THE most profoundly moving tribute to the murdered Conservative MP Sir David Amess came from the former Labour politician, Paula Sherriff. Speaking on BBC’s Newsnight late on Friday. Ms Sherriff said she had come to know the MP for Southend West during a cross-party visit to the Middle East. “He was the most wonderful man,” she said. “He was caring; he was kind; he was a gentleman and he was very, very funny. He lit up a room when he walked in. He was an amazing man.”

She added that, despite their deep political differences, he became her friend, offering her comfort after she lost her seat to one of Sir David’s party colleagues and supporting her following her treatment for cancer. A tone similar to Ms Sherriff’s characterised all of the tributes to Sir David by those who knew him best: his Westminster colleagues, and from every political stripe. British politics has lost a good man and the rest of the country is diminished by it.

By Sunday morning though, an agreed narrative had been produced by the political classes which comes with its own slogan. This was “an attack on democracy”. There is no nuance and no objective inquiry as to how the entire process of democratic engagement is now threatened by the murder of a politician. Only that, as this tragedy occurred five years after the assassination of the Labour MP, it signified that the country is in deep, moral decline.

I can’t ever be certain of this, but I have a sense that Sir David Amess would have little sympathy for that analysis. That so many people, whose worldview conflicted sharply with his, seemed to have held him in high personal regard despite it all would suggest something different. He seemed to have considered all views, reasonably expressed, as worthy of respect. More importantly, he didn’t seem to believe that a person’s politics necessarily defined them as human beings. He seemed to have possessed an abiding optimism for humanity.

So, let’s consider this “attack on democracy”. It fits nicely into a banner heading and will become a dominant theme of the weeks ahead. There is a hint here of the political elites gas-lighting the rest of the population for not behaving in an acceptable manner. All but a wretched few of the 68 million souls who live in Britain have never considered violence as a means of settling political differences. Yet it’s their behaviour that encourages the psychopaths in our midst.

Social media discourse, especially Twitter, is deemed to have heightened this moral sickness. Yet, less than a quarter of us frequent this platform. Of those who do, a disproportionate number are drawn from the political classes.

Here, it’s perhaps advisable to apply some nuance to the discussion. It’s one thing when some fanatic, perhaps with underlying mental health issues, threatens public figures anonymously on social media; it’s quite another when orchestrated attacks come from senior politicians and operatives against their own. It’s often those whom we pay to represent us in our democratic systems who are guilty of undermining democracy and making it seem ugly and a place where there is no mercy.

In recent years this has been wretchedly evident in the attacks from within her own party targeting Joanna Cherry and some of her female colleagues. By knowingly making false accusations of transphobia against her in public, are they unwittingly making her a target for violence?

When it became clear that Jeremy Corbyn was serious about pursuing a socialist agenda in government he was branded an anti-Semite in a prolonged and orchestrated attack. He’s plainly not and no evidence exists to suggest he is. Indeed, there is much indicating that he has always been vociferously opposed to it.

One national title carried false accusations that he was a communist agent in the employ of the Czechoslovakian state. During the 1984-85 miners’ strike, Arthur Scargill was accused by another national newspaper of corruption in his management of NUM funds. It was plainly false and easily proven to be. Yet even now when his name comes up in political discussion this is quoted as fact. Two very large targets had thus been painted on the backs of these two men; an invitation for desperate people to come forward and make a name for themselves.

This is not to suggest that many of us shouldn’t seek to improve the nature of our political contributions. Some of us on the left who loathe some of the practices of Toryism perhaps need to deploy more care in the words we choose. Several who expressed concern about the moral abyss into which we have fallen spend the rest of the year describing Sir David’s party as being barely human.

This was also evident during the Brexit debate. Thus, working-class people in northern England were branded thick, racist knuckle-draggers who were clueless of the wider consequences of Brexit. No one sought to ask them why or to visit them in their communities and try to understand what had led them to this.

Underpinning their Brexit votes was a complex set of events and outcomes in which they’d felt marginalised and seen their industries disappear and then replaced by a sprawling service sector with low pay and few employment rights. What they saw was the EU endorsing the exploitation of cheap foreign labour and calling it free movement. Who are the real racists here?

Following Sir David’s death, perhaps we should be careful about what it portends. Following the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, another orchestrated narrative emerged from the leaders of the Unionist cause: that the campaign had been brutish and divisive. This was another gas-lighting of the wider population. It flew in the face of the conclusions by the UK’s electoral commission that the referendum proceeded in an exemplary fashion. But the narrative persists to this day.

Perhaps we should be mindful of agendas in the wake of Sir David’s death. And simply accord it the dignity with which he conducted himself in four decades of authentic public service. God rest him.

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