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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, 30 January 2014


It would be remiss of me not to celebrate the very welcome news last week of another massive drop in unemployment across the country, the scale of which has taken commentators and economists by surprise.

The local impact is very welcome. In a constituency of 70,000 adults, only 489 of the working age population are currently unemployed a rate of 1.1%. This is the 13th best performance in the whole country out of 650 constituencies. The number of claimants in South West Devon has fallen by 200 since December 2012 and by 42 since November 2013.

Most businesses have been cut right back to the bone over the recent 5 years since the crash of 2007/8 and the people still with a job are working as hard as possible. This means that as confidence recovers and firms get busier, most of them have to recruit to deal with the extra work because there is no slack left in the system

Despite having to make substantial cuts in public sector jobs in recent years, the private sector has more than made up for it, with 1.3 million new private sector jobs being created.

Governments do not create these jobs. The credit should go to the owners and directors of the companies and small firms who have hung on in there during a very tough recession and are now ready to flourish once more. These people, who have lain awake at night worrying about how to pay their wage bills and VAT, are the risk takers and entrepreneurs who create work for others.  We should salute and support them.

The job of government is to create the right economic conditions in which the wealth creators can do their thing, and it is gratifying that the tough decisions taken by the coalition in the past 3 years are bearing fruit.

Furthermore, (and I never thought I would hear myself say this) our Liberal Democrat partners also deserve credit for sticking with these tough decisions and helping us to come out the other side of a dark tunnel. They have taken a lot of flak for this but it was the right thing for the nation as we are beginning to see. I hope they will not be decimated as a result at the next election.

The economic future is looking rosier but the job is not yet done. Public finances remain dire. Hopefully we will be allowed to complete the task.

posted by Gary @ 10:49  



Thursday, 23 January 2014


I understand that there is good cholesterol and bad cholesterol, the important thing is having the right balance.

It is the same way with immigration. There is good immigration where people from other countries come to the UK with skills and their own cultural varieties to enliven and enhance our own society. We have seen many examples of this over the years and are reaping the benefits today, not least in sport and creative arts.

We have also seen examples of bad immigration. Perhaps the Roman invasion 2000 years ago was the first, the mighty legions coming here with their short swords and their spears, subjugating the local population by brute force.

Since 1997 over 4 million people have come to our shores in a much more recent example of bad immigration. The numbers were too high, nobody was encouraged to integrate and in many places the local people felt swamped. Too many people, too quickly and as was inevitable, there is now a back lash. This was poor short-sighted governance and should never have happened.

Since 2010 the coalition government have tried to slowly close this door and have made good progress but in some parts of the country the damage has been done, and public perception has been severely impacted.

Concerns about immigration have been dominating my postbag and inbox for many months now, which is why there needs to be a proper policy response if we are to avoid fears being stoked by extremists that could have unpleasant consequences.

What the country now needs is a few years of much lower immigration to allow us to catch our breath and for communities most heavily affected to come to terms with a changing landscape. We need to make sure that people intending to live here in the long term embrace our British way of life and that integration is encouraged.
Newcomers living here should also embrace our language; after all it is not as though English is not spoken throughout the rest of the world. We need to ensure that our benefit system is only available to those who have contributed and is not a magnet to other nations.

We need to ensure that the settlement between the indigenous population and visitors is fair and sustainable over the longer term.

Fortunately, these are precisely the policies now being pursued by the coalition government, but it will take time to see the full benefits coming to fruition. 

posted by Gary @ 10:28  



Monday, 13 January 2014


I went into Hele School in Plympton on Friday to meet with a group of lively teenagers who wanted to grill me about our democracy. I always enjoy my school visits and looking forward to a full and frank exchange of views and this was no different.

We are very fortunate to have five excellent secondary schools in this constituency, all of them turning out motivated and well-educated young people. We should be proud of them.

Teachers sometimes get a bad press, but it is not deserved. They work very hard and often bring their work home, not least to prepare for the next day or mark class work. Successive governments have introduced constant changes in working arrangements for schools and if we are not careful we will simply destroy morale and undermine the crucial teaching profession.

So let me say it loud and clear: thank you teachers of South West Devon for all you do for the next generation.

And what about the next generation? When we see them coming out of school with very short ties and shirts un-tucked, gathering in scruffy groups near bus stops, we old fogies can tend to write them off. This is a huge mistake. Their fashion sense might be "interesting" – until you remember tank tops and crushed denim flared trousers (my pride and joy). They might listen to weird music and then we recall what our parents thought about Led Zepplin. They might spend most of their leisure time with eyes glued to iphones but so would we have if these amazing things had been invented then.

