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, 10 May 2012


My advice is to start keeping a diary, for I feel sure that we are in the foothills of historic events. Politics is volatile enough in the UK right now, but this is a nothing to the events unfolding, albeit in slow motion, on the continent. I imagine that the events at the end of the 1930's had a similar flavour: austerity on the ground, the political elite in turmoil – seeing what's coming but unable to avoid it, and turbulence in the air.

The backdrop for all this is the relative decline of the West and the debt mountain that we have all amassed. The day of reckoning has arrived, ushering in a period of necessary adjustment and austerity. But people (understandably) do not like austerity and are voting for politicians who promise something different and better. This is precisely what has just happened in France and Greece and is likely to happen in every election from now on, including possibly in the UK. The problem is - what if the solutions proposed by the new guys do not work? What if there really is no alternative to a period of reducing our debts by cutting public spending at the same time as trying to stimulate our economies. What happens then?

History teaches us that what happens then is that people reach for more and more radical and extreme solutions. At the Greek elections a far right party with neo-Nazi tendencies achieved 7% of the vote. Hitler started with a lower figure. Six months ago I learned that very clever people in our Treasury were reading up on the rise of Fascism because that nearly always follows a period of austerity and political powerlessness.

The Euro is also part of the problem. It is bad enough to have austerity imposed upon you by your elected government, without having it rammed down your throat from "outsiders" you did not elect. It now looks very likely that several countries will be leaving the Euro Zone in the next 24 months or so, starting with Greece. This turbulence can only help stir the pot.

All the more important then, that mainstream politicians concentrate on the things that matter to voters, do not make promises they cannot keep and spell out the harsh realities of the mess we are in at the same time as offering a way out, albeit a long and painful one.

Start scribbling, a story is unfolding.

posted by Gary @ 08:25