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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, 29 January 2015


George Osborne, the Chancellor, came to the National Marine Aquarium at Plymouth on Monday to set out a long term economic plan for the south west. It is the first time in 23 years that I can recall this ever being done, and it is timely. The packed audience of local business leaders gave his speech an enthusiastic welcome. The south west for this purpose is the seven counties of the region, from Gloucestershire to Stonehenge and all the way down to Land's End.

There was something for everyone, massive investment in the army in Wiltshire, huge spending on cyber warfare at GCHQ in Cheltenham, a substantial new project in Falmouth, together with more for superfast broadband and our rail and road infrastructure here in the far south west (Devon and Cornwall). For Plymouth the plan is to build upon the recently announced city deal with more investment in the exciting marine-based renewable energy sector. If we can become market leaders in this field – job done.

At last the government has recognised that our railway infrastructure has suffered from under investment for too many years and a plan is being worked up by a task force to help us become better connected. The chancellor also set out a proposal – the first time I had heard it – to create a new rail franchise just for Devon and Cornwall alone, which could give us a real local flavour. Very interesting.

It is important to have a plan. This sets direction and gives focus. It is not just our region's natural assets (sea, moor, landscape), there is a real buzz about local businesses right now – witness the fact that unemployment in this constituency is now at a record low of 0.8%. Yes, you read that right: 0.8%. In case you are wondering, 80% of the jobs created since 2010 are full time.

What I like about this new regional approach, is that it does not have a new tier of bureaucracy attached to it. We do not need another south west regional assembly or regional development agency. We do not need another level of government. Instead we need central government to work with our visionary business leaders and local authorities to help us overcome infrastructure challenges that can only be funded centrally.

I have often described Plymouth as a city that has not achieved its full potential. I truly believe that over the next 5 years that may change.

posted by Gary @ 14:23  



Thursday, 22 January 2015


5th February 2015 is national voter registration day. Make sure you are registered if you want to vote on 7th May – containing a general election, council elections and in some areas parish council elections too! Spoilt for choice. If you are not registered, you will be denied a vote.

The way we all register to vote is changing. The old fashioned way of the head of the household registering every adult in that home has gone. Now we are all responsible to register personally, to better reflect the way we live today.

To ensure that nobody misses out in the change of system voters on the old register are automatically transferred to the new. For the first time, it is possible to register online. You need to know your name your address, your date of birth and national insurance number. If you have all of these things you can click a few buttons and in thirty seconds appear on the register and be able to have your say at the forthcoming elections.

One group who have more work to do are postal voters. If you had a postal vote under the old system, your right to vote by post is not automatically carried forward, so you have to tell the authorities if you want a postal vote in May. You should by now have been contacted by the council about this.  I would expect between 20 and 30% of constituents to vote by post, but at the moment in SW Devon, the figure of those signed up for a postal vote is well under 20%. I suspect that some people think they are registered for a PV when they are not. It might be worth checking with the electoral registration department at your local authority.

If we are going to keep our democracy alive, we have to participate. The taxi driver taking me to the station on Monday thought that all politicians are rubbish, there is no point in voting and the country has gone to the dogs.
An encouraging start to the week! It is not true: despite our many challenges our country is a great place to live.
Apart from our weather, where is better, freer, safer?

This is in part because we have a stable political system. Help keep it alive by registering to vote and then on 7th May, have your say.  The custodians of our democracy are not the politicians, but the people.

posted by Gary @ 09:18  



Thursday, 15 January 2015


I have received many e-mails since the horrific terror attacks last week. Understandably constituents wish to express their anger and concern about similar attacks over here.

Our response has to be hard-headed and practical. There are people living in every European country who follow some perverted extremist ideology and who are prepared to attack and destroy our way of life. The question is how to stop them. Might I suggest the following approach?

1)    We have to recognise these acts for what they are: acts of barbaric criminality. We have to be swift and brutal in our response. We have to do our utmost, through security services to identify and monitor those who are planning such acts and descend like a ton of bricks upon them. If our laws are not sufficient, we should change them.

2)    At the same time we must put our arm around our Muslim community – who are as horrified as anybody else about these events – and ensure that they are made to feel welcome here. We must support freedom of religious expression in the UK. Some people appear to want to "send them all home." They are home and the vast majority love peace and tolerance like anybody else. If you are scared of Islam, it is probably because you do not know any Muslims. It has been gratifying to see the response of the French people, of all faiths and none, in demonstrating for freedom of expression and unity.

