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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, 24 March 2016


You do not have to be Mystic Meg to predict that we are entering a period of political turbulence, certainly in the UK and probably globally. 

The debate at the higher levels of government over the EU referendum is only going to get tastier as the weeks go past. Many people feel passionately about EU membership on both sides of the argument, but personal ambition has been thrown into the mix. Boris Johnson has rolled the dice and is making his pitch for party leadership, probably the best chance he will ever get. So the turmoil of the referendum debate, already dramatic enough, now has added to it a fight to the death of two of the Biggest Beasts in the political jungle.

If the country votes to leave the EU on 23rd June this turmoil can only increase. Although I would want David Cameron to stay on as PM, I suspect that he will find it impossible to remain.  So at a time when our economy will be shaken, the stock market plunging and sterling on the floor, we will lurch into a fiercely fought leadership election within the party. Boris is likely to be the victor and would have the difficult job of negotiating our exit from the EU. Interesting times.

We can recover and will have to if we are to avoid the first socialist government since Harold Wilson being elected.  If I had a pound for every time that a constituent told me that Jeremy Corbyn could not possibly be elected as PM, I would change my car to a Lexus. We should not forget that nobody thought he could possibly be elected as the leader of the Labour party.

Bleak though the above is, we have to place this is an international context: The Chinese economy slowing down and Chinese business-people withdrawing their capital from the country. Japanese economy stagnant for 15 years. Emerging countries like India and Brazil not making the progress once predicted. The economy of the EU stagnant. Negative interest rates! The global economy shrinking. Mass migration a constant threat. Terrorism. Russia flexing its muscles. The Middle East remaining a powder keg. The prospect of Donald Trump in the White House. No strong global leadership. 

In the words of my former boss Sir John Major: Oh dear!

At times like this it is important to hold to what we believe, strap ourselves in and recognise that this too will pass. 

posted by Gary @ 09:35  



Monday, 21 March 2016


I had a long meeting with the excellent CEO of Derriford Hospital on Friday to talk through some of our local health challenges.

In truth the whole system is under pressure. It always has been ever since I started meeting the then CEO of Derriford in 1992, but it is worse than ever. Despite pumping more money into the NHS than ever in our history, despite having recruited more doctors and nurses than ever before, the system is creaking at the seams.

As you may recall, the government has chosen 3 areas of the country to launch an intervention (wrongly) named the success regime. We are one of them. A smart team of people have been analysing how our local health economy works and a report on initial findings is due shortly. As a result we might be able to put in place a robust plan to improve healthcare locally.

The primary reason for this unprecedented pressure appears to be the great age that many of us are now achieving, with, understandably, regular health needs as part of that journey. You do not need to sit in the foyer at Derriford for very long to observe that the vast majority of patients are or retirement age and above. GPs surgeries are under enormous pressure as patients know from trying to get an appointment when ill.

Perhaps too many patients are being needlessly referred to the acute hospital, but in this age of litigious patients can we really blame GPs for that? Too many people are attending the Emergency Department at Derriford when they might not need to do so. But who wants to be the one who discourages the well-hidden child meningitis case? Too many patients are staying in acute hospital beds when they could be convalescing in less intensive or expensive units, and the recent local integration of health and social care is taking a long time to produce discernible improvements.

Let us hope that the fruits of the success regime produce a better system for us locally.  I will be supporting its findings strongly, even if there are tough decisions to be made – because we cannot go on as we are. The government is rightly committed to the NHS Five Year
Plan and are funding it in full, but if in 5 years' time our system is still under so much pressure, the clamour for a fresh look at the NHS model will be inescapable. 

posted by Gary @ 10:19  



Thursday, 10 March 2016


I have had an interesting reaction to last week's article about immigration working well in Croydon. Several people have congratulated me on it, but not everybody. One gentleman e-mailed to say that he has shown it to his entire family and I have now lost 20 votes! Big family.

I receive more e-mails about immigration than any other subject, even though the ethnicity make-up of my constituency hovers around 99% British white. That is neither good nor bad, it is how it is. London has an ethnicity make-up of around 50%. That is also neither good nor bad, it is how it is. Many of them are third or fourth generation and are as British as you and I, even though they might be a slightly different colour, which some people still appear not to like. 

There is no country in the world, with the possible exception of North Korea, which does not now receive significant levels of immigration. Australia, which many constituents hold up as a model for us to follow, has a higher proportion of immigrant workers than we do. All European countries, the USA and Canada have an unending stream of people wanting to cross their borders: (a) as illegal immigrants, (b) to seek asylum or (c) to work. This is not going to change anytime soon.

Our response must be:
(a) to illegal immigrants – stop them coming in – apprehend the ones that do and send them home. That is what the UK government is doing, quite rightly.

(b) With asylum seekers, process them quickly, treating them at every stage as human beings, and if they are genuine make them welcome and if they are not (and the majority are not) send them from whence they came. This is what the UK government is doing. Last year we processed 20,000 asylum seekers and France had 50,000 and Germany 80,000. This is happening everywhere!

(c) With those coming here to work – accept them if there is work to do and deny them benefits if there is not. That is what the UK government is now doing. Whether we like it or not many of our industries would grind to a halt without immigrant workers: construction, hotels, restaurants and bars, the NHS and care homes to mention but a few.

Some people are still living in the land of Dixon of Dock Green. That world has gone. We are now in the age of Google-box.

posted by Gary @ 09:24  



Thursday, 3 March 2016


I have spent some time in Croydon Hospital this week visiting a relative. Croydon is one of the most diverse boroughs in London and coming from a Devon background, there are lessons to be learned.

The staff on this particular high dependency unit were absolutely wonderful: professional, hard-working, expert and caring. Not a single one of them was white British. The staff nurse was a very bright man from Portugal. When he was off duty the role was taken by Precious, a constantly cheerful Afro-Caribbean lady. The Registrar who delivered the diagnosis and spelt out the way forward was wearing a Muslim head scarf. She was brilliant. The unit was well run.

From outside this melting pot of ethnicities it would be possible to be judgemental. From within, once the abilities and personalities of the people shone through, the natural reaction was simply to celebrate this rich diversity.

It is now obvious that our National Health Service could not function without much input from people not born in this country. We are down to 5% unemployment in the United Kingdom, in Devon, significantly less than that. In my constituency 1%, which is basically full employment. With some notable exceptions, we are down to the stubborn hard core of indigenous people who would rather not work, need special help or who have fallen on hard times and need time to recover. Our construction and leisure industry, health service and caring professions would now grind to a halt without help from outside.

Back to Croydon. Not all is rosy. It is vital that people seeking to work here master the English language well and rapidly. Each wave of immigration tends to dislodge the previous one. I was chatting to an anxious husband of a poorly woman in the same unit. He observed that years ago, the hospital would have been full of black people doing these jobs, but now it was mainly people of Asian extraction. He had spent 35 years driving a London bus – his parents coming over here in the fifties from Jamaica at our request to do the jobs our people did not want to do. 

The point about Croydon and the Capital as a whole, is that this melting pot works. It works because people overcome the superficial differences of race, colour and religion and just deal with the person standing in front of them as a human being. I for one am very grateful.

posted by Gary @ 09:24