This week’s column is one of the hardest I have had to write, reflecting on the tragic events of last Friday and the killing of another MP just going about his job, holding his regular surgery. After the horrific murder of Jo Cox back in 2016 I had always assumed, for no good reason, that it couldn’t and wouldn’t happen again. Well, now it has.
I would like to say thank you to all those constituents who have been in touch over the course of the last week to express their condolences. The most commonly repeated theme has been, “please keep yourself safe”. I have decided to resume the practice of holding my surgeries over zoom or by telephone, as I did throughout the pandemic. I know other colleagues will take different decisions, and make the point that they prefer to do surgeries in person. Make no mistake, we all prefer to do surgeries in person, but I will not put my staff at risk, I do not expect our busy Police to provide some sort of bodyguard service, and I am not going to ask the tax payer to fund a burly security guard at the door.
We discovered during covid just how efficient and easy zoom surgeries could be, of course we will make provision for those who cannot use computers, there is always the telephone, and for those who are hard of hearing or have some other disability we will make it work somehow. To the one individual who has contacted me demanding that I do not “hide” from the electorate, I have a very straightforward message. Taking reasonable precautions for myself and my staff is not “hiding”. I will still be found out and about in the constituency just as publicly, but without advertising to anyone in advance that at midday next Friday I will be in a specific location. I will still attend the same sort of events I always have, visit the schools, businesses, organisations I always did, but I will be a great deal more circumspect in this column and on social media, telling people where I have been, not where I am going.
On which note, many thanks to our local MYP Dmitrijs Meiksans for hosting a great coffee morning last Saturday telling people about all his work over his term as Test Valley’s Member of the Youth Parliament. It was great to come together with people, including Andover Labour Party and reflect that we have a great deal more in common than that which divides us.