Murder of British MP: farewell to accessible politicians?
The Conservative British MP David Amess was stabbed to death on Friday while holding a meeting with constituents in Leigh-on-Sea. The police suspect the crime was connected to radical Islamism and the attack has been classified as an act of terrorism. The UK and European press discuss how elected representatives can be better protected against such attacks and at the same time remain accessible to citizens.
Don't turn constituency offices into fortresses
The Sun warns:
“A range of measures are being mooted to keep MPs safer, from vetting people wanting appointments to having police at all surgeries. It is a sensible and important debate. But our elected representatives must not be wrapped in so much cotton wool that they are cut off from the people they serve. While constituency offices have to be made more secure, they should not become mini-fortresses. The vital relationship between MPs and the public must not be broken. Otherwise the murderous democracy-haters have won.”
Politics has become more brutal
Amess himself had criticised increasing aggressiveness towards parliamentarians, but politicians aren't free of blame either, Novaya Gazeta's London correspondent Evgenia Dillendorf writes:
“In connection with the division of the country over the Brexit, the dissonance of opinions even at the highest level has culminated in comments about 'treason' and 'betraying one's country'. ... For some MPs, receiving threats of murder and rape has become an everyday occurrence. ... In his recently published memoirs, Amess wrote that the threats had made MPs less accessible to their constituents and had 'spoilt the great British tradition' of voters meeting politicians. He had given his memoirs the subtitle 'A Survivor's Guide to Westminster.”
Bag controls before meeting MPs
The Tages-Anzeiger also refers to Amess's book:
“One section is entitled 'From the IRA to Isis'. In particular the attack on Airey Neave, who was killed by a car bomb in 1979 while driving out of the underground carpark at Parliament, had always preoccupied him, Amess writes: 'Whenever I use that carpark, I can't help but think of that horrendous event'. ... Even now, most politicians rightly emphasise that the concept of meetings with the people must be maintained. However, a tragic incident like Amess's murder will change the atmosphere: police protection or metal detectors at surgeries are being considered.”