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Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Friday, 9 January 2009


Happy New Year to one and all! The year opens with some tough realities about the world we live in. The conflict in the Middle East shows no sign of abating and could escalate. The challenges of the global economic turndown have to be tackled and nobody is really sure what to do for the best. The in-tray of incoming President Obama is full of near impossible decisions.

Thoughts about the coming year facing the UK are dominated by economic considerations. Ploughing into a recession is no big deal in one sense; part of the normal cycle. But the fact that we are heading for recession when there was a prevailing assumption that there will never be another one makes it more brutal. Because the good times rolled for so many years and so many people, businesses councils and even government have racked up so much debt on the back of the no more boom and bust fallacy, the shock of sudden austerity is greater. It will have a particular impact on the young generation who have not experienced this before.

But like the general surrounded on all sides by enemy forces declaring it is a good time to attack, it is time to be positive.

The victims will be those who lose their jobs and we should throw a safety net beneath their feet, and help them all we can. For many people who remain in work monthly mortgage payments should be coming down, which provides an opportunity to strengthen their position until rates rise once more. For those with savings, the season of great deals is clearly over for a while, but so is inflation which eats away at the value of cash savings. Government help needs to be better directed at this army of people who have been prudent. We still do too much for the feckless and not enough for those who act responsibly.

But for most of us, as we navigate the next turbulent year, perhaps we might use these circumstances to slowly shift our habits. We could rediscover the wisdom of saving up for things and relegate our credit cards to play a walk on part only. We could teach our children to save and not to depend so much on credit. We could combine this with seeking a simpler lifestyle and try to live in a more sustainable, planet friendly way. The benefits of so doing will outlast this recession.

posted by Gary @ 10:45