Politically Speaking by Yvette Cooper: We will never let terrorists or extremists win

The terrible news that Sir David Amess had been killed while trying to help people in his constituency has shocked the country.

Friday, 22nd October 2021, 12:30 pm
SHOCK TO THE COUNTRY: Sir David Amess killed while trying to help people in his constituency. Photo: Getty Images

David was one of the friendliest people you could ever meet and everyone’s hearts will go out to his family and friends.

For us in West Yorkshire it also brings back the saddest of memories of losing Jo Cox in her Batley and Spen constituency five years ago.

Jo’s sister Kim spoke powerfully in parliament this week about how devastating it is for the whole community having to go through this.

The attack is being investigated as terrorism.

We can’t speculate on the details of this case in advance of a trial.

But we know that terrorists and extremists always try to divide us, to stoke fear in people’s hearts, to undermine democracy and to pit us against each other.

But we will never let terrorists or extremists win.

When they seek to divide us, that is when we come together to stand up for our democratic values and our faith in common decency.

When they seek to gain notoriety and fame for their vile acts, we focus instead on those we have lost and their families who need our support.

Since Friday we have seen that across the country.

People have been coming together from across political divides to pay tribute to David and to show love to his family.

I have been keeping Jo Cox’s words in mind; “We have more in common than that which divides us.”

Those words seem more important now than ever.

David and I were from different political parties, and had many different ideas, but we worked together on issues we cared about in common including support for vulnerable children and animal welfare and I spoke in parliament to pay tribute to him this week.

Our parliamentary offices were nearby to each other and we would joke about his enthusiasm for wild and wonderful Christmas decorations that he spread along the corridors each year.

That is the point of democracy that extremists will never understand – we can argue strongly about different issues and policies but we also show respect and kindness and we recognise the things we have in common.

Rightly, the police and security services are pursuing a strong response to this awful attack and looking to see what more needs to be done to prevent extremism and terror attacks.

And rightly , we as MPs are getting on with our jobs – working to help people, meeting up with people in town or in our surgeries and chatting about the problems they face.

For me that meant on Saturday morning being out in Castleford as normal talking to people about the regeneration plans we have been working on for the town.

David’s family have called for public unity and for people, whatever their differences to show kindness and love to all.

That is the message we should heed right now as it is why hateful extremists will never prevail.

Whatever the issues we rightly debate and disagree about, we can also remember the things we have in common and show each other kindness.

That is how democracy endures.