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, 18 June 2009


Why does it matter who is Speaker of the House of Commons? It matters because our parliament, though battered and tarnished, is in the end the bulwark of our freedoms in this country. The freedoms we take for granted, the freedom that enables you to walk out of your house right now and travel to any part of the country, without anybody saying you can. The freedom to write to stand on the street corner and protest about anything you like without being arrested. The freedom to vote an unpopular government out at a general election.

Look at what is going on in Iran right now. Almost certainly those elections were rigged and the people who voted for change in their millions know it, which is why they will not let it rest. That could never happen here, could it? No, not if our democratic institutions remain strong. Look at Korea - only 50 years ago north and south were one country. Now in the north they have a Stalinist state where 25 million people live in fear and poverty, while in the south the people are free and prosperous. The only difference between these two people groups is the system of governance. Politics matters; democratic institutions matter.

But to remain strong our historic democracy must renew itself from time to time and often it takes a shock to initiate that change. We have had the shock of MP expense revelations, now we need the change. If we don’t change and recapture lost confidence of the British people our democracy will not endure. It is as simple as that.

The new Speaker will over see a period of change: new rules on pay and conditions, long overdue, better scrutiny by the House of legislation, a more effective way of holding the executive to account, less control from the whips..

This person must enjoy respect and trust from all sides of the House. It is quite likely that after the next election there will be many new faces at Westminster, a great opportunity to throw out arcane practices and usher in more efficient ones. The new Speaker will oversee that process over the next 10 months. If we can make the House of Commons more effective, our democracy and your freedoms will be secure for another generation.

So the vote on Monday is more than just a Westminster village occasion – it is a matter for all of us.

posted by Gary @ 16:17