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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, 28 May 2015


This week Parliament got up and running properly again with that very British of events: the State Opening of Parliament. Much pomp and pageantry but behind it all lies a very practical reality: the Queens Speech (written by the government) contains the legislative programme for Parliament for the next 12 months. It is our agenda, the proposed new laws we will be debating and voting on between now and next June. Her Majesty also says every year: "other measures will be laid before you", code for we may have forgotten something, or we may have to respond to the unexpected.

This has all of the hallmarks of a radical and visionary government. Scrapping our human rights legislation, introducing a British Bill of rights, legislating for a referendum on EU membership, giving housing association tenants the right to buy, continuing our welfare revolution, more robust measures on terrorism: this is not going to be for the faint hearted. With an overall majority of just 12, there will inevitably be some cliff-edge votes on the most contentious items. It will be for me a throw back to my first parliament of 1992 to 1997 where we had a similar majority, although hopefully without the all night sittings.

My main focus will be on getting the government to deliver on its promises to us in the south west, especially in relation to transport infrastructure. I have no reason to suppose that this will not happen, but I have been around long enough to know that it cannot be taken for granted.

I have also to raise two issues of a wider nature. First, to press for a change in the law on travellers. We looked at this briefly in the last Parliament but there were those in the coalition who were not persuaded. Most of us are now thoroughly fed up with there being one law for us and another law for a small group who are neither vulnerable nor of a particular ethnicity – they simply behave as though they are above the law, and keep getting away with it. This has to be tackled.

I also want to raise the issue of more support for people who adopt children – especially in later years when some of the problems flowing from traumatic early years start to trickle through. We are not supporting this group well enough at the moment.

It feels like it is going to be another busy year.

posted by Gary @ 11:52  



Thursday, 21 May 2015


Just before the election I was strongly advised by a marketing expert to make use of social media during the forthcoming campaign.

His logic was that platforms (get the jargon) such as twitter and Facebook are now the primary way that journalists get their material to start work on an article. To my old-fashioned mind, unless a piece was in the written or traditional broadcast media, TV and radio, it did not exist and it did not matter.

Reluctantly I agreed to tweet. Clumsily at first and then started to get the hang of it and now it is becoming second nature. The advice was right. Sending out an interesting tweet achieves two things. It is read by the people who are following you and several constituents and local opinion formers are now doing so, and it catches the attention of the mainstream journalists who follow their local MP's tweets with great interest, doubtless hoping for the jaw-dropping faux-pas.  I have learned that sending out a picture is important and it is necessary to think once, twice and then a third time before pressing the send button. My election tweets have also made a media star out of my Siamese cat, Colin, who expressed a range of trenchant opinions during the campaign about the prospect of a Labour/SNP government that I would not possibly dare to express myself.

The key lesson is that we have to move with the times. I do not want to use social media, but if I wish to communicate with the people who I am seeking to represent at Westminster, I have no real choice.

My father was reminiscing over the weekend about the changes in farming techniques since he started as a cowman in 1947. Then he milked by hand. Milk was delivered by horse and cart to the door. Now some local dairy farms have automatic milking systems where the cows go in twice a day and are milked by machines automatically. Now we all buy milk at supermarkets. The outcome remains the same: dairy farmers produce milk which the rest of us consume.

MPs are elected to represent their voters at Westminster and to make laws. Diligent MPs try to stay in touch with those who send us to Parliament. Technology determines how we do it.

It is pointless trying to stand against the march of technology. It is better to embrace it and use it for benevolent purposes.

I can be found on Twitter @gary4swdevon and Facebook

posted by Gary @ 09:33  



Thursday, 14 May 2015


massive thank you to all of those who voted to return me to Westminster for the sixth time. Of course as, ever, I will do my best for all constituents and for this area, irrespective of how people voted. I will make a decision 3 years into this Parliament whether to stand once more, but as I am still enjoying the challenge and a mere boy at 59, I expect to do so.

Very few people saw the national result coming. In our household, after a dusty evening of knocking up voters for my next door colleague, a few of us were sitting in my front room eagerly awaiting the exit poll at 10pm. My jaw nearly hit the floor at the dramatic conclusion: promising a great night for my party. After so many polls in which we were neck and neck with Labour it was hard to believe. At Jan and I went down to the count, and apart from shuffling nervously around watching our own count (which concluded at 8 a.m.) we were able to follow events on the big screen at the Guildhall. It soon became clear that an outright majority was on the cards, even more dramatic than the exit poll had suggestedGeneral rejoicing amongst the blue team and gloom amongst the reds. The fact that Plymouth went completely blue was also unexpected. 

Parliament returns officially next Monday to re-elect the Speaker (or not as the case may be) and for us to all swear in individually. The following Wednesday (27th May) will be the state opening of Parliament and the Queen's speech which will set out the programme for government for the next 12 months. It promises to be radical.

Going around the polling stations as I usually do on the morning of the election, I did sense that people were voting in large numbers and picked up positive vibes from many as they left. That has not always been the case, and I did begin to wonder if something unexpected was happening. 

The Liberal Democrats have paid a very heavy (and unfair) price for being part of the coalition in the national interest and I hope they find a way forward. Their candidate against me,Tom Davies, was an exceptionally pleasant and talented individual and it would be the nation's loss if people like him could not find a foothold in modern politics.

Back to work with a vengeance.

posted by Gary @ 08:21