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, 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