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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, 25 August 2016


Britain declared war on Nazi Germany in September 1939. Nothing much happened in terms of military action, certainly affecting Britain, until spring 1940. This period become known as the phoney war. Everybody knew that we had made a massive decision, but life went on largely as before, with a growing sense that something unpleasant was just around the corner.

Since our decision to leave the EU on 23rd June, it strikes me that we are in an comparable situation. The country has made a massive decision, which the government will follow through to its conclusion, but not much has changed yet for the person in the street and nobody is quite sure what the consequences will be. A phoney war.

The Bank of England clearly think that the economy is about to turn down and have acted, but recent reports, only slightly historic, of economic activity have not confirmed that. Assessments of the impact on world trade and the global economy appear to fluctuate wildly.

What is going on out there? Nobody seems to know for sure.

The next six months will give us a more accurate picture of the impact of the Brexit decision. It is important that we do not talk ourselves into a recession by taking unnecessary steps. I have been talking to large local employers over the summer who mainly confirm that their order books remain high, but because economists are predicting a slowdown, several are taking steps to "right-size" just in case. Rightsizing is a modern euphemism for laying people off.

If too many firms do this in an anticipatory fashion, it will simply create the problem we are all trying to avoid.

Hopefully we can get through the next year without recession. The next major challenge will be the outcome of the Article 50 negotiations themselves, especially in relation to accessing the single market. I expect these talks to get underway in 2017 and quickly to get to the key issues. You don't have to be a genius to recognise that if we come out of the single market there will be an inevitable economic price to pay. This will be the political focus of the next 18 months.

AIn 1940, the harsh reality of warfare came home to roost in a brutal way. The UK government will do everything in its power to ensure that this EU phoney war will finish well – in a way that takes our country forward.

posted by Gary @ 09:35  



Thursday, 18 August 2016


What makes you happy? TV adverts suggest that we cannot be happy unless driving the latest 4X4 which can send and receive texts while you drive and park itself. It is also essential that you drench yourself in "Allure" or "Epic" some such other over-priced perfume/after shave in order to attract your mate's affections. We will all be miserable of course without the latest smart phone which can take our pulse whilst opening and closing the curtains.

Meanwhile back in the real world, endless happiness surveys home in on 3 key issues: reasonable health, very good close personal relationships and believing in a cause bigger than yourself. If you can tick these boxes you will almost certainly be happy.

The opposite is often true: constant ill-health can job us of joy, and fractured close relationships cause dejection. It is hard to raise a smile from people who only think about themselves and never lift their heads above their own horizons.

For most being happy is a major life goal. Baffling then that we scarcely talk about the ingredients that can lead us down that golden path or teach these values at school.

There is more tuition now about eating healthily and taking reasonable care to look after the body we were born with; perhaps it is time to take this even further.

What about personal relationships and a cause bigger than ourselves? Are these subjects ever properly aired? We might not be able to teach someone how to identify and fall in love with their soul-mate, but there are principles involved in maintaining strong relationships that can be learned. School, when hormones are flying around, might not be the best place to teach such things, but at some stage in our early years, we would all benefit from hearing from others about the secret to maintain close relationships.

Finally a cause bigger than ourselves. How many of us have this? For some it is our personal faith – the ability to lift our sights and discover that we are part of a wondrous creation. If I thought that this material world was all there was I would be gloomy indeed.

For others it is campaigning for nuclear disarmament, saving the environment or even Manchester United.

This summer is a good time for a piece of self-examination. How do you score in the happiness stakes? Which one of these do we lack? What are we going to do about it?

posted by Gary @ 08:29  



Thursday, 11 August 2016


We have to learn from history. We have learned that vast monolithic structures rarely deliver good results: in health, education or business. Choice, diversity and competition are good things – they help keep people on their toes. Soviet Russia taught us that monochrome state-controlled service delivery is highly inefficient. British Leyland taught us that state-owned businesses rarely succeed – just think back to all of those broken down cars on the hard shoulders of our motorways in the 1970's!

Yet there clearly has to be a balance between a national system and a complete free for all. Some would argue that our healthcare landscape is currently too fragmented. Hospital trusts, independent GP practices, separate community healthcare companies, Clinical Commissioning Groups, Local Authority social care departments, NHS England, all notionally overseen by the Department of Health – the field is cluttered and disjointed.

This fragmentation came about because the previous large scale organisations were not delivering and certainly could not meet the challenging demands of today's ageing population. An injection of rationalisation into the system and greater coherence would be welcomed, without the upheaval of another structural reform.

