November 2023: News from MP Thangam Debbonaire

Labour’s response to the events in the Middle East

The news from the Middle East has been shocking. Thank you to the many who have been in touch – it is always helpful to me to hear your perspectives and to have these in mind as I engage with the government and with the Labour leadership.

Labour utterly condemns Hamas’s appalling attacks on Israel and we are horrified at the impact of the conflict on the people of Gaza, where food, water, fuel and medical supplies are running critically low. We have repeatedly called for all leaders to act in line with international law and for immediate humanitarian access to Gaza. 

Labour is also deeply concerned at the rise in Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism in the UK. I have been and will continue to liaise with representatives of different local communities and am proud of the cross-community work leaders are doing locally.  We must not allow these terrible events to divide our communities.

Hosting Bristol’s pioneering elders in Parliament

At the time of writing this, I am waiting for a bus to make its way to Westminster. Travelling in the bus are some of Bristol’s elders and storied campaigners on their way to Parliament to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Bristol Bus Boycott.

It’s been 60 years since legends from our city like Paul Stephenson, Guy Bailey and my late friend and neighbour Roy Hackett tackled racial inequality head on.

What these men and women did was courageous, magnificent campaigning and was successful in mobilising a generation of Bristolians of colour and allies to push for change, both locally and nationally.

I’m so proud to be a Bristol MP following in this legacy, to have met so many of the campaigners and to be able to welcome them to Parliament, where their efforts led to pioneering legislation – the Race Equality Act of 1965. There is so much still to do to achieve true racial equality, but today we celebrate how far we have come. 

More details about the event will follow in my next article.

Meeting tourism and “visitor economy” businesses in Bristol

Last week I met with representatives from the visitor economy sector—including some of Bristol’s and the region’s best-loved attractions, hotels, shopping centres and venues. 

I heard from business leaders about the issues they are facing as the sector recovers from the Covid pandemic. Some talked about difficulties in recruiting and training staff. Others mentioned the need for good public transport so that people can access these venues. Many said that they felt the current government does not recognise the value created by the arts and cultural sectors. 

I spoke about Labour’s plans to build more houses and improve bus travel, which will make it easier for young people to work, stay and socialise in Bristol. We also talked about my goals as Shadow Culture Secretary to be a champion for these sectors and to make them more accessible and diverse.

After years of disruption, it is estimated that direct visitor spend in the region has recovered to around £2bn, still lower than in 2019. I will continue to support these wonderful venues and attractions that bring so much joy to the people of Bristol and those visiting us from elsewhere.