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, 1 March 2012


The recent punch-up in the Stranger's Bar at the House of Commons is a further reminder of something that is oft over looked. MPs are human!

I noticed it within weeks of being elected way back in 1992. Friends, clients, even family, started to treat me differently; the prevailing view appearing to be that I had, in a moment of madness, left the human race and somehow returned to Earth in alien form. This predated the expenses scandal of 2009 by many years, and appeared to reflect what most people think of their elected representatives: that we are in some way different from the rest of the country. Why is that? Most of us come from ordinary backgrounds: teachers, lawyers, business, even medicine. Very few are from the rarefied atmosphere of privileged backgrounds, yet that is not the common view.  Is it an inevitable part of being elected as a law-maker or is there something very wrong in our psyche in Britain that we need to tackle?

I have heard our Scottish Labour colleague who was allegedly at the heart of the fracas, make a couple of contributions in recent meetings and on the second occasion thought to myself "something is going on there." He seemed depressed and very angry. We now learn that he is going through a difficult divorce. He snapped. I doubt if anybody was standing alongside him because in the hot-house of Westminster that never seems to happen. I do not know of many pressurised professional jobs where there are no human resources facilities to support you in times of acute stress.

He will get no sympathy of course, because of the job he does. At 51, if convicted, he will be thrown out of Westminster and the caravan will move on.

I am coming to the view that the way we do democracy in this country is becoming unsustainable. Members of Parliament have always been lampooned, that goes with the territory, but these days the mood is one of utter vilification. Add that to an increasing work-load, media intrusion, unrelenting public criticism and relatively poor financial rewards and it will not be long before talented people will no longer consider that it is worth it. Indeed, it is already happening. Westminster would then become the domain of the privileged few and those who could not hold down a responsible job in the real world.

The country would soon be the poorer.

posted by Gary @ 09:42