Bristol mourns former MP Doug Naysmith

Labour politician Doug Naysmith, who died last month, has been praised as “modest and genuine” and a man of high principle.

Dr Naysmith, who was Labour MP for Bristol North West for 13 years, died aged 82.

His successor in Bristol North West, Darren Jones, said he owed his 2017 victory to Dr Naysmith’s encouragement.

Mr Jones said: “I was very sad to hear that Doug Naysmith has died.  We first met when he was my MP growing up and he was always a support to me after I was selected to be the Labour candidate in 2012.”

In a joint statement Mr Jones, and fellow Bristol Labour MPs Karin Smyth (Bristol South), Kerry McCarthy (Bristol East), and Thangam Debbonaire (Bristol West), said: “We will miss him, and pay tribute to his many decades of public service. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time.”

West of England Metro Mayor Dan Norris, who served as a Labour MP alongside Dr Naysmith, said he was deeply saddened.

“Doug was an honourable, charismatic and charming MP and Bristol City Councillor colleague. Very capable, yet modest, Doug genuinely cared about those he represented, was of high principle, a straight dealing individual and great fun. I will remember him with respect and fondness.”

Doug Naysmith was elected to Bristol City Council in 1981 for the Hillfields seat.  In 1992 he stood for Bristol North West in 1992, losing by 45 votes to the sitting Conservative MP, Michael Stern. 

In the 1997 General Election he won the seat by a landslide, and successfully defended it in 2001 and 2005.  

Darren Jones said: “Doug knew how to set the political drama.  After retiring from Parliament in 2010 he won a council election (for Avonmouth and Lawrence Weston) by the flip of a coin. 

“After I lost in the 2015 general election Doug told me to keep going and we were both delighted to have won Bristol North West back in 2017. 

“He did say though, that politicians with beards earn fewer votes and advised I shaved mine off!  Maybe one day.”

Dr Naysmith had worked as an immunologist and was a research fellow at Bristol University. He campaigned successfully for smoking to be banned in public places.

He was also a vocal campaigner against fox hunting with dogs.

On retiring from the council in 2014, Doug was made an Alderman of the City of Bristol.

There was a minute’s silence at the full council meeting after his death in July  and councillors from all parties gave tributes to him.  A spokesman said: “The flag of Bristol at City Hall has been lowered to half mast following Doug’s death, as is tradition when an alderman passes away, and will remain at half mast until his funeral.”

He had been chair of the City of Bristol Port Authority, and was instrumental in the sale of loss making Port in 1991.

Bristol Port Company’s Managing Director, Sir David Ord, said: “His singular objective was to keep the Port open by encouraging new investment and thereby preserving employment for as many as possible. We and all past and current employees, owe Doug a debt of gratitude.”