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.


Thursday, 26 March 2009


Does the sad death of Jade Goody, combined with the recession, signal the end of celebrity Britain? In case like me you have resolved never to read another article about the late Ms Goody, fear not, this column is not about her, so much as the public mood that created her. Almost from the moment that Tony Blair entered Number 10 and the countdown to the millennium began, our country seems to have been in the grip of a culture that hero-worships people just for being on the tele; famous just for being famous. We have lived through a decade that has witnessed the birth of the astonishing Hello and OK magazines that give us a photo-centric fly-on-the-wall look into the lives of our celebrities. Reality TV programmes have created so-called stars who go on to cash in on their new found fame. Many young people today, when asked to express their life ambition, answer that they just want to be famous.

My wife and I disagree on this. She thinks that in a recession that people will retreat more into the lives of their celebrities as a way of escaping the harsh realities of the grim economic climate. I am hoping that we will move away from our fixation with personality tittle-tattle and focus on issues of more substance. Sadly, I have learnt over the years that Jan is usually right.

This superficiality has polluted our politics. To be honest, I am sick of hearing about focus groups and opinion polls. This has helped to get us into the economic mess that we are now in – nobody had the guts to blow the whistle on a period of financial irresponsibility that could not possibly have lasted. Nobody dared to take away the fantasy cash cow.

I hope we are moving back towards an era of genuine conviction politicians, men and women who believe in something and present that belief to the public, even if it does not attract immediate support; leaders who tell the crunchy truth even if it is unpopular. I may be wrong, but I believe that most people are happy to follow strong and envisioned leadership, rather than being constantly consulted on every last policy detail.

We face painful decisions in the future about: public finances, pensions, immigration, climate change, to name but a few. These issues can only be tackled by hard-nosed leaders prepared to take tough decisions.

What do you think?

posted by Gary @ 15:50