Fashions are transient and superficial. The crucial questions are: do they care, are they hungry to learn, are they talented and capable of working hard. Are their hearts in the right place?

On all these levels, for the overwhelming majority, I have no doubt that the answer is a resounding yes.

Of course there is always a handful who cause trouble. That was the same in my day growing up in Tiverton in the 1970's. Some young people have such chaotic and disturbed upbringings that they have no real chance of a smooth life. That thankfully remains a minority.

I speak with sixth formers from the five secondary schools in this patch several times a year. I can confirm that they are as lively and interested and full of energy and potential as they have ever been.

Our future is in safe hands.

posted by Gary @ 19:02  



Thursday, 9 January 2014


Did you hear the starting gun go off? I did - it was the PM's bold statement on the Andrew Marr show last weekend that we would continue to protect the value of the state pension with the triple lock if he remains Prime Minister after 2015. The triple lock guarantees that the old age pension will increase each year by either: average earnings, the rise in inflation or 2 ½ % whatever is the higher. Quite right too.

It was the start of the general election campaign. Now that we have five years fixed term Parliaments we already know (baring cataclysmic events) that the next election will be on 7th May 2015. The PM was making a very specific pledge on one policy that will be in our manifesto. Somewhere in the heart of Downing Street there will be a grid setting out a clear path for similar policy announcements to be made between now and next May.

It is going to be relentless and for those who are not laying awake at night thinking about politics, gruesome. It is also largely pointless since most voters, very understandably, only really think about who to vote for just a few days before an election. But there will be no escape. The party machines will be in overdrive. 2014 will be a very good year to walk to the North Pole or discover a long last relative in Borneo who must be visited – at length.

There will be a Queen's Speech this May setting out the programme for the ensuing 12 months. It will be the shortest Speech on record as the prospect of much legislation from the coalition government in the run up to the 2015 election is fanciful. There will be plenty of debates, plenty of passion, plenty of hot air, but very little new law. That is in itself no bad thing as we probably pass too much new legislation.

The longest ever election campaign is partly a product of the fixed terms but also because politics has got interesting again after 20 years when there was not much difference between the two main parties. These days there is a growing divide: a separation of ideology between the blue and red and I welcome this. It gives voters a clear choice.

So strap yourself in and enjoy the ride. More policies than you can shake a stick at will be coming in your direction anytime soon.

posted by Gary @ 10:50  



Friday, 3 January 2014


Without hope we are nothing. So what are you hoping for in 2014?

I was talking to a woman recently who had moved into a residential home in Plympton. She had become lonely in her flat and was finding it difficult to manage. Now, she is much happier, eating properly and enjoying regular company. Her life got materially better at 87. 

It seems to be an essential human need: to have hope for progress for ourselves and the ones we love.

Looking out on the world in 2014, there are plenty of reasons to be worried. The economic recovery may be well under way, but still fragile and susceptible to shocks from other parts of the world. The Euro zone crisis was successfully shunted into cold storage but has not been solved. Will 2014 be the year when a member state, Greece or Portugal maybe, is evicted from the Euro? What impact might that have on us?

The bloodbath in Syria continues unabatewith thousands of civilians and children being slaughtered. In Egypt a year ago the Muslim Brotherhood had their man in power as elected President, now he is facing trial for treason and the Brotherhood, supported by over 30% of the people has been outlawed. Dont bet against civil war in this hugely strategic countryBoth of these conflicts also risk destabilising the entire region. Will 2014 be the year when this powder keg finally explodes? We are now preciously close to the situation where a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians is becoming impossible. If so, what is the alternative? 

Tensions between China and Japan have been running since the third century! Now they are sparring over someinconsequential islands in the Pacific. Will 2014 see this boil over into outright military action? What if the lunatic in charge of North Korea launches his one million soldiers into attack on South Korea? 

In the midst of all this, we hope for the best and strive to bring about progress. We will continue to work towards a strong economic recovery with more valuable jobs being created. We will work towards solutions to these long-running international clashes and will use every ounce of our celebrated British soft power and aid to bring peace and comfort, as well as protection for the UK

May our choices in 2014 both politically and personally be wise ones  so that the things we hope for this year come to pass

posted by Gary @ 18:16