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, 13 August 2009


It’s all my fault of course. As soon as Parliament rose I zoomed down from sticky horrible London and leapt into my shorts to go into my local office; the heavens looked down and laughed, the skies opened and the deluge began. I should apologise in person to all of the tent dwellers, the caravaners, the would-be surfers and the hikers. I am sorry to all of the holiday-makers I have since seen driving past me, three children in the back seat bored and irritating each other, windows steamed up, Dad looking cross, temperatures rising inside the car if not outside.

The weather has shown itself once again, in our traditional English summer, to be outside of our control. Indeed, it seems that it is becoming increasingly difficult even to predict it, let alone control it. I have lost count of the times in recent weeks where the forecast has said one thing but the elements disagreed the very next day. Some will argue that this increasing unpredictability is due to global warming, but I blame the Met Office for re-locating to Exeter. They should have come to Plymouth.

We think we should be able to control everything, but we never will. If something goes wrong in our life, we look for someone to blame, somewhere to get redress. That is why in recent years we have spawned so many layers of appeal and the burgeoning Ombudsman industry. The impression is given that no matter how trivial the claim, there is always another level of appeal; I know my rights.

Injustices occur and I encounter them often in my surgery. It is important that public decision makers should be held to account when things go wrong. But do we need more and more quangoes to tackle all this? But I would prefer to put our trust in two ancient traditions: the legal system and Members of Parliament. There is a strong argument for scrapping the Ombudsman labyrinth, saving millions and plough it back into legal aid so people have access to proper justice once again in a modernised judicial system. That way frivolous and vexatious claims get screened out early on and genuine victims get real compensation.

Alongside that we should not forget the role of elected representatives to fight on behalf of constituents when things go wrong. The purists may not like it, but it has the advantage of working very well. Unlike our summer weather.

posted by Gary @ 15:46