DECEMBER 2021: News from our local MP Thangam Debbonaire
Our democracy is very precious
Confronting Tory corruption
Many of you will have been shocked to see the government recently try to change the rules on standards for MPs. The former Tory government minister who had been found to have broken rules by lobbying private companies, including Randox which provides Covid tests, has now resigned.
As Shadow Leader of the House of Commons I lead the Opposition in standing up to this blatant corruption, both in Parliament and in the media. I'm pleased that the government has backed down, but there is a lot to do to restore trust in the system after this sorry episode.
Why does this matter? It matters because our democracy is precious and any sort of paid lobbying corrupts the systems that are supposed to represent us. There are clear rules about what an MP can and can't do. If we break these rules, we are properly and promptly investigated and dealt with, by an independent and transparent process. This process is regularly reviewed but this should only ever be strengthened, not weakened as the government tried to do during Mr Paterson’s case.
I'm proud of our democracy. My team and I work hard to live up to the seven standards of public life: Selflessness, Integrity, Objectivity, Accountability, Openness, Honesty and Leadership. Lord Nolan drew these up in response to the previous Tory corruption scandal in the 1990s.
I'll keep working hard to hold myself and my colleagues to these standards, no matter which political party they represent.
Bristol’s health system under pressure
As you may have seen in the media, our healthcare system in Bristol is now at the highest alert level, ‘Opel 4’, because of unprecedented pressure from Covid, flu, staff shortages and a backlog of vital treatments.
I’ve written to the Health Secretary to push him to do everything possible to ease the situation before it gets worse. This includes fixing the stalling Covid vaccination programme and recruiting and appreciating desperately-needed staff. The government must also get better at communicating public health messages.
The Prime Minister and other ministers have often muddied the message on Covid, leaving the public confused and healthcare staff demoralised.
I am grateful for the sacrifices made by Bristol’s NHS and care staff over the last couple of years. I know they are exhausted and working hard to cover staffing gaps, just as we go into one of the toughest winters in NHS history. They need our help.
There are things we can all do to take the pressure off the health care system. If you are unwell, please call or use online 111 if it is not life threatening. Look out for friends and neighbours who need extra support, as we all did throughout 2020. Be prepared to care for family members and others who are discharged from hospital.
We should all continue to take health precautions in crowded spaces, including distancing and mask wearing. And please get vaccinated against flu and Covid-19. If you are over 50, please book and get your Covid booster as soon as possible.