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 February 2015


One of my grandchildren asked me recently what kind of computer games I used to play when I was a child. Where to begin? No computers, no internet, no smart phones, no colour TV, no Sky. I told him about the plastic soldiers we played with and the tank that fired a matchstick from its gun – that all seemed very high-tech to us at the time.

It started me thinking about the dramatic changes we have seen in technology and communications during my lifetime. 1965 when I was 10, we had a black and white TV and watched the world cup on it in the following year. We did not get a colour TV until the early seventies, just in time for the Ashes test matches that summer. If we wanted to know something we read a book (remember Encyclopaedia Britannica?) or asked my parents who pretended to know the answer.

In 1990 when my daughter was 10, there were still no mobile phones or e-mails. In my office we thought we were cutting edge because we had replaced the telex with the fax machine. About that time the Ping-Pong game on television came around, the one where you moved the handles up and down to return the moving ball. It was the start of an electronic revolution.

What a spurt there has been since then, in just 25 years. Now, at a meeting with the Tax Payer's Alliance last week, I learnt for the first time that there is now something called phone poverty – if you do not have a smart phone you might be deemed to be living in poverty. I did not know whether to laugh or cry.

Our grandchildren are growing up in a world where connectivity is all. They have instant access to the internet for all knowledge. The computer based games they play are vivid and all-consuming. Such a different world.

Yet in many ways the old maxim: "plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose" rings true. The technology has changed but the coming generation still want the same things out of life: to be loved, to do well, , travel a bit, get a job, to meet the right person, settle down, work hard, get a house, have kids… Human nature has not changed. One of the joys of my job is to interact with school children a lot. I always come away from such sessions optimistic about the future.

posted by Gary @ 10:37