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.


Wednesday, 30 December 2009

What does 2010 hold for us all? The mystery of life is that we have no way of knowing. We make our plans and resolutions, but events can make mockery of them.
One thing we do know for sure is that we will have a general election. My message on this is simple: please vote. As I constantly tell sixth-formers in regular meetings with them, we must not take our democracy, however imperfect, for granted. We should not assume that because this is Britain, our freedoms will always be with us. If voter turnout continues to dwindle, if we give in to cynicism, we create a vacuum, but it will not stay a vacuum for long. Something unpleasant will fill it.
I accept that 2009 was not a great year for our Parliament. The long running expose of MP's expenses has undermined trust and confidence. But it is sorted now. It was a horrible wake up call and we have responded. We have a new expenses system which is simple and transparent. We have a new independent regulator. A record number of MPs are leaving the House of Commons, some will be prosecuted. Most of us have stayed within the spirit and letter of the rules and are even paying back sums that an independent investigator, applying a different set of rules, has applied retrospectively.
So this dreadful scandal is no longer a reason not to vote. Nor is the argument that all parties are the same. Even if that were true, which it most firmly is not, people still have to select a local MP and I am pleased to say that candidates still come in all shapes and sizes to suit all tastes! There is no excuse not to vote.
Let us all hope that in 2010 the economy starts to recover. But there is an elephant in the room. The size of the budget deficit (we are currently spending £175 billion a year more than we are getting in) and record public debt (racing on towards a trillion pounds) will dominate the economic landscape. Whoever wins the next election, hard choices will have to be made on tax and public spending which will put the dampers on economic recovery. Get ready for a few years of slog.
But even against a gloomy backdrop we can all make positive decisions in our relationships and families. May I wish all of you a potential-achieving New Year!

posted by Gary @ 10:12