I recently marked exactly four years since I was elected your MP. It has been an extraordinary time to be a Member of Parliament, throughout the EU referendum in 2016 and the snap General Election of 2017.
For me, going from cancer diagnosis weeks after the 2015 election to running the London Marathon recently (in aid of Bristol Drugs Project’s Youth Work) has been a huge personal achievement.
This anniversary has prompted my team and I to look back over our time serving the people of Bristol West, and to reflect on some of the things we have achieved, the policy issues we have been raised, and the new initiatives we have created over this time. Here are a few highlights:
- As chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Refugees, I pushed for the Treasury to make changes which allow refugees to open bank accounts using their residence permits.
- I set up and now chair the APPG on Children, Teenagers and Young Adults with Cancer, which has highlighted young people’s unique experience of cancer treatment and put young patient’s voices at the centre of future policy-making.
- I raised problems with outdated drug laws in the ground-breaking documentary series Drugsland, filmed in Bristol West. I also launched the Labour Campaign for Drug Policy Reform and challenged the Prime Minister directly to make our drug laws fit for the 21st
- Following the Windrush scandal, I was the first MP to hold an advice session with people affected and Home Office officials.
- My team was the first to set up the first autism-focused MP’s surgery event to give autistic people and their families an opportunity to speak to me directly about their concerns and problems they are facing. I am proud that this is has been replicated by other MPs across the country.
- I successfully pushed for confirmation that drug safety testing schemes – such as those already running at some music festivals in Bristol – are legal.
- Britain’s relationship with the European Union has dominated my time as an MP. As part of the Opposition Whips team, I helped marshal Labour MPs’ votes at every stage of the process. I was proud that we won the right to have a ‘meaningful vote’ on the deal and then defeated Theresa May’s EU exit plans three times, by historic margins. You can see more on my European Union work here.
- I called for the UK to declare a climate emergency, which has since become official Labour Party policy and passed a unanimous vote in the House of Commons.
- When Brunei brought in a new penal code threatening to execute gay people, I led a debate on this in the House of Commons. Brunei has subsequently agreed not to implement these laws, though there is still more to do to get these violent laws struck from Brunei’s statute book entirely.
- Over this time I have spoken in Parliament at least 485 times (according to Hansard). This includes questions to the Prime Minister on university funding, drug law reform, school funding and the European Union.
All these highlights were a team effort, involving my team, MP colleagues, helpful policy experts and of course the people of Bristol West who regularly contact me with ideas and suggestions. Thank you!