I’ve got a message for the person who smashed the window to my shopfront: There’s a better way to make your views heard – come and talk to me!
I’ve never spoken publicly about the warnings I get from police about my safety because I’m very well aware that people right across our community face threats spanning domestic violence to racism and I am lucky enough to have the kind of extra attention from police that they dream of. But I’m also aware that a threat against your MP is also a threat against the voice our whole community has in parliament and beyond.
As a consequence of my increased role in the Brexit debate, our amazing local police carried out a review of security and recommended that we fit strengthened glass to the shopfront and various other adaptations too. It’s why we returned the ‘No Place For Hate’ poster to the window as it felt like we needed reminding of it. It’s an irony that that’s the window that’s been smashed.
Several times in recent months I’ve been asked to consider moving to a more secure location. I can’t. I can only do this job as I am, and central to that is being totally accessible to everyone throughout our community. I’d rather give up the job than an office that is available for anyone to walk into that needs a helping hand or simply to say hello to their MP. I simply won’t do it.
Who knows why someone does this kind of thing. Maybe it was a stupid prank, maybe it was a political message, or who knows it could have been an accident. But I hope whoever did it will bear two things in mind:
Firstly, this isn’t just my office it’s also the workplace for the most caring and hardworking group of people around, all of whom turn up every day trying their best to make our community a better place and support people in desperate need…they’re not pesky politicians like me!
And secondly, right next to that window there is a door. Wouldn’t it be better for you to walk through it when I’m there and speak to me about whatever makes you angry? Whatever you think today, that door is still open for you just as it is for everyone who lives here too.