Sir David Amess: Conservative MP's murder could put people off a career in politics, warns expert

Asia's Tech News Daily

People who aspire to be an MP may be discouraged from the career following the murder of Sir David Amess, experts fear.

Many may believe the role “seems frankly too dangerous” after the Conservative MP for Southend West was attacked on Friday at his constituency surgery, a researcher from the Institute for Government warned.

Dr Alice Lilly, a senior researcher at the independent think tank, said the immediate concern was the safety of all MPs but the lasting impact of Sir David’s death, and the death of Labour MP Jo Cox in 2016, on politics would also need to be addressed further down the line.

She told i: “If you were to ask yourself would you want to be an MP, would you want one of your loved ones to be an MP, I think it’s quite hard at the moment to say, ‘Yes’.

“So how many bright, talented people, with all sorts of ideas, who want to help others are being put off a career in politics, because it just seems, frankly, too dangerous.”

“That’s something that should really concern all of us,” said Dr Lilly, warning that it could undermine democracy.

“Ultimately, the House of Commons is there to represent all of us. We want people to think both that they can be represented in the House of Commons, but also that they can represent other people.”

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If people are put off pursuing a role as an MP, the “representative aspect of the Commons really starts to become corroded,” said Dr Lilly, adding: “And that’s just something that means that all of us ultimately lose out.”

Dr Lilly was clear that the priority now would be to address immediate safety issues for MPs.

The cost of security for MPs is likely to go up in the aftermath of Sir David’s death, particularly if specific recommendations are made. A review into security arrangements is underway.

Dr Lilly said: “There are differences of opinion, some MPs think that enhanced security is important, understandably, other MPs are reluctant to adopt enhanced security because they want to ensure they can still easily meet their constituents. So I think a lot of them will be wanting to see what police recommend, what the Government recommends.”

In June 2016, Ms Cox was killed by a right-wing extremist in her Batley and Spen constituency in West Yorkshire but the cost of MP security starting rising earlier that year after police recommended a basic package of security. However, the yearly total has since dipped.

A total of £77,000 was spent on MP security in 2014/15, rising to £160,000 the following year and then to £2.6m in 2016/17, according to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, which covers the costs.

The following year the figure climbed again to £4.5m, before dropping to £3.5m in 2018/19 and then £3.3m in 2019/20.

The Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has said many measures are being considered to keep MPs safe, including asking police officers to guard their surgeries.

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