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Are we willing to protect our MPs — and democracy, too?

·2-min read
 (West End Final)
(West End Final)

Siobhain McDonagh attended three public events this morning, followed by ITV’s Paul Brand. No security, no fuss, just another day at the office for the Mitcham and Morden MP.

McDonagh, while always busy and somewhat of a force of nature, is no outlier. MPs find all sorts of ways of tending to their patch, from the glamour of opening summer fêtes to the hard graft of advising constituents seeking help on anything from housing and immigration to securing tickets to attend PMQs.

Yet as it did after the stabbing of Stephen Timms in 2010, the murder of Jo Cox in 2016 and the death of PC Keith Palmer who lost his life defending Parliament from attack in 2017, the death of Sir David Amess was an appalling and unnecessary reminder that — amid the rape threats and general cesspit of online discourse in this country — MPs are highly exposed in their jobs.

Of course, the end to online anonymity would not obviously have helped in this specific case - described by the Met as a terrorist incident - nor would it likely have done so in the cases outlined above.

I suppose it is simply helpful to understand that Westminster really is a village. Sharing offices is not confined to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown in the 1980s. Real estate is severely limited in the Palace so MPs and their staff often share space, eat in the same places and decompress in the same bars after the latest 10pm division.

No one wishes to see MPs walled off from the rest of society. That constituency link, the ability to lobby your local representative or simply to ask for their help in a moment of crisis, it lies at the heart of our polity.

Yet the price cannot be that our politicians go to work — for us — and fear for their safety. Or their families feel a knot of terror every time their loved one leaves the house.

Elsewhere in the paper, Richmond now has London’s highest Covid rate as cases there double. Given that the borough was among the best in the capital at rolling out the vaccine to adults, it adds greater credence to the possibility that waning immunity is behind some of the rise.

In the comment pages, Philip Collins tells an under-remarked truth, that politics is not “staffed by bad people deliberately defrauding the public for their own benefit.”

Meanwhile Melanie McDonagh writes that, on the back of the Queen’s climate comments and last night’s ‘Earthshot’ prizes, eco-activism is a natural fit for the Royal Family.

And finally, the erosion of Norms is indeed pretty alarming. The Office for National Statistics’ updated list of baby names that are in (and out) makes for endless fun.

And if you really want to waste hours of your day, have at their interactive baby name widget.

This article appears in our newsletter, West End Final – delivered 4pm daily – bringing you the very best of the paper, from culture and comment to features and sport. Sign up here.

Read More

The Leader podcast: Should every politician have a bodyguard?

Sir David Amess: MP remembered in emotional church service

The tragedies of Sir David Amess and Jo Cox must never be repeated

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