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, 19 April 2012


On Sunday Jan and I attended the 60th wedding celebration of my parents who live in Torbay. After all that time together, they remain utterly devoted to each other and it was a moving and joyous occasion. All five of my brothers and myself have also made strong marriages, and I have no doubt that the inspiration we received from our parents' relationship, through thick and thin, is a massive contributor.

My point is that we all need role models. We need people we can point to and say: see, it can work, and look at all the benefits that can flow from it.

 Is there anything more important today in our society today than positive family role models where two people commit to each other to raise a family and stick with it. As someone once famously said: "the greatest thing any father can do for his children is to love their mother."

Perhaps the saddest thing I see week in week out in my surgeries is the impact that family breakdown can cause to children. Of course it does not have to – I see many fine examples of where mum and dad split up but still manage to create a secure framework in which their kids can flourish. But I see more examples of the opposite. Of households in turmoil, where mum and dad are at war and the youngsters get precious little security, love, encouragement or discipline and grow up with a tendency to low self esteem and under achievement.

Stability in the lives of young people is crucial. It is also an important matter for the state because the costs of chaotic family breakdown are enormous. The question is: what can government do to encourage this stability?

Some advocate tax allowances for married couples and although I am attracted to that, I also recognise that many couples that stay together and provide a great platform for their kids never get married (although I never quite understand why) and I would not want to exclude them. It is stability we are after, however it is achieved.

Some advocate early intervention in the households of chaos to try and get them onto a more stable footing and it is hard to disagree.

But really if we are to encourage the kind of stability that life-long devoted marriage can bring we need to find better ways at promoting and celebrating positive role models. What do you think?

posted by Gary @ 09:23