Ben Lowry: David Amess was a conscientious Tory MP who always seemed to be smiling

In July 1990 in the weeks after I left school I stayed in London with relatives before starting a summer job.

By Ben Lowry
Saturday, 16th October 2021, 11:56 pm
Updated Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 12:14 pm
David Amess, seen at  the Paddy Power Political Book Awards, in 2015 was a cheerful, friendly personality
David Amess, seen at the Paddy Power Political Book Awards, in 2015 was a cheerful, friendly personality

Despite having been interested in politics for years, it was the first time I visited the House of Commons in Westminster.

As I was waiting in the central lobby to meet my then MP, the late North Down representative Sir James Kilfedder, another MP arrived in the lobby to meet one of his own constituents.

Perhaps noticing that I was looking around he asked if I was such-and-such a person. It was David Amess, the then MP for Basildon.

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I remember the exchange for a number of reasons, one of them being that I already knew him to be one of the most Thatcherite politicians in the house at that time, representing one of the most right wing parts of the country, Essex.

My politics then, aged 18, was a long way to the left of where it is now, and I did not much care for that brand of free market, jingoistic Toryism.

But I recall from that brief exchange how charming and polite he was, and how humble in the face of a mere (as he thought) constituent.

Much later I interviewed Mr Amess in the Westminster area, albeit briefly. I think this happened twice, when I was doing surveys of Tory MPs and their attitudes to the 2008 Obama-McCain US presidential election and later in the run up to the 2016 Brexit vote.

I am not sure where one of those encounters happened — I think I approached him as he was walking in the street along the side of the House of Lords — but I have a clear recollection that he was smiling, as he had been in 1990.

He always seemed to be smiling.

This might sound like typical praise of someone after they have died but it isn’t. Because I can think of many people I have encountered, among them politicians, who I do not associate with smiling at all.

A devout Catholic, Mr Amess was plainly a highly conscientious person, still holding constituency surgeries on a Friday afternoon as he approached the age of 70.

His murder is an abomination.

Ben Lowry (@Benlowry2) is News Letter editor

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