Andrew Lewer column: Two days in the life of an MP

I have never lost a friend in a murder case before. It is proving to be difficult to take in.

Friday, 22nd October 2021, 3:01 pm
Updated Friday, 22nd October 2021, 3:02 pm
Andrew Lewer MP

As the reports of the attack upon Sir David Amess MP started to arrive on Friday, all I could do was hope and pray that David, the kindest and gentlest of colleagues would survive.

It was not to be.

Thus, the weekend was full of staring-at-the-ceiling moments and what I suppose you could call processing.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Monday, and the return to Westminster, truly brought it into my heart; walking down the corridor in Parliament where I last spoke to him just a few weeks ago.

Listening to tributes in the Commons; attending the service for MPs and Peers at St Margaret’s Church, across the road from Parliament and next door to its big brother, Westminster Abbey. The service brought some comfort.

David was a Christian and so am I and the Address by the Archbishop of Canterbury was entirely fitting.

There will be a great deal of outward defiance from my MP colleagues in the face of his dreadful death, following on from the murder of Jo Cox and other attempted murders, death threats and other lesser but often frightening messages and confrontations that MPs face.

However, there will also be quieter moments, when family and friends express their concerns and worries.

Previously, I have not talked about it much, because I do not want to upset my family, but I get just as much of this stuff as my colleagues do and have had to call the police to look at threats and abuse on quite a number of occasions now.

I might have felt the need to add that this is not just people being rude, or me being thin-skinned, but I think recent events have made that unnecessary.

As some commentators have already pointed out, the issues of the coarsening of public discourse and that of the threat from ‘lone wolf’ attackers are different.

Both profoundly concerning, but different. Unpacking what might be solutions to either, or both, is going to take more time and space than I, at present, have.

Contrast that with the day before the fatal stabbing of David.

On Thursday, I met some residents from St Crispin Retirement Village outside Northampton Museum.

They had been visiting, courtesy of a wonderful social enterprise called Ability Community Transport, run by a local Duston Councillor, Nigel Hinch and his wife, Lynn.

We went to St Crispin’s with the residents for cake and tea and a proper chat about the community bus service.

I was joined by two other Duston councillors, Jake Roberts and Anna King. Their enthusiasm for the bus service was infectious.

The chats with the residents were so engaging and enjoyable, such as with a very youthful 91-year-old who told me her story of how she ended up in Northampton in 1941 after the Luftwaffe destroyed her family home in London.

I then had a personal tour of the village with the staff and came away from that day inspired and heartened by the public service of Nigel, Lynn, Jake and Anna.

My column was going to be all about that visit and reflections about community transport, isolation and how social care is not just about health and very much not just about the NHS etc.

Instead, I just reflect on the lightness and positivity of that very typical MP’s day, set against the dark horror of the thankfully very untypical MP’s day that followed.