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, 23 January 2009


After the wall to wall hype about President Obama this week we are entitled to ask a question: in this complex world of 6 billion people, can one person really make a difference?

The answer is a resounding yes.

It has always been the case that leadership is crucial. The person at the top can make or break any organisation. I think of the difference that Geoff Rees has made as principal of Ivybridge Community College, an outstanding leader who has transformed that school. Would we have won the Second World War without the grit and character of Winston Churchill? Where would this country be now without the sensible shoes of Margaret Thatcher? What would New Labour have been without the charismatic Tony Blair? Yes, the person at the top makes a difference.

How much more so when he sits in the Oval Office? For all of its faults, the USA is still the only world superpower and its influence, for good or ill, extends into every nook and cranny. It has the by far the largest economy; as we know only too well when America sneezes, we catch the flu. Its firepower is still the equivalent to every other one of the next top 20 military nations combined, an awesome superiority. For all of the growth on China and India in recent years, it will be sometime before they can rival the might and muscle of the USA. Only the White House can bring sufficient pressure to bear on Israel and its neighbours to provide any hope of a solution in the Middle East. It is inconceivable that the United Nations would ever act militarily without American involvement.

America’s reputation around the globe has suffered in recent years because of clumsy diplomacy and ill-judged military intervention. President Obama has a chance to put that right immediately. He is far better placed to reach out to the non-white world than any of his predecessors. The impact of his election amongst the black community in every country cannot be overstated. His focus will be on saving the US economy, understandably so, and even that is crucial for all of the rest of the world. But his administration must also try and build bridges and mend fences wherever they can. This too is vital for our children in this increasingly inter-dependent world. He faces many obstacles, but the decisions he makes will affect us all, so God bless him.

posted by Gary @ 11:59