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, 29 March 2012


One of my MP colleagues had polio as a boy and as a result has effectively lost the use of his legs. Theses he swings along under his two crutches cheerfully enough, although we all know he is in constant pain. He is allowed to try and catch the Speaker's eye by raising his hand in the chamber rather than bob up and down as the rest of us do, but when called he rises to his feet and makes his contribution. He has been allocated a room as close to the chamber as possible.

He is one of the hardest working, most effective members we have and does a great job for his constituents.

Yet he could have sat back and lived a life on benefits.

Last week in my constituency duties, including, but not limited to, my surgery, I came across some wonderfully genuine people that it is a joy to try and help. I also came across some people whose attitudes were absolutely appalling: namely – I have a disability so I cannot possibly work and the state must do more for me to help me. I know my rights. We are spending thousands and thousands of pounds a year supporting these couch potatoes, but it is never enough. Yet, in my admittedly non-medical opinion, not one of them was as physically challenged as my Westminster colleague.

About one third of all government spending goes on benefits of one sort or another. Nobody would want to deny people who are genuinely in need this vital support. But surely it is not unreasonable to require them to do their best for themselves, to try their hardest, to meet us half way.

But that is sadly not the attitude that successive governments have engendered. Instead we have created a culture of lazy welfare dependency that is now an urgent priority to address. First of all in such straitened times we can no longer afford to fund such an all-enveloping welfare state. Secondly, because we spend so much on those who could do more for themselves there is insufficient to support other hidden needs in our midst.  Thirdly how can it be in anybody's interests to live a life on welfare unless there is absolutely no alternative?

I support the coalition's attempts to tackle this problem, but I believe the mood of the silent majority is that we need to go further and faster. What do you think?

posted by Gary @ 09:21