There are times when the normal business of parliamentary politics comes to a halt as we find ourselves jolted by a sudden, tragic reminder of what is truly important in life. The heinous killing of David Amess has been one such occasion.
That anyone should be attacked in this way while doing their job is horrifying. That it should happen to a community’s elected representative while they were making themselves available to listen to people’s problems and trying to resolve them makes it all the more so. And that is before we think of the suffering of those for whom Sir David was a father, a husband, a friend – each roles far more important than being an MP.
Sir David was a thoroughly decent man who was liked and respected across party politics. The regular yah-boo exchanges shown on television during Prime Minister’s Questions masks a truth that most people who are elected manage to rub along with – even work with and occasionally become friends with – people of different political persuasions.
Many stories have been told since Sir David’s death about how highly regarded he was in his constituency, as well as from colleagues across the parties who recalled with fondness the personal kindnesses he showed them. My own recollection of him is when we took part in a debate just a few months ago on the subject of ‘Covid Heroes’. Each MP had four minutes to try and do justice to the examples of community spiritedness that were common to our constituencies. Such was his desire not to leave anyone out from the long list of people in his constituency that he wished to thank I don’t think even four hours would have been enough!
There will be many things for which he will be remembered by constituents, friends and colleagues across the parties. However, if we take any lesson from this terrible event then I hope it is from the way Sir David carried out his duties as an MP rather than in the manner of his untimely death.
Sir David showed how it is possible to hold views that are sincere and passionate, yet still be able to disagree with those who hold views that are the polar opposite and do so in a respectful manner which in no way diminishes the strength of one’s own position. He showed how it is possible to be able to disagree without ever being disagreeable. In doing so, he set a fine example for others to follow.
Last week’s announcement that the North-east’s ‘Acorn’ project is to be passed over by the UK Government’s carbon capture and storage (CCS) funding award is extremely disappointing.
This is a ‘shovel-ready’ project, so its omission represents a huge missed opportunity, not only for the North East of Scotland, but also for other ‘clusters’ such as South Wales and in the Solent, which could have ‘exported’ their emissions to be stored in Acorn.
Bluntly, the UK Government will not hit its net-zero targets without Acorn and their favouring of the North-east of England means that our efforts to secure a ‘just transition’ in the North-east of Scotland have taken a grievous blow. For all our sakes, this decision is one which must be reversed, and quickly.