July 2020: News from our local MP
Seizing the future we want
We are at a turning point – how do we seize the future we want? Without doubt, this year will make a long chapter in history books. There will be the world before the events of 2020, and the world after. But how can we make sure that what comes next is the world we want?
A more equal society
Firstly, the horrifying killing of George Floyd in the US and the repercussions in Bristol have shown us how fast attitudes and widely accepted ideas can change.
Alongside many other campaigners, I have been calling for Colston’s statue to be removed for years. The protests a few weeks ago rapidly changed the debate. For many people, it may have forced them to consider the entrenched racism in society, perhaps for the first time.
This represents a real opportunity for change. I know that change is often hard, so we will have to do this as a city and share our views, experiences and ideas in respectful and constructive ways and be prepared to listen to different ideas.
To gather Bristolians’ opinions on eradicating racism and inequality in our city, I have set up a consultation on my website (www.debbonaire.co.uk/my-priorities/black-lives-matter/). Please take a few minutes to share your thoughts, which my team and I will take forward and turn into real action whenever possible.
A cleaner environment
Secondly, the pause imposed on us by the lockdown is a chance to protect the environment.
Many of you have written to me about how air quality has improved in Bristol. You asked me how we can seize this moment and make sure pollution levels don’t go straight back up as the lockdown eases.
This will be difficult, especially as many people are avoiding public transport right now. But a lot of people are deciding to walk or cycle instead of drive. I am also encouraged by the Council’s efforts to pedestrianise some streets in the centre and improve bike lanes.
We also have an opportunity to address climate change and other global problems. Right now, the government is helping many companies through this difficult time with grants and loans. In many cases, I believe this support should be conditional on environmental improvements. Your taxes should not bail out industries which destroy the environment for profit.
I will keep pressing for this. At a time when countries around the world are racing to become world leaders in low-carbon technologies, moving our economy away from polluting energy is just good business sense.
More attention on what’s important
Lastly, I think the virus is also forcing us all to appreciate a simple fact - if we don’t look after the least advantaged in our society, then we all suffer. As this has become clear, the Labour Party has successfully called for policies which help others, including more support for people who have lost work, food for hungry children during the school holidays and emergency housing for homeless people.
These government schemes are far from perfect. Indeed, many of you have contacted me because you have been unable to get the support you need, and I will continue to fight for changes. But the existence of some of these policies makes me hopeful.