I am cautious about much more disintegration in the education field also. I strongly support the movement towards academies. I have seen all too often quality school leadership held back by pointless meddling from the local education authority. But it is possible to go too far and create a shambles that is too diverse. I support free schools – for example the one at Sparkwell is very successful and popular – but I am not sure of the contribution made in Plymouth by specialist art and technology schools. A step too far perhaps. 

Neither am I sure about the government's recent announcement to allow another wave of grammar schools. I would not want to see us heading back to a system whereby one set of exams at age 11 determines your future. Selection is great for the ones who pass, but what about the many children who do not?  The grammar school system in Plymouth works well because it sits alongside an excellent bank of comprehensive schools. I would not want to see the quality of non-selective schools undermined by a new raft of selection. I will study the details of our policy carefully before deciding whether I can support it.

Moderation in all things is a worthy maxim. Getting the balance right in the structure of service delivery is a very difficult but important objective.  


Please note email address for replies .

posted by Gary @ 13:16  



Thursday, 4 August 2016


The referendum and its dramatic aftermath have rekindled a fresh interest in our democracy. In pubs and living rooms up and down the country regular people have been talking about politics once again. This is a good thing. Politics matters. As I keep on saying, the only difference between North Korea where people are hungry, oppressed and scared and South Korea where they are free, prosperous and content is politics. 60 years ago these were the same people, it was the same country. Politics matters. So renewed political interest is welcome.

After all the drama, my own party appears to have achieved (more by luck than judgement) a positive outcome: a new Prime Minister who attracts widespread support and who is competent and strong. Just the job.

For the sake of the country and our democracy, I hope for a similar outcome for the Labour Party. In our mature but let's-not –take-it-for-granted democracy a main opposition party with a chance of becoming the government is essential. I hope that our friends on the left can divest themselves of their current incumbent and come up with a leader who might place them in that position. Don't hold your breath. For them the drama looks like it might continue.

But what of the Lib Dems? They lost all of their seats bar eight at the last election including all of their seats in the south west. They are hoping to recover on the back of the pro-EU vote. Almost certainly this will help them to rise slightly from their dire position in the polls over the next two years. The problem is that Brexit is likely to take place in early 2019. The election is not scheduled to be until May 2020. How credible will it be to go into that general election promising to take us back into the EU once we are already out, hopefully on favourable terms? Not a strong platform.

Finally what of UKIP? Congratulations to them on achieving their goal. The UK is now going to leave the EU. They have lost their charismatic leader. I suspect that we will slowly see their aged activists fade away into the sunset – job done.

So there will be captivating trends in our domestic politics over the next few years that will hopefully retain people's interest. And these are simply the probable developments. What about the things we cannot yet see? Keep watching closely and expect the unexpected.

posted by Gary @ 16:26  



Tuesday, 2 August 2016


I hope you will take a few moments this summer to cast your eye over the Plymouth and South West Devon joint local plan, especially so far as it relates to your area. This is your chance to have your say. Go to to peruse this. (For Ivybridge you go to: )

I congratulate the three local authorities on working on this plan together. It makes so much more sense to plan for the sub-region as a whole than separately. This plan will take us all the way to 2034, so will literally shape our landscape for the next two decades. It is therefore important to get it right. Your input can help that to happen.

The first thing you will notice about the plan is that it does not provide for the mass explosion of Plymouth into the rural countryside.
Yes, there are pockets of development now proposed to take place on the city borders – especially at Newnham and Woolwell (both of them long-discussed) - but as hoped, most of the urban fringe growth is contained within Sherford. Also, the extent of building on brownfield sites within the city is far greater than that outside of it.

You will also notice that for the first time the plan provides for many existing open pieces of land to be preserved as local green spaces, rather than developed on. This can give a community confidence that the bulldozers are not about to roll in and take away their amenity land. I greatly welcome this.

Ivybridge remains a place where more housing and mixed development is expected. To the east of that town, this has been in the offing for many years. The proposals to the west might take some by surprise. The extent of these growth plans add weight to the case for an eastern access onto the A38. What about the impact on local amenities? Make sure you have your say.

It is important that your local knowledge is brought to the fore as this joint local plan is slowly developed. Please respond to the local authority by e-mail or letter, not just focussing on the things you don't like, but also the things you do. They have made an impressive start, but it is important to support the council on its protection of green spaces, because the plan will be subject to scrutiny and challenge from developers. We have until 12th August to respond.

posted by Gary @ 10:42