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, 27 August 2015


The Internet is a wonderful invention and has opened up so many possibilities to all who can click and tap and enter the world-wide-web. E-mails and twitter are part of this brave new world. But like the invention of the internal combustion engine before it, it is a real curate's egg – partly good; partly bad. The ability to jump in your car and drive anywhere you want represents genuine freedom. The fact that over 3,000 people a year die on British roads, a less desirable consequence.

How wonderful to be able to skype your family member in Australia, e-mail your friend in Peru or research that tricky subject instantly on Wikipedia. But how many dangers lurk beneath the surface for web users: rampant pornography, identity fraud and cyber-bullying.

Two weeks ago I made a decision to close down my twitter account. I had written in this column previously the reasons why I had opened it in the first place – a useful device to communicate with followers and the media. But in the run up to the postponed vote on hunting I was bombarded with hundreds of identical (nonsensical) messages about the alleged evils of fox-hunting from people all over the country. I am happy when constituents express their views to me, however forcibly, but why put up with a barrage from people I do not represent?

I happily ignored them until I dug deeper. Some of the messages were on the surface about hunting, but from unknown and possibly fictitious persons whose twitter account content both written and pictorial suggested a different kind of activity altogether, not something you would want your granny to see!

Twitter is a great way of communicating but obviously is being used by the massive and powerful porn industry to recruit new adherents. For me it was the final straw and I immediately closed the account. I have managed without it for 23 years and hopefully can continue tweet-free to represent my constituents for however long they will put up with me.

I set this out in some detail to warn others that dangers lurk beneath the surface, especially for our children. It is great to see ten year old boys like our grandson playing such vivid games online, far better than the toy soldiers we had. But how careful we must be when children enter adolescence that they are not captured by the darker side of the net. Parents and grandparents beware.

posted by Gary @ 08:48