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, 12 September 2013


The activity of the past few weeks, where so many of you have fed in your views on Syria and the Lobbying Bill has challenged me.

A Member of Parliament is a representative, not a delegate. This means that he or she is elected to represent constituents at Westminster by exercising personal judgement, not to vote in a particular way mandated by them. In any event, how can you discover how constituents would like you to vote? I think back to a Saturday years ago when the issue of docking dogs' tails was being debated, I opened a letter from one vet urging me to vote for the bill, and immediately afterwards, a letter from another vet urging me to vote against.

Our system is clear: voters elect a representative, that person exercises his or her own judgement and if the people don't like it they have the ability to remove that MP at the next election. The British people have shown themselves to be ruthlessly adept at MP removal. In 1997 178 of my colleagues were swept away on one night.

But even if we are expected to exercise our own judgement, it is a foolish MP who does not listen to his constituents and seek to reflect their views. This begs the question: how to consult properly with constituents and how best for constituents to make their view known.

It helps to live in the constituency. I have never found people shy of approaching me and letting me know what they think. Sometimes even walking down the Ridgeway can take twenty minutes. A trip to the pub usually elicits some opinions, often colourfully expressed.
But it has to be more methodical than that. Sending in cards or clicking on campaigning websites is of little value, although individual letters or e-mails are always respected.

I have decided to try and formalise the consultation process, using technology that we virtually all use. I am going to compile a data base of constituency e-mail addresses and then periodically consult those people by seeking views and wisdom on various topics as they arise.

If you would like to be consulted by me as issues arise, please simply e-mail me over the next week or so on: and you will be added to my list. This will not be passed onto anybody else. It will simply be used to consult you on policy issues.

Get typing. The more the merrier.

posted by Gary @ 13:39