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 2011

I promised to report back on your response to my article on House of Lords reform. Over 70 replied (thank you) of which 5 wanted me to support the reforms and the rest authorised me to stand against it.  There was a widespread recognition that the upper house is too large and that perhaps a retirement age is necessary. One gentleman lambasted me for even considering voting against the commitment in our national party manifesto. I asked him if he voted for me because of this policy, and I have not yet heard back. I suspect not.
So I now feel liberated to vote against the proposed reforms and will follow the debate carefully and intervene at the right time.
It got me thinking about the proper role of MPs and the way in which we can be held accountable. In theory we are accountable every five years at a general election, but that is quite a long time if we mess up. We are introducing a right of recall to enable you to vote us out in mid-term if we misbehave, which I support. But accountability needs to be much more subtle than that.
Modern technology makes this possible. There are plenty of websites that attempt to keep an eye on us, for example where everything we utter at Westminster can be followed. Through that website you can receive a text alert (should you be so sad) every time I say something in the Commons, enabling you to rush to your computer to find out what priceless wisdom flowed. You can go to my website, which I ought to update more regularly, or contact me by e-mail and many do.
But here I put in a plug for traditional media. Had I placed my House of Lords article on my website I might have received a dozen responses at most.  I know how many people read my column in the Plympton, Plymstock and Ivybridge News because many of you tell me so.  At the last election one of my opponents was a brilliant whizz at using the Internet to publicise himself, but his vote went south because very few people actually followed it. 
A combination of old and new seems to work better. I intend to take soundings more often in the future and to use this column to do so. That way you can keep me under control between now and the next election.

posted by Gary @ 14:15