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, 17 May 2012


We need to find a new way of doing local elections. I am not saying that because my party has just lost control of Plymouth City Council. This is a thought that has grown over the past ten years. I have seen Plymouth change hands five times in my time as an MP and I dare say it will not be the last. I congratulate Tudor Evans on becoming leader and I will work with him on behalf of the city.

Most people vote in local elections according to the popularity or otherwise of the government of the day. This happens every year.
Unpopular mid-term government – its supporters stay at home or vote for a party of protest. You can predict local outcomes almost to a percentage point on the back of national opinion polls. I must have knocked on thousands of doors at local election time over the years and I can scarcely remember anybody raising a local issue. All campaigners will tell you the same thing – unless there is a spectacular local concern - people vote according to their reaction to the government of the day.

The problem is that an election is supposed to elect the best people/party to carry out the job, in this case to run Plymouth. If people are not voting according to local performance of their councillors then accountability has gone out of the window. The essence of democracy is to elect people to make decisions on our behalf and to kick them out of we don't like what they are doing. In 4 years Plymouth went from a failing council to last year's council of the year, but it made no difference. The Coalition Government made some daft decisions and all that progress was blown away. Councillors can always rely on us at Westminster to rain on their parade!

Being a councillor is hard work. We should be grateful to those who undertake this important task. They beaver away in their wards and committee rooms, squeezing their public duties into their wider lives, with little reward and plenty of pain.

This time we welcome Ian Darcy, a newcomer in Plympton Erle. We welcome back Sam Leaves and David Salter in other parts of Plympton as well as Mike Leaves and Kevin Wigens in Plymstock. Thank you to all of our councillors for all you do. It is just a pity that the electoral system does not accurately measure your efforts.

posted by Gary @ 09:39