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, 23 June 2016


The death last week of Jo Cox was truly devastating. If any silver lining can come out of a tragedy that leaves two young children mother-less and a husband left alone, perhaps it will be a wake-up call to us all about how we conduct our politics in this country.

I have been touched by the "thank your MP" campaign that broke cover following Jo's murder, and the very generous messages received by so many. The demonization of MPs by the press since the expenses scandal of 2009 has been spiteful and based on a false premise. For all our faults, the simple truth is that most MPs are trying to make people's loves better, love their constituencies, are honest, work hard and are doing their best.

Healthy scepticism about their politicians has been the British way for centuries and that is fine. But balance is required.

So if there is a shift in the national mood towards the body politic that is to be welcome.

However, we must put our own House in order. There is too much spin and we need to find a way to be more authentic with the general public, especially at higher levels. There is too much petty point scoring and it is time we grew up a bit. Perhaps the tragic murder will shock us into a new attitude. Perhaps.

Whatever the outcome of this week's referendum (which I do not know while typing this) there is now a pressing need for national reconciliation. Whichever side won there will be a significant number on the other side who will feel genuinely aggrieved. At grass roots and at senior level, there is now a need to reach out and bury the hatchet – and not in each other's heads.

I once visited Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for over 20 years. He was a victim of one of the most divisive political regimes the planet has ever seen. He suffered appalling personal hurt and injustice yet came out of prison determined to heal his nation and forgive those who treated him so badly.

Although on a totally different scale, the debate on the EU has been very acrimonious and there is a pressing need for reconciliation. Some of us are planning this already at Westminster – reconciliation amongst those who have spent weeks ripping into each other.

It won't be easy and wounds have been deep. But good governance demands it.

posted by Gary @ 09:25