THE stabbing of Sir David Amess, killed while carrying out his public and constituency duties in Essex, is truly shocking and utterly despicable.

Members of Parliament have to be able to go out and meet constituents face to face, both to understand their problems so they can act upon them, and also for people to be able to see their local physical presence of Parliament in action.

It is too early to ascribe motives, but this can only be described as an attack on democracy – a violent attack on an MP when at work.

And a cowardly attack, too: constituency MPs are at their most vulnerable when out in the field, away from the armed security of Westminster.

So the safety of MPs is going to have to be looked at. This is the third attack in five years, and only last month, there was a Labour MP too scared to attend her own party conference because her honestly held opinions had aroused so much hostility.

The time will come to learn these lessons, but before then we must express our great sorrow at the death of a public servant in the middle of his duties and in the middle of his community. We feel great sadness for Sir David’s family and friends and also for that area of Essex which will be struggling to comprehend just what has occurred in its midst.