David Amess was a 'one on one person' says Lord Jeffrey Archer
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The former politician and Baron of Weston-super-Mare was friends with the late David Amess, 69, who was stabbed at his constituency surgery at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea on Friday. As tributes continue to flood in from across parties, and a debate of tighter protective regulations for MPs is discussed, Archer appeared on BBC Breakfast to talk to Dan Walker and Sally Nugent about Amess. He argued the MP for Southend West would have hated not being able to speak “one on one” with constituents.
“He was quintessentially a House of Commons man, he loved the House of Commons,” the 81-year-old stated.
“He loved to use it for his constituents and he was quite cunning in that, I’m sure you’ve seen members of parliament saying at question time ‘Does the Prime Minister agree with me that’ – not David.
“He would get up and say ‘Does the Prime Minister realise that my wife suggested at breakfast that what the government should do…’
“And that way, he captured the whole house but he did it with a purpose.”
Archer continued: “The moment he got silence, he then hammered home whatever cause he believed in.
“And he was a passionate man about causes and the problems of his constituents.”
“How do you think he would have felt about some of the suggestions being made about potentially meeting constituents behind screens?” asked BBC host Dan Walker.
He added: “About having permanent security for MPs about maybe even a police presence?”
“He’d have hated it,” Archer answered. “He was a one-on-one person.
“If you walked down the street with him, and during elections, I walked down the street with many members of parliament, sometimes they knew the member’s name, sometimes they recognised the member.
“With David, they just swarmed up and said ‘Oh, thank you for helping my grandmother with her operation, oh thank you for coming to the local school’.
“They knew him and loved him – he had what is known in the trade as a strong personal vote.”
“Do you think things are very different to when you were an MP, for example? And have things been accelerated by the likes of social media?” Walker asked.
“Well certainly when I was a Member of Parliament 50 years ago, no one would have believed that this conversation was even possible,” Archer replied.
“You’d talk to your constituents, one-on-one, you listened to your constituents, you got in touch if it was appropriate with a local councillor, someone at the hospital who it affected.
“It would never have crossed my mind. And one of the things that I felt overnight – who would want to harm David Amess?
“He was a jolly, happy, nice fellow – I never met anyone on any side of the House – and one of the good things that’s come out of this terrible business, is how you have seen the Labour Party, the Liberal Party, independent councillors in Southend-On-Sea, saying how much they admired him.
“One of the saddest things of all, is he isn’t alive to see how much he was respected, and how much he was loved.”
BBC Breakfast airs daily at 6am on BBC One.
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