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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, 23 February 2017


Government spends about £750 billion a year of which about £23 billion comes in from business rates. It is right that businesses should contribute towards the general cost of running the country from which they benefit greatly – from having pavements and roads to employees who have been educated. Our health system, legal system and emergency services all benefit businesses.

Over the next few weeks all local firms will start to receive their bills for the next 12 months. These will be the first bills under a revaluation carried out by the independent Valuation Office Agency which is tasked with keeping our system up to date. There has been a lot of hype in the media about this, much of it inaccurate.

In fact, three-quarters of all businesses will see their rates fall or stay the same. Across the country 600,000 small businesses, the life-blood of our economy, will stop paying business rates altogether. In the South Hams part of my constituency the average reduction in bills will be over 5% and in Plympton and Plymstock 9.5%. Reductions. That is all to be welcomed.

Given that the new system has got to raise the same level of income as the previous one, for a minority of companies, the actual bill will rise. Fingers crossed for every local business.

I understand that many London based businesses will face higher rates bills, which reflects the reality on the ground about the added value to most businesses of being based in the Capital, with heightened accessibility to massive footfalls and international customers.

We will learn in the Budget on 8th March 2017 the current state of our nation's finances. This is not expected to be a very strong picture as government revenues have fallen against forecast since the Brexit vote last year. This is at a time when political pressure to find more money for the NHS and social care is growing rapidly and many of us also feel that we also need to invest more in our armed forces and security, given the unpredictable state of the world and the likelihood of conflict.

Given these pressures there is no prospect of the government being able to pull back from the business rate review, even though in some quarters it is causing concern. My approach is to support it, welcome the reduction for most local firms and fight for those who can make a case that they are being treated unfairly.

posted by Gary @ 09:35  



Thursday, 16 February 2017


I won my first election by 21 votes, after 2 recounts. It was the Mount Gould by-election for the city council in June 1986. Such a tiny majority did not affect the result: I was elected and the person in second place was not. That is our system.

In November last year Hilary Clinton won the popular vote in the USA 48% to 47%. She got more votes than Donald Trump. But that is not how they count them over there – they have a strange system of electing State by State delegates. Under their system Trump won 306 seats to Clinton's 232, an impressive win.

In 1974 the Labour Party under Harold Wilson won 301 seats with 37.2% of the popular vote, while Ted Heath had a higher vote share (37.9%) but only got 297 seats. That 4 seat majority, the narrowest of margins, was enough to keep the Labour party in power for 5 years, albeit with support from the Liberals. Under our system Labour had the right to form the government.

That is our system and for most of the past century it has worked very well.
In 2016 the British people voted to leave the European Union by 51.9% to 48.1%. A narrow but clear victory. If it had been 50.1% versus 49.9% it would have still been decisive. That is our system. The people were asked a question and they made a clear decision. That settles the matter.

I am setting all of this out in detail because every week I receive e-mails from constituents who demand a second referendum and who cannot accept the result. In particular they were insistent I voted against the bill to trigger article 50. NO! That would be to fly in the face of all of our democratic principles. The people's wishes must be carried out.

If we did not respect the referendum result our democratic infrastructure would be broken beyond repair. Churchill was right: democracy is the worse system of government ever invented….but he did go on to say…apart from all of the others!

It is now time for all of us, no matter how we voted, to get behind the stark reality that the UK is leaving the EU. Parliament will decide precisely how and in that process I will engage fully.

I voted to remain but accept the democratic instruction given by the voters. It is finished.

They have spoken. We must make this work.

posted by Gary @ 10:50  



Thursday, 2 February 2017


I very much hope that we are not going to have a story about Donald trump every day for the next four years but I suspect we will. What a bore. I am not sure what is worse, his ghastly attitudes, utterances and actions or the often hysterical reaction to it from the liberal elite and media. The US people elected him fair and square and he must be given a chance.

Most of us have met people like him before in our own lives: impossible to work with, bombastic and always right.

He is however the duly elected leader of the free world and as I wrote last week, wisdom dictates that the UK needs to remain close to him to ensure that we soften his potential for triggering World War Three. I know that the Prime Minister has taken much flak for holding his hand and inviting him to come to Britain on a state visit, but I applaud her for that. The closer she – the personification of sound judgement and commons sense - is to this man, the safer the world is. If they can strike up a good working relationship like Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, we can all sleep a little more easily at night.

Some people seem concerned that Her Majesty might baulk at meeting such a man during a state visit. However, in meeting some of the horrifying leaders of Arab nations whose human rights records are appalling and who oppress women in their own countries, the Queen is highly skilled at supping with the devil.

I cannot bear Donald Trump, but I do believe in democracy and old-fashioned political pragmatism. We have to work with world leaders whom we find distasteful. Realpolitik. We surely learnt the lesson that when we intervened in Iraq and Libya, to name but two, partly because we wanted to implement regime change, we made matters worse, both for the people of those countries and the wider region.

I am also a believer that people running for office and who make promises should keep them. Politicians are constantly being attacked for supposedly breaking our campaign promises. Trump is now being lambasted for keeping his. What did we expect? It is what his voters voted for.

We have a choice. He is the most powerful man in the world, known to be unpredictable. We can poke him in the eye or stay close to limit collateral damage. 

posted by Gary @ 09:42