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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, 28 January 2010

I am glad to live in a tolerant society, but I wonder if we have become too tolerant? The awful case of the torture of two young children by two older boys who hail from a household of chaos in Doncaster is an extreme example of a worrying trend. The Prime Minister told me the other day, in answer to my question on early intervention, that there were 50,000 "households of chaos" in the UK. We have become too accepting of people who have children and then bring them up as feral cats.
Tolerance has become the British disease. We have no fault divorce; housing associations hopeless in dealing with neighbours from hell; and people who have moved to this country and then want to destroy our way of life.
I am encouraged by the thought that things can change. We used to accept increasingly foul language and behaviour on mainstream television but after the Jonathan Ross attack on poor Andrew Sachs, we seem to have pulled ourselves up from this slide into the gutter and set new standards. The offensive suggestion of the demonstration by Britain-haters in Wootton Basset resulted in that group being banned. Perhaps we are turning a corner.
I hope the tragic case of the tortured boys will shift us onto new territory with neglectful parents. We should not accept people who bring up their kids like this, irrespective of their own upbringing which doubtless was imperfect. I recall the police officer who told me when I was first elected that 5% of the population commit over 80% of the crime. These households of chaos produce the majority of our anti-social behaviour, welfare dependency and social misery. They are one of the primary causes of crime.
I sense we are at a crossroads in this country, both economically and socially. Just as we need to put in place a new economic model which is less debt based and more sustainable, so we need to tackle the deep-seated problems that have beset us for so long. If it is 50,000 households, about 800 per constituency, that is a challenge; but it is surely not beyond the vast majority of us to devise systems of intervention and support that start to turn this around.
We should start by tolerating these people less. Then we should reshape our welfare and legal system to get to the bottom of this challenge in a much more rigorous way.

posted by Gary @ 13:25  



Thursday, 21 January 2010


It is unlikely that global events will dominate the next election, and yet there are hugely significant issues going on out there that could have implications for all of us.

The dreadful events in Haiti remind us that this planet is prone to natural disasters – with or without climate change. Unfortunately it is also a tragic reminder that the United Nations is hopeless at organising relief or aid, or anything much else. It is pathologically bureaucratic and moves at the pace of its slowest part. I feel sorry for the victims of this latest disaster, but angry at how slow the relief effort has been. The UN is a great idea, but works very badly

Man made disasters are an even bigger threat. The struggle against the Taliban in Afghanistan is important and has to continue, but the action against extremists in North West Pakistan is equally significant. What would happen if the government of Pakistan fell into the hands of the Islamist Fundamentalists? The rest of the world would be held to ransom. Never mind the twin towers, they could take out whole cities.

Also what if Iran does develop nuclear military capability, as seems imminent? They are pledged to wipe Israel off the map. Once Iran has the bomb, the entire Middle East region will stand on the brink of conflagration. It is certain that the United Nations does not have the will to stop them, especially as China seems determined to veto any real action against Iran from whom it buys so much of its energy.

China will within a short timescale challenge the USA as an economic power and soon thereafter in military muscle. Its government is still a rigid top down bureaucracy which seems ill-equipped to preside over such rapid economic growth. How the power game between the USA and China is played out in this decade will determine the kind of world we live in.

The only reference to foreign affairs in the next election is likely to be about Britain's role within the European Union. In terms of what might really impact our future, this is just a side show.
Britain still has a seat at the global top table and with our hard-won experience in diplomacy, peace-keeping and soft power we have a significant role to play in ensuring that this inter-dependant world stays as safe for our next generation as it has been for most of us.

posted by Gary @ 15:57  



Thursday, 14 January 2010

The church has many roles and sometimes it is to give cover to politicians to be bolder. After all, if the established church has already said it, you can hardly be accused of being too extreme in agreeing with them.
In the past week the call by the last Archbishop of Canterbury that immigration should be limited to a maximum of 40,000 a year in stead of the 200,000 plus we see today, was greatly to be welcomed. This will help politicians of all parties push for a more robust system on immigration, which I have long advocated. This is a small island and we cannot allow our numbers to grow without limit, nor for our traditional British way of life to be diluted by an influx of those who seek to live in a dramatically different way.
At the last general election, 5 years ago, any attempt to suggest a cap on immigration was roundly derided as being racist. The mood of the nation has changed and politicians are catching up with it. About time some of you will say. Agreed.
The world population has risen from 3 billion 30 years ago to 6 billion today. To put it another way, since England won the world cup, the world's population had doubled. It is predicted to rise to 9 billion over the next two decades. This is untenable. Never mind climate change, we need some kind of international consensus on achieving a more sustainable way forward. With global resources obviously finite and running out, at some stage world leaders are going to have to grasp this nettle.
Meanwhile here in the UK we must give a lead. Our current level of population seems sufficient in both urban and rural areas. Let us pursue policies that severely restrict non-EU immigration, at the same time encourage more buy-in to the British way of life, rich in diversity as it is.
One principle of British culture has traditionally been that when our brave armed forces are fighting for us overseas, we support them. The anti-troop demonstrations in Luton last year were a disgrace, as were the more recent plans by some to parade through Wootton Basset with mock coffins. I am all for freedom of speech but it is time to say very clearly to who seem to hate this country and all it stands for – if you don't like it here, please go and live somewhere else.

posted by Gary @ 09:25  



Thursday, 7 January 2010


If it is humanly possible, I advise you to hibernate for the next two or three months and re-emerge in mid March. If you can escape, seize the moment. If you have a gite in Gibraltar or a bolthole in Barbados, flee there immediately. The enemy I urge you to avoid is not just our exceptionally cold weather, although that is bad enough, but the dire implications of the start of the 2010 general election campaign that clearly began this week.

Now don't get me wrong, I believe passionately in democracy and each party setting out its stall so that voters have a clear choice. As I urged in my last column, please exercise your right to vote. But after four months of frenetic political attack and rebuttal, claim and counter-claim, riposte and parry, we will all be driven bonkers by the time the election actually arrives.

I am sure that I am not supposed to say these things, but my reaction to this week's frenzied launch in which I took part, was one of sorrow. I understand why we all do it, but it is far too early and possibly even counter-productive. Yes we need a campaign to tease out the strengths and weaknesses in the arguments and policies of each party, yes we need to test the party leaders and see what they are like under fire, yes we need to know what each party will do for us if elected, but that normally takes place over three or four weeks not four months.

There are some enthusiasts, who love all of this and savour every blow and counter-blow, drool over the nuances of each party's position on VAT on off-shore widgets, but they are a tiny minority. Most of us recognise the importance of politics at election time, but get very fed up with the constant argy-bargy.
I will not be starting my election campaign until Parliament is dissolved. I will be issuing no press releases condemning my opponents to outer darkness. Of course, if telephoned by the press and asked about the plans of the other parties I shall doubtless find myself saying that they are ill-judged or that the sums don't add up or both. Other than that, why don't we just get on with the job of serving the country and wait until the election campaign is called before we indulge in this ritual slaughter? Escape while you still can.

posted by Gary @ 10:20