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.


Friday, 18 November 2011


The wind blew and the rain lashed down. Several people were forcibly moved backwards by the force of the wind whipping in from the Hoe foreshore. By the end of the service there was a 4 inch stream of water sweeping over the feet of the gathered dignitaries, causing us to step rather clumsily back onto the higher ground. Umbrellas were useless against the elements. We were drenched to the skin.

And it was all worth it. It was the home coming service on the Hoe for 3 Commando Brigade on Plymouth Hoe on Friday followed by their march through Plymouth to cheers of support from thousands of local people. It was poignant, appropriate and brilliant. Speaking to some of the young Royal Marines afterwards, they greatly appreciated and had been moved by the raucous support of local people. The remembrance service on Sunday took place in relative balmy weather by comparison.

In the time since I started doing this job there has been a sea change in the public reaction to our armed forces. I am not sure what kicked started this into life but it is to be greatly welcomed. People now seem to be able to distinguish between the political aims of a war, which they may not support, and the courage and skill of dedicated professionals carrying out the tasks they have been allotted.

Most of us recognise that war is a terrible, pointless, catastrophic thing. Sadly it has always been part of human history, and there is no reason to suppose this will change. We were all urged over the weekend to become peace-makers, and although much of this work is positive: building democracy, skilful diplomacy and bringing down barriers, we also know that sometimes that means standing up to a bully or resisting an aggressor. Looking out over this coming century, there is little to suggest there will not be more examples of where national leaders, in the final resort, will be calling upon armed forces to defend our freedoms once again.

Ours is a proud military area and this is not likely to change. The Royal Marines are being increasingly gathered in the West Country and Devonport Naval Base looks set to remain the home of our amphibious fleet. It is therefore vital that we retain our foundation of support and respect for these fine young men and women. If this weekend is anything to go by, that spirit will endure.

posted by Gary @ 09:31