The appalling murder of the Labour MP Jo Cox has caused shock and revulsion throughout the country and the fact that over £600,000 was raised for her designated charities literally overnight shows how people have been moved by these tragic events.
There are lots of things that divide the different political parties but there is one thing that unites us all and that is a passionate belief in democracy. One of the things that makes our democracy so special is the fact that local MPs are accessible.
Every MP holds regular surgeries in their constituency to try to help people with problems in their lives. From people who have had their quality of life blighted by intractable planning disputes with their neighbours, through to those having difficulty getting sense out of the system to gain the care support they need for a disabled loved one. From really difficult issues involving social services and child custody, right through to the most terrible of tragedies where constituents have lost children in road accidents or loved ones in hospital operations that went wrong. Wherever you might have come from in life, the experience of being a constituency MP is a leveller.
Making sure that MPs are exposed to and empathise with all of these problems is what keeps the system on its toes. MPs return to parliament and can table difficult questions to any Minister. Ministers, in turn, know that local MPs can alert them to problems on the ground. Sometimes new problems are discovered and put right. The way our system works enables a small injustice or failure locally to be translated all the way to the top.
That is why, despite discussion about the security around MPs, it is essential that things carry on as before and that MPs remain accessible. Jo Cox was clearly a talented MP with a great future ahead of her. She had great experience of the charity sector and expertise in international development which she brought to the House of Commons and she earned respect across the House. Her murder is a loss for parliament and a tragedy for her family, especially her two young children. Our best answer to this senseless murder is to ensure that we carry on.