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, 5 April 2012


Have you ever had a bad run, you know, several unfortunate things happening to you at once or an inexplicable string of under par performances? This can happen to all of us, individuals, teams, businesses alike. It is often followed by a purple patch during which the difficulties tend to melt away.

It can happen to governments too, and over the past few weeks the Coalition Government has fallen victim to a very poor run indeed.
It started with the unnecessary consultation on gay marriage which has upset a lot of you, continued through a budget that sneaked in the freezing of pensioner personal allowances as an afterthought, stumbled through the perception of access to Downing Street being up for sale and reached its climax in the handling of the fuel dispute, jerry cans and all. After two years of relative sure-footedness, this series of blunders has shaken confidence in the government and this is now reflected in the opinion polls.

It happens to governments of all colours and perhaps the only surprise is that it has taken two years to strike the coalition. What is the remedy? I have given three bits of advice:

First, as with individuals, it is important to isolate the individual setbacks and deal with them separately. The mixed messages over the fuel dispute should be acknowledged openly and an apology made. People are not stupid and can spot a cock-up when it occurs and trying to pretend it was well handled just adds insult to injury. In relation to the budget, we now have a policy problem that needs to be addressed urgently at the very latest in the next budget if not before. And for goodness sake haven't we learnt by now never to try and sneak bad news through in the small print! Political funding has also got to be addressed urgently and in the meantime we must err on the side of caution and transparency.

Second, don't panic. This competent ministerial team have not suddenly become a bunch of losers, far from it. Some of my backbench colleagues now running around like headless chicken need to count to ten and grow up.

Third, recognise that bad runs are inevitable and will be followed by better days. It is vital not to lose confidence. The leadership of the nation in a time of great turbulence and challenge has been strong and decisive until recently. It will be so again.

posted by Gary @ 09:25