Remembering Sir David Amess, MP of conviction and animal rights champion

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Sir David Ames was the Conservative MP for Southend West and one of Westminster’s longest-serving MPs. A man of considerable conviction, he campaigned for animal rights, opposed abortion and was a staunch Brexiteer.

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AIIMS, who died at the age of 69 after a fatal stabbing in his constituency surgery, had served as an MP for 38 years. Earlier in his career, he was Parliamentary Private Secretary to Ministers Michael Portillo and Edwina Curry in the eighties.

Ames was born in 1952 in Plystow, Essex, the son of working-class parents. He later wrote of how his modest upbringing made him “determined to achieve as much of myself as possible, despite the fact that I came from a relatively humble background”.


He joined the Conservative Party at the age of 16 and initially trained as a teacher, working at an elementary school in Bethnal Green. But Ames would soon pursue his passion for politics, first elected in 1983 as MP for the Basildon, Essex, constituency.

In 1997, he stood for the Southend West constituency, following a boundary change. He was elected to the seat for the seventh time in the most recent 2019 general election, with a large majority of 59.2 percent of the vote.

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AIIMS was particularly active in campaigning on issues of local importance to its constituents. Only last month, for example, did he speak in Parliament during business questions in support of pension increases for Ford employees before 1997, for “a debate on discretionary increases in pensions for Ford employees before 1997”. Said and emphasized this: “These women and men put a lot of their time into the company and deserve better treatment than what they are bearing at the moment.”

At a Conservative Party convention earlier this month, she met with representatives of the Alzheimer’s Society, supporting their Cure the Care System campaign, saying: “I will continue to work with them on their campaign to ensure that the social Drive care reforms. The government meets the needs of 2,820 people with dementia in Southend-on-Sea, which is projected to increase to 3,760 by 2030.”

AIIMS at Westminster in 1990

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AIIMS at Westminster in 1990

Broadly, AIIMS has been a sponsor of bills including the Abortion (Amendment) Bill (1996–7) and the Protection against Cruel Tethering Act (1988), which protects horses, donkeys and mules. In line with his stand to oppose animal suffering, he also voted for a ban on fox hunting.

In 1999 AIIMS introduced a bill to act on domestic heating in an effort to reduce fuel poverty. His bill passed successfully through Commons and Lords, becoming the Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act 2000, a law whose provisions are now particularly relevant at a time of rising fuel prices.

He is a staunch supporter of Brexit, explaining in 2016 that, in his opinion: “The most worrying development in the history of our relations with the European Union has been the loss of parliamentary sovereignty. More than 55 percent of our laws are passed in Brussels and the European Court of Justice. Majority voting rules mean we cannot veto any law that we think would be harmful to our society or economy.

AIIMS was knighted in the 2015 New Year’s Honors List for his political and public service. In December last year he published Eyes and Ears: A Survivor’s Guide to Westminster, based on his many years of experience, in which he tried to reveal the inner workings of the Parliament and the people working there.

Ames was performing a constituency surgery at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, on 15 October when, according to John Lamb, a local councilor at the scene, he was stabbed “several times”.

Ames is survived by his wife Julia Arnold and their five children David, Catherine, Sarah, Alexandra and Florence.

David Ames, politician, born 26 March 1952, died 15 October 2021

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