriosis – a condition that affects one in 10 women – he campaigned to raise public awareness and launched a public inquiry into the condition and its treatment. He never for one moment forgot those who sent him to Parliament.
He was a passionate campaigner for causes he believed in and worked tirelessly across the political divide to deliver change. On animal welfare he was well ahead of his time. And early in his career he successfully got the Protection Against Cruel Tethering Act passed into law.
But above all else he was a kind man. A Christian man. And a man of the people. At a time when divisions are often heightened and the tone of political debate frequently coarsened, Sir David bucked the trend. He saw, and thought of, the good in people. He exemplified the nobility of public service in Parliament.
If any good can come of this numbing tragedy, perhaps we can dare to hope for a little more of his kindness in politics and some restoration of faith in it as a noble calling.
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