Eight years ago David Amess MP and I were on opposing sides at a debate in the Oxford Union. I argued that religion harms society, and David defended religion from his perspective as a Catholic. We disagreed fundamentally, but we did so peacefully and respectfully.
After the debate, Jane Donnelly and I had a friendly discussion with David about religion, society, and politics. He was a likeable, decent, and honourable man, who supported animal welfare and energy conservation as well as opposing abortion.
In the weeks before he was murdered at his constituency clinic, David supported the Alzheimer’s Society ‘Cure the Care’ campaign at the Conservative Party conference, and he called in Westminster for a debate on ending cruelty to animals.
His savage murder is primarily a personal tragedy for his family, friends, and colleagues. A good person, who dedicated his career to helping others, has had his life ended unjustly in horrific circumstances.
Like the murder five years ago of Jo Cox MP, this is also an attack on democracy. When violent extremists target public representatives, they do so to undermine the bonds of democracy that enable us to shape our future together with mutual respect.
These two murders should remind us that nonviolent democrats, from anywhere on the political spectrum, have more in common with each other than we have with violent authoritarians from anywhere on the political spectrum.