3)    We have to do more to prevent radicalisation in universities and prisons and elsewhere. Here we need the support of Muslim community leaders. Some great work is being done in this area, but we need more. We should recognise that throughout history young men have always been attracted to following others into conflict, especially if their own lives are empty. North Africa and the Middle East are full of potential candidates for radicalisation. Europe should not be. We have to be better at watching out for pockets of radicalisation and stamping hard on it.

This the government's approach.

I confess I loathe some of the more extreme satirical publications or so-called comedians – poking fun cynically at the Royal Family or aspects of Christianity or other Faiths. But I accept that in a liberal democratic world, we must give room for people to be rude and disrespectful. It is one of the prices we pay for our precious freedoms. It is worth it.

posted by Gary @ 13:07  



Thursday, 8 January 2015


Greece is a fabulous country, with an impressive history and a glittering array of picturesque islands, well portrayed in that great film Mamma Mia. But Greece is in big trouble now, and has been since the global economic crash in 2008 and worldwide recession. 2015 could be their make or break year.

Unemployment is high, government debt through the roof and they have needed three major bailouts from the European Central Bank to keep them afloat and paying their bills. In exchange for this support from their fellow EU members, Greece has had to accept tough austerity measures involving savage cuts in all kinds of government spending.

Understandably, the people of Greece have had a bellyful of austerity, and in the elections due to be held in late January a coalition of ultra-left parties, who have a realistic chance of winning, are pledging to tear up the EU deal and start spending again. What money they will have to spend is unclear.

Why does any of this matter to us? Because if Greece does default on its obligations under the austerity deal, it is quite likely that they will be thrown out of the euro. This prospect is known as Grexit. The other Eurozone countries, especially Germany, are fed up with Greek indiscipline. Grexit might be a good thing for Greece in the short term as they can then devalue their currency and reap a bonanza in terms of cheap holidays. Where this leaves them in the longer term is another matter.

The problem is once one country defaults on its obligations and has to leave the Eurozone, others may well follow, most likely Portugal and the larger economies of Spain (where youth unemployment is 58%) and Italy. All of this speaks of instability and volatility which is never a good thing for markets or for those who export into those markets. In other words stormy weather in the Eurozone is bad news for the British economy.

The Euro only came into being in 1999, less than 20 years ago. This is a very short time in historic terms. It must still be considered an experiment. It clearly has some bumpy years ahead, and the jury is still out on whether it is even possible to have a single currency without a single government.

This is all happening in slow motion, a slow motion car-crash on the continent. But the shock waves may be felt in the UK.

posted by Gary @ 13:18  



Thursday, 1 January 2015


It's all over again for another year. Put the fairy lights back in the attic and take the empties to the bottle bank. The focus switches to the New Year. Thank goodness we cannot see the future clearly.

One thing we can accurately predict is that 2015 will contain at least one general election, on 7th May to be precise. Now that we have five year fixed term Parliaments, the date is established years in advance. All of the pundits are predicting an election too close to call, a nail-biting result impossible to predict. Let me take you through the possible numbers to explain why.

In 2010 the Conservative Party got 36% of the national vote which resulted in 307 seats. You need 326 seats to have a majority of 2, so we fell short, hence the coalition with the Lib Dems whose 23% earned them 57 seats. Labour, under Gordon Brown slumped to 29% which delivered 258 seats. 

Since then we have had the arrival on the scene of a strengthened UKIP and a rejuvenated SNP in Scotland.

If current opinion polls are repeated in May, the Conservative and Labour Party will win about 33% of the vote each, representing a small swing to Labour, with some seats likely to turn from blue to red. The Lib Dems have collapsed to a consistent 8% and are likely to lose half of their seats. At a steady 15% UKIP are not predicted to win any seats, but most of us think that they will win maybe 4 or 5. Their real impact is likely to be in the contest between red and blue in the marginal seats.

In Scotland it is now predicted that the SNP who had 6 Westminster seats in 2010 could win as many as 30 – mainly taking from Labour. What is the likely upshot of all this? 

Labour seats will probably increase, but not dramatically, especially when the SNP impact is factored in. Let's say they get up to 285 seats.   Lib Dems might be halved in number to 33. The Conservative team might be reduced to, say, 285. UKIP might have 4, the SNP 35.

Labour and Conservatives might well have a similar number of MPs. Neither can get to the magic 326 in coalition with one other party. Can a stable coalition be forged out of that result? 

It might all be very different. It is up to you. Happy New Year. 

posted by Gary @ 08:58