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, 29 May 2014


Now that the dust is settling on the dramatic events of last week, I offer a few reflections.

I find it encouraging that the British electoral system is robust enough to offer stability during periods of turmoil, but fluid enough to allow new parties to emerge or old ones to re-emerge and do well. UKIP certainly did well in the EU and local elections last week and the main parties will ignore the message sent at our peril. Our system allows for evolutionary change as we have clearly witnessed over the past two hundred years. This is unlike the USA where there has always been an entrenched two party system or other less stable countries like Egypt and Thailand where change comes through coups d'état rather than the ballot box.

With modern mass media it is even more possible in the UK for a political leader to capture public imagination and support and to come to power. I see that as a positive.

My second observation is that the turnout was only 34% and therefore not necessarily a prediction of the outcome of the next general election where turnout will be around 70%. Nonetheless those who did vote demonstrated their desire for change especially over the EU and immigration. It is interesting to see that ring wing parties did well in many established EU member states, a reflection of public concerns over the way the EU is run.

Finally, and although some of the language and attitudes are racist and unpleasant, I completely agree that we have to put in place a far more robust immigration policy, both in terms of people coming here to work and to claim benefits. We also have to overcome the alleged human rights impediments to sending foreign criminals back where they came from.

The reality is that immigration policy cannot be dramatically altered if we stay in the EU, because the very essence of the Union is the right to work and live in any member state. It is possible that the rules of the EU will be substantially changed on this, but unlikely. So we stand at the crossroads and have to decide: in or out.  We have to have a referendum to settle this for the next generation.  This is clearly what most voters want and in a democracy that must prevail.

This is set to be a key policy debate in the run up to the next general election.

posted by Gary @ 09:41