Blackpool South MP Scott Benton slams social media for stirring up hate as politicians react with horror at murder of Sir David Amess
MPs from across the political spectrum spoke of their shock following the murder of Sir David Amess – with one blaming social media for stirring up hate.
The 69-year-old Conservative, who had been an MP since 1983, was stabbed multiple times at a meeting with constituents in Essex earlier today.
A 25-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder.
Cat Smith, Labour MP for Fleetwood and Lancaster, said she viewed Sir David as an “establishment figure” in Parliament, adding: “He had been an MP since before I was born. I would talk to him in the tea room and he came across as a personable chap.
“It’s such a shock because he was such a nice guy. It’s senseless. His presence will be missed next week when MPs get back after the conference recess.”
Tory MP for Blackpool, Scott Benton, said he was “absolutely horrified” and added: “You could not wish to meet a lovelier man.
“It is truly shocking that this happened while he was doing his public duty and serving his constituents.
“This type of despicable violence has no place in society. Whilst people may have legitimate disagreements with MPs and other politicians there is no excuse for violence; or indeed the hate and bile on social media that we receive for doing our job.
“The comments that both myself and colleagues receive on social media on a daily basis are truly appalling and create an atmosphere where these attacks are more likely.
“My thoughts and prayers are with David’s family, friends and staff.”
Police said officers were called to Eastwood Road North in Leigh-on-Sea at around 12.05pm and “found a man injured”.
The force said: “He was treated by emergency services but, sadly, died at the scene.”
Flags were lowered to half-mast outside Parliament following the death of Southend MP Sir David Amess, and as tributes were paid to the father of five.
His colleague Sir Roger Gale tweeted: “David and I entered the House together in 1983 and I regard him as a dear friend and a brave & compassionate MP.
“The loss to his family, who David always put first, and to the House is appalling. But David died doing what David always did – looking after his constituents.”
Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard said: "Today’s news is deeply shocking.
"Sir David Amess was a dedicated Parliamentarian, a stout champion for his constituency, and an incredibly nice man.
"That he should be killed in this way as he carried out his constituency duties is beyond belief.
"My thoughts are naturally with his family right now”.
LORD SAYS RISK COMES WITH BEING AN MP AFTER MURDER OF SIR DAVID
Lord Eric Pickles said the risk involved with being an MP was “part of the job” and that if politicians distanced themselves too much from the public then “democracy itself” would be affected.
The former MP, who represented Brentwood and Ongar from 1992 to 2017, said the slain Sir David Amess had an “open house routine” for his surgeries “because you want to help people”.
“But... if we’re being really blunt, sometimes it attracts obsessives,” he said earlier.
“You need to have a degree of circumspection.
“It’s part of the job, it’s something you sign up to… It’s tragic, it’s dreadful, but it’s not normal.
“It happens and it may be that members of Parliament take the basic precaution of getting a name and address before they see somebody or getting an outline of a case before they see somebody.
“We live in an age where sometimes you have to take a risk, no-one expects you to die, but you don’t expect it to be entirely risk free.
“A doctor or nurse doesn’t expect things to be risk free, even in teaching you’re taking some risks.
“When you’re dealing with people who are very emotional, who feel like the system has let them down, often they’re looking for someone to blame.
“But if we close up shop and disappear behind a security bubble then it’s democracy itself that will be the lesser thing.”
The murder comes five years after Labour MP Jo Cox was gunned down and knifed as she arrived to host a surgery in her Batley and Spen constituency in June 2016.
Her widower, Brendan Cox, tweeted: “Attacking our elected representatives is an attack on democracy itself. There is no excuse, no justification. It is as cowardly as it gets.”
Witness Anthony Finch described seeing someone being taken out of the building and put into the back of a police car.
He said: “Within five minutes we’d been informed by someone who was actually in the building what had happened, and apparently he had been stabbed quite a few times.”
Local shop worker Lee Jordison said he saw the aftermath of the attack, which happened at Belfairs Methodist Church.
He walked to the church from Hicks butchers, where he works, after seeing emergency services, including armed police and an air ambulance, heading to the scene. “[Someone outside] told me a woman had come out screaming on the phone, saying ‘someone’s been stabbed, please get here soon, he’s not breathing’,” the 40-year-old said.
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