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Tuesday, 20 March, 2001, 14:35 GMT
Gary Streeter: Development spokesman

By BBC News Online's Chris Hamilton

Gary Streeter's career so far has mostly managed to avoid attracting too much attention - a stark contrast to the minister he shadows, International Development Secretary Clare Short.

But that is probably just the way the West Country lawyer likes it.


The chairman said it was a technical infringement of Law Society rules and I accept the consequences of the judgment I made in 1991

On the Law Society's tribunal ruling, 1998
A proud and committed Christian who once set up and ran an evangelical church in Plymouth, Mr Streeter is an ambitious, loyal, ferociously on-message sometime rightwinger.

Critics would only be able to point to two slip-ups: a 1,000 fine handed down by the Law Society for "conduct unbecoming a solicitor" and comments he made suggesting the Conservatives could not win the next election.

Mr Streeter was MP for Plymouth-Sutton from 1992 to 1997 and for South West Devon subsequently.

A tireless advocate of Devonport naval dockyard, he is an advocate of marriage as the cornerstone of the family and champion of countryside interests - especially hunting.

A one-time Social Democratic councillor, Mr Streeter converted to the Tories and inherited the Commons seat of the late diarist and former defence minister Alan Clark.


The Conservative party has not only renewed its commitment to marriage and faith-based schools, but is developing a social agenda for disadvantaged communities within Britain and abroad

On marriage and family in politics, 2000
Apart from serving a year as junior minister in the attorney general's department his highest post under a Conservative government was a brief term as parliamentary private secretary PPS to then prime minister John Major.

Following Labour's May 1997 election victory Mr Streeter spent time as deputy foreign affairs spokesman, paving the way for appointment to the overseas development brief in June 1998.

But the Law Society fine followed just two months later.

Mr Streeter had admitted working in 1991 for two clients whose interests potentially conflicted with each other, but a solicitors' disciplinary tribunal said there was no suggestion of dishonesty.

He insisted it was "a technical infringement" and his career continued without interruption.

Mr Streeter's approach on the Tory frontbench has blended genuine support for some government policies - including the confrontation with former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic - and fierce criticism elsewhere.


I think it's obvious that we haven't yet found our voice. We haven't yet perhaps fully grounded what 21st century Conservatism looks like

On the Tory party, December 2000
In March 1999 he questioned the timing of the humanitarian relief effort aimed at refugees fleeing Kosovo.

A year later he accused Clare Short of "a clumsy attempt to regain the moral high ground" over her reaction to Mozambique's flood crisis.

In turn she has more than once attacked his ability to do the job and called him "a very strange MP".

And his Tory colleagues were probably as strident in their views when he made a surprisingly downbeat assessment of Conservative election prospects in December last year.

"I think it's obvious that we haven't yet found our voice," he told GMTV.

They had not "fully grounded what 21st century Conservatism looks like" and with five months to do so, he went on, "maybe we won't quite complete that task on time".

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