Thangam Debbonaire

July 04 2016

I’m writing this column two days before the EU referendum and by the time you read it we’ll have a result. Along with other Labour Party MPs and members, I campaigned for us to remain in the EU

I’m writing this column two days before the EU referendum and by the time you read it we’ll have a result. Along with other Labour Party MPs and members, I campaigned for us to remain in the EU. Whatever the result, if you want to know more about what this means for you, Bristol and the UK, take a look on my website or contact me with any questions.

Being available and open to answer your questions, help solve problems and hear your views is the characterising feature of being a Member of Parliament in the UK. It’s not something MPs do in other countries, but I’m proud of the fact that we do it here and I hope you agree that it’s an important tradition and one worth defending.

That tradition was put under great strain recently as we reflected on the murder of Jo Cox, MP for Batley and Spen. Jo tragically died doing the work MPs and our staff do every week – going out in public to do her constituency surgery and trying to help people. Jo is a huge loss to Parliament and to campaigners across the world. To give one example, through her work at the White Ribbon Alliance the problem of maternal death became one of the Millennium Development Goals. Maternal death has since halved. What a legacy! She inspired and encouraged me to push the cause of refugees up the political agenda. I will miss her terribly.

My colleagues and I refuse to be frightened into limiting the support we offer. I’ve had the honour of being your MP for over a year and, in that time, my team and I have helped 868 people with varied casework across Bristol West. In the Bishopston area we took on 145 cases, which included concerns about road safety; problems with the Bristol North Baths development; the need for help with travel visas. And that number clearly doesn’t include the thousands of people who have sent emails or clicked on petitions. We’ve tried to reply to every one.

If you have a problem, my caseworkers and I can often help to find a solution – email me on Thangam.debbonaire.mp@parliament.uk or call my office on 0117 379 0980. I also offer appointments at my constituency surgery. Later this year I’ll be holding the first of what will become regular public meetings for people to put questions directly to me.

We’ve had a bruising few weeks, but I believe that remaining connected and accountable to you is a vital part of democracy.