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, 28 May 2009


We are still in the grip of a brutal recession. I had meetings over the weekend with two local industrialists both of whom, independently, told me that they expected to have to make more of their Plymouth workforce redundant in the next few days. The business world has suffered a collapse of between 10 and 20 per cent of its turnover since the end of last year, and so they have little choice but to reduce their overheads. If they did not do this then the prospect of moving manufacturing to the cheaper parts of Eastern Europe would look an increasingly attractive option. Although we can hope that the reduction in global activity may well have bottomed out, there is absolutely no sign of any upturn. This can only mean that unemployment will continue to blight us for some time. So, although the national media no longer focus on the state of our economy, sadly we are not out of the tunnel yet.

The TV and press tell us what is important. They tell us what to think and what to talk about. A couple of months ago it was all about the recession – maybe depression. You could not avoid the BBC’s Robert Peston bouncing up and down in front of dramatic graphs screaming wall to wall gloom. Then we were all given an excruciating ringside seat at Jade Goody’s last days, before we were treated to the Home Secretary’s husband’s viewing habits, only to be knocked off top spot by the news that swine flu was about to kill us off in a giant Mexican wave. Then of course the Daily Telegraph unleashed its perfect storm upon the political establishment with consequences that will be far reaching for all of us, both positive and negative.

All the time the recession was still out there, lurking in the shadows, but you would not have known that from national media coverage. Despite the scorching we have all had in the past few weeks, I am glad we have a free press. I have been to plenty of countries where they do not and the people would willingly swap with us. But I am beginning to wonder if our media has become too all-controlling. In the end, with all of our imperfections, politicians are accountable to the electorate. But to whom is the media accountable? A little more balance please; but then, since when did being fair sell newspapers?

posted by Gary @ 14:47