By Ben Heppenstall
A South Yorkshire MP says he has had to report people to the police after receiving threats of violence against him and his family.
Rother Valley MP Alexander Stafford was speaking after the killing of Sir David Amess last Friday which sparked a renewed debate over the personal safety of MPs.
Mr Stafford, the first Conservative to be elected MP for Rother Valley, said he has had “numerous threats to myself and my family from insults, to threats of violence, to threats of turning up to my home.”
Last week, Home Secretary Priti Patel called for an increase in security arrangements for MPs. Many MPs have spoken out against this decision, believing it would be wrong for them to not be able to meet with members of their constituencies.
Despite the threats against him, Mr Stafford says it is only a “tiny minority” of people and “the overwhelming population of people in Rother Valley are supportive.”
When discussing the relationship between MPs and the general public, Mr Stafford said: “It is crucial that all MPs are visible and approachable, and I will not do anything to reduce this.”
One way that local MPs keep in touch with members of their constituencies is by holding ‘surgeries’. This is where they have a one-to-one meeting with their constituents. It was at a surgery that Southend West MP Sir David Amess was killed.
Mr Stafford believes that holding surgeries are the “essential job of an MP and nothing should reduce that.”
He added: “I hold a range of different surgeries – either online, in person by appointment, doorstep ones (where I literally knock on doors of an area to see if there is anything I can do to help), and street surgeries where I stand with my A board on a street corner at different locations across Rother Valley.”
Mr Stafford said that there should be more of a focus on people’s attitudes towards MPs both “on and offline” irrelevant of what political party they support.
He said “politicians of all political colours want to do best for their residents, but I worry that over the past few years the tone of the debate has got a lot worse.”
Mr Stafford knew Sir David for almost 14 years. In a Facebook post he said he got to know him when his first job from university was based in an office opposite his.
He also thanked Sir David for helping him once he became an MP: “He has always been on hand to talk and guide me through Parliament offering me support and wisdom.”
Ali Harbi Ali, the man arrested for the killing of Sir David, is currently being held by police under the Terrorism Act.