Sir David Amess obituary | Politics

Sir David Amess, who has died aged 69 after being stabbed whereas holding a constituents’ surgical procedure at a church in Leigh-on-Sea, was the Conservative MP for Southend West in Essex. Although he spent greater than half his life within the Commons with out ever attaining ministerial workplace, the chances are high that he wouldn’t have wished it every other approach.

He devoted his profession to the promotion of his constituencies – first Basildon, then from 1997 Southend West – and to coping with their voters’ issues. He had a excessive native profile and was at all times keen to satisfy constituents, promoting his common weekly surgical procedures prematurely.

Amess espoused a variety of rightwing causes. An extended-standing Eurosceptic and dedicated Brexiter, he was additionally against abortion and homosexual marriage and in favour of capital punishment. A few of these issues had been guided by his Roman Catholic religion: it was additionally what contributed to his newer opposition to the federal government’s resolution to chop abroad assist. His devotion to animal welfare led to him changing into one of many few Tories to assist the abolition of fox searching and hare coursing.

David Amess in 1990. {Photograph}: PA

His method was genial, pleasant and missing in rancour or conceit, and he had buddies on all sides of the Home of Commons. When he stood up – as he typically did – to name for Southend-on-Sea to be made a metropolis, the laughter at his native boosterism was basically good-natured. His boyish look modified little over 4 a long time at Westminster and his naivety led to his as soon as falling prey to a stunt by the satirical tv sequence Brass Eye that persuaded him to talk out on the evils of “cake”, a supposedly harmful drug somewhat than a teatime staple.

But he was not a daily rent-a-mouth headline grabber for the nationwide media. He wrote a weekly column for certainly one of his native papers, and was significantly satisfied by the headline “Pope Francis meets David Amess” after he had stood in keeping with 1000’s of others at a Vatican viewers. However he was additionally a critical politician who achieved the uncommon feat of piloting two personal members’ payments into legislation: one on animal welfare – the Safety Towards Merciless Tethering Act (1988) – and the opposite requiring the federal government to implement insurance policies decreasing gasoline poverty – the Heat Houses and Vitality Conservation Act (2000) – a trigger taken up following the loss of life of certainly one of his constituents from hypothermia.

Born in Plaistow, on the fringes of the East Finish of London, David was the son of Maud (nee Martin), a devoutly Catholic dressmaker, who lived to the age of 104, and her husband, James, an electrician, and grew up in a terrace home with no rest room or inside rest room. As a toddler he developed a speech obstacle, extended remedy ultimately curing his stammer and eradicating most traces of a cockney accent.

From St Bonaventure’s grammar faculty in Forest Gate he went to the then Bournemouth School of Know-how and took a level in economics, specialising in authorities. He turned briefly a particular wants instructor at a junior faculty in Bethnal Inexperienced earlier than changing into a junior insurance coverage underwriter (1974-76) after which a personnel recruitment guide.

David Amess at the Westminster Dog of the Year competition at Victoria Tower Gardens, London, in 2013. He was a great animal lover and was one of the few Tories to support the abolition of fox hunting and hare coursing.
David Amess on the Westminster Canine of the Yr competitors at Victoria Tower Gardens, London, in 2013. He was a terrific animal lover and was one of many few Tories to assist the abolition of fox searching and hare coursing. {Photograph}: Geoff Caddick/PA

His curiosity in politics had apparently began at college, the place he stood in a mock normal election for the Revolutionist occasion (key calls for: minimal pocket cash and abolition of homework) however by early maturity he had joined the Conservatives.

He contested the safely Labour Newham North West in 1979, was elected to Redbridge council in 1982 and narrowly gained Basildon in Margaret Thatcher’s post-Falklands landslide in 1983. The seat in suburban Essex was considered a bellwether, swinging between Tories and Labour: some of the memorable tv sights on election night time 1992 was the large grin breaking on Amess’s face as he was declared the winner by 1,400 votes. It was an early signal that the Tories would beat off Neil Kinnock’s problem. “If we’ve gained Basildon, we’ve gained the election,” the prime minister, John Main, instantly informed his spouse.

Redistribution of the constituency’s boundaries however meant that Amess sought a brand new seat earlier than the following election, transferring to Southend West, which had been beforehand held by successive generations of the Channon household – first Sir Henry “Chips” Channon after which his son, the previous cupboard minister Paul – since Henry was elected for the undivided Southend constituency in 1935.

Within the Commons, Amess was a loyal supporter first of his heroine, Thatcher, then successive leaders after her besides the place Brexit got here into play. He served as parliamentary personal secretary to Michael Portillo for 10 years, following him as he moved by the ministerial ranks, from well being, to move, the setting, the Treasury and defence.

Nonetheless, a lot of his profession was spent on committees and on generally solitary campaigns for improved well being therapy for victims from arthritis, bronchial asthma and different situations. Over the past three years he supported improved therapy for endometriosis, a trigger he took up after assembly a constituent at certainly one of his surgical procedures, and he lately supported a plan to erect a memorial to Vera Lynn on the white cliffs of Dover. He was knighted in 2015.

In 1983 he married Julia Arnold. She and the couple’s son and 4 daughters survive him.

David Anthony Andrew Amess, poitician, born 26 March 1952; died 15 October 2021

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