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, 16 July 2015


I have been reflecting on the importance of listening to the silent majority. This is obviously a contradiction in terms, as by definition, the silent majority does not say anything, thus rendering it hard to listen to them.

What am I talking about? To judge from my e-mail inbox the fact that my party won the last election was a democratic outrage and that the new government is now setting about destroying our nation, brick by brick. Just after the election some of the communications received were so full of bile that they could easily have been X-rated. If I listened to them I would conclude that the country is on the verge of revolution.

But as I potter around the constituency doing this and that, I find a general contentment at the election victory, a recognition that the PM is doing his best to get the country back on track and support for the attempt to get the deficit under control and reduce the size of welfare. The silent majority is grazing peacefully it seems.

It has not always been thus. I remember the day that interest rates zoomed up to 20% (or similar) in my first Parliament. Jan and I had gone shopping together we were so hounded at every turn in every street we made a hasty retreat back home. I remember the 300 plus angry letters I received about the closure of the coal mines even though the nearest one was in Wales. There have been several times over the years when I cannot get from the Iceland car park to Boots on the Ridgeway in Plympton without being strongly accosted.

Why are the majority not consistently more vocal? Because they are just getting on with their lives: working hard or enjoying their well-earned retirement, recognising that life has its ups and downs, realising that accidents happen and it is not always possible to pin blame or be compensated, taking the rough with the smooth and giving the other guy a break.

I have learned that we must find ways of listening to the majority and tune out the worst excesses of the noisy minority whether from left or right. There are people who are borderline xenophobic; others who dream of a Trotskyite state. They have the right to their views but they must never drown out the quiet wisdom of the vast majority of people who are just getting on with it.

posted by Gary @ 10:03