IAN Liddell-Grainger has pledged to continue to make himself as approachable as ever despite the fatal stabbing of MP David Amess at his surgery in Essex yesterday.
Mr Liddell-Grainger said: “I will not hide from my constituents. I refuse to wear a Kevlar vest, or shelter behind a bullet-proof screen.
“The people of Bridgwater and West Somerset deserve an MP they can look straight in the eye and talk to openly.
“The appalling murder of my friend and colleague David Amess has made the safety of all MPs headline news again. But being visible and approachable is a vital part of the job. In future we may have to be more careful, but we should never vanish into bunkers – and rightly
“We have a responsibility to ensure that our staff are kept as safe as possible. They are not elected and are in no way answerable for any political policies. If anyone has an issue with any MP or a grouse against the system it is wrong – and grossly unfair – to point the finger (or
worse) at the innocent staff in the office.
“David Amess was a delightfully cheerful optimist who believed in doing things the way he’d always done them – for 38 years. So, he advertised his surgeries in advance and held them in public buildings like most MPs surgeries used to do.
“David was no fool. He will have had risk in the back of his mind. We all do. But he did not let it get the better of him. And neither will I.
“I am no stranger to threats. A couple of years ago someone dumped a dead badger on my doorstep in protest at the badger cull to limit the spread of bovine tuberculosis.
“A dead badger wasn’t nice to wake up to, but it didn’t change my mind about the issue. Angry letters are commonplace. Anonymous phone calls happen too. MPs, whatever their party, get hate mail and abuse and learn to live with such perils.
“I have adopted a different way of ensuring that every single voter who needs to see me face-to-face can still do so. I try to operate a genuine appointments system. Ring or write to my office and the team will carefully take note of your problem and fix a convenient appointment
if you need me in person.
“I often visit people in their own homes. It makes life a whole lot easier for them, especially in the far-flung rural corners of West Somerset. I also ring them up, at a time of their choosing, to get their cases tackled as quickly as possible.
“The Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Shelford got in touch with me just after news of the attack on David Amess and offered help. I appreciate his concern, but I have no desire to be chaperoned or protected.
“It is my job to meet people, put them at ease, listen to their problems and try to help sort them out. They may have voted for someone else, but they are entitled to the very best that I can give.
“It is what we all do. It is my pleasure, my vocation and my duty.”