July 2021: News from your local MP Thangam Debbonaire
So much more to do to tackle racism
An appropriate place for a slave trader’s statue
One year on from the statue of slave-trader Edward Colston being pulled down and thrown into the harbour, the damaged monument is now on display in Bristol’s M Shed.
I appreciate the exhibition of the statue in its damaged state, alongside other objects marking the protests that led to its removal. This, too, is an important part of our history.
Over the last year I have been working with a lot of local groups, activists and businesses, discussing practical ways we can make Bristol a more equal place. There are a lot of inspiring things going on in our city, but racism is still entrenched in our society.
In years to come, I hope we look back and see the (long-overdue) removal of Colston’s name from city landmarks as something which led to much wider change.
Where is the Prime Minister’s plan for social care?
To mark Dementia Action Week (17-23 May), I met several constituents with dementia and their families. I also had a separate meeting with scientists and researchers from the University of Bristol looking into this cruel illness. It was desperately sad to see how the disease affects families – but I came away feeling hopeful that there is real progress being made in early stage treatment.
The government could – and should – be doing more to help people with dementia. I challenged Jacob Rees-Mogg on this topic in my slot as Shadow Leader of the House. In response, he said the government's promised plan would come this year. I’ll hold him to this.
We need a more caring foreign policy
The recent conflict in Israel and Gaza was just the latest reminder of why we should be much more careful about where we export weapons. Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories are on the Foreign Office’s ‘Human Rights Priority List’, where there are particular concerns about human rights – but we continue to sell weapons to many of these countries.
I recently wrote to government ministers asking them to explain this policy, which risks making the UK complicit in human rights abuses, killings and repression.
You may also have seen that the UK has slashed its overseas aid budget, going against international commitments, UK law and the Conservatives’ own manifesto.
I wrote to the Foreign Secretary on behalf of Bristol West-based organisations now being forced to cut back lifesaving work in international development. Labour will push to ensure overseas aid is reinstated.