It’s been another busy week representing Bristol East in Parliament.
This week I’ve been working with Bristol brewers Lost and Grounded, who found out on Monday that they face having one of their products withdrawn from shops as a result of a single complaint upheld by the Portman Group. The beer – Running with Sceptres IPA – was deemed to have breached guidelines which say that beers should not hold any appeal for children, as it has illustrated animals on its packaging. While alcohol advertising absolutely should not be aimed at youngsters, I’ve always found one of the joys of independent breweries is their uniquely designed packaging – featuring anything from bright abstract colours to mythical creatures to help them stand out against larger, international brands. It’s hugely unfair that an important local business which is recognised as being a living wage employer is being penalised on the basis of an individual complaint and singled out for something many other bigger brands do on a daily basis. I don’t accept that this packaging breaches the Portman Group’s rules around responsible drinking – your average teenager/ binge-drinker isn’t going to be lured into bad behaviour by a craft beer. I hope common sense prevails in this case and that the brewery is able to continue producing their beer for many years to come.
Show Racism the Red Card were in Parliament this week, and I dropped in to chat to the UK’s largest anti-racism educational charity. SRTRC work with children and make them question the prejudices of those around them as well as challenging misconceptions and stereotypes. Their work is more important than ever and I was really pleased to be able to show my support for this fantastic charity – as well as impressing my West Ham supporting nephews by having a chat with David Moyes!
It was great to see Marvin Rees, who I am supporting in his campaign to be re-elected Mayor of Bristol, on Channel 4 this week talking about the climate emergency. Marvin highlighted many important elements to this debate that are often overlooked – especially how climate change will disproportionately affect the poorest people. From air pollution in overcrowded areas to homes built on flood plains by property developers more interested in profit than people, it’s really important to think about climate change in the context of social equality.
Unfortunately, this Tory Government repeatedly fails to grasp the true scale of the climate emergency and the action we need to take to tackle it. I previously wrote to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs about the timeframe for bringing forward proposals for legislation to end the burning of peatlands, which will act as natural defences against climate change. The response I received this week – that the Government are looking at how legislation could bring this about – was the same as when I asked the same question in a debate back in October! This lack of progress is just typical of this Government – they seem completely unable to show any leadership on the issue.
As dispiriting as the Government’s approach is, there are some incredibly inspiring people working to tackle the climate emergency. Bristol, of course, welcomed Greta Thunberg last Friday, and the number of people – particularly young people – who turned out to see her was a heartening illustration that there are plenty of people who recognise the scale of the challenge and are willing to work for change.
I’ve also felt inspired this week as I joined another phone bank for Keir Starmer’s leadership campaign – this week with the bonus of meeting Captain Couscous, a campaign cat whose owner has taken time out from his business in West Wales to help the campaign. I know Keir will show the leadership we need on the climate emergency and other areas where our current Government is failing – it was great to chat to voters who feel the same.
If you have any issues or concerns to raise with me as your local MP, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 0117 939 9901.
I hope you all have a great weekend!