Last Friday we were all shocked and saddened to hear of the murder of my MP colleague Sir David Amess, while at a constituency advice surgery in his constituency.
Sir David was an utter gentleman and my thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and team.
MP advice surgeries are done so we can be approachable and help those who are vulnerable, and want questions and concerns addressed. Just earlier that morning I had held my own advice surgery in Truro.
This terrible incident has again made people ask if Members of Parliament should continue seeing people face to face in surgery-style events. We have to remember that as awful as this incident, and others such as the tragic murder of Jo Cox in 2016, have been, that the vast majority of people in this country are kind and generous and just want to get on with their lives. While I was in Truro at the weekend I was approached by many people who wished to pass on their condolences and were shocked at what had happened, and I know full well that the vast, vast majority of people would never countenance such actions.
As well as holding my regular MP constituency advice surgeries, which I restarted earlier this year when covid regulations allows for them, over the summer I also held a village tour, which I hope to become an annual event, and the people attending these events were again overwhelmingly positive. It is so important that we are allowed to continue these meetings, bringing us as your elected representatives into direct contact with the people we have been elected representatives is such an important part of our democracy.
I recently sat on the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly for the first time and I was struck by in how much respect our own democracy is looked at by some of our neighbours, how the fact that we as MPs can directly meet with our public is seen as a privilege and it is not something we should take for granted.
On a wider scale, as a society, I believe that everybody has to come together and think about why we are allowing society to be in fear of people, we have got to be more compassionate, promote our communities as being good and positive places to live in, and we have got to look at what brings us joy in life, rather than what brings us fear.
One thing that I think we must do is look very carefully about how we frame our debates and arguments, particularly on social media. MPs of all parties get into politics for one reason, to make the communities they serve better places. We are not there to be vilified or to be hate objects. We are people with families who don’t always agree but we are all there to do the best for the people and places we represent. From my own perspective, I do not and never have engaged in name calling or mud slinging, to opposition politicians or anyone else and try to keep all communication as positive as possible, both on social media and elsewhere.
Whatever your politics, Friday’s events were an attack on our democracy. By giving in and changing how we do business, we are letting those who would do us, as a nation, harm, win. As such, my surgeries and other meetings with you, the residents of Truro and Falmouth, will continue and you can get in touch to meet with me via email at Cherilyn.email@example.com , or by telephone on 01872 229698.