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, 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