February 2024: News from MP Thangam Debbonaire

Supporting Bristol’s music sector

As Shadow Culture Secretary, it is my role to be a champion of the arts. It is a role I relish. As MP for Bristol West, I am fortunate to be able to learn from the experience of Bristol’s grassroots music sector.

I met recently with Bristol’s Night Time Economy Advisor, Carly Heath, who shared an update on some of the challenges our musicians, promoters, and venues are facing. We talked about how declining sales, evolving audience habits, increased overheads, lack of affordable spaces, unreliable local transport, and a lack of support and recognition for grassroots music and club culture are all putting pressure on the sector.

Under the next Labour government, as the Secretary of State of Culture Media and Sport, I will back musicians and all kinds of artists. We will ensure that the creative industries are right at the heart of our plan for economic growth, where they belong. 

In my Conference speech last year, I spoke about the need the right creative spaces in the right places – more studios, art centres, music venues, nightclubs right across the country. If Labour wins the next General Election, I will lead on the work to build a National Cultural Infrastructure Map so local leaders and businesses are better able to spot cultural spaces at risk, and opportunities for investment and development, and leave artists and musicians free to focus what they do best – creating art.

Voting against the government’s divisive anti-boycott Bill

I and my Labour colleagues voted against the Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill at its third reading. 

The Bill risks significantly undermining support for groups around the world who are victims of grave and systemic human rights abuses. It’s incompatible with international law and places unprecedented restrictions on the ability of public bodies, many of them directly elected, to express a view on policy. I disagree with the limits the Bill puts on freedom of speech and think it is likely to be subject to repeated and extended legal challenge. 

Public bodies should be able to take ethical decisions. These should be consistent with their investment and procurement policies and be based on principles that are applied equally to all countries. 

Labour’s plan for NHS Dentistry

Last week I voted for Labour’s plan to rescue NHS dentistry.

Many people in Bristol and around the country are finding it impossible to access an NHS dentist when they need one—with appalling consequences for our dental health.

Of the 456 dental surgeries in the South-West region who had shared an update on the NHS website, 99% are not accepting new adult patients. 80% are not accepting any new patients. In Bristol West, none of the 17 dental surgeries who shared information, are accepting new adult patients. I hear from people almost every week who are struggling to see a dentist. This shouldn’t be the case. 

Labour believes healthcare should be available to all who need it. We will take action to provide urgent care for those who need it, and long-term reform to restore NHS dentistry for all.

Our plan will provide 700,000 more urgent appointments, for people in need of things like fillings and root canals, and will be paid for by abolishing the non-dom tax status. working people need healthcare more than the ultra-wealthy need a tax break.