Tories no longer understand the countryside, says Alan Titchmarsh

November 30, 2012 9:29 am

According to the Telegraph, Britain’s favourite green-fingered chat show host said:

“Time was when the Tory party was the party of the Shires and understood how the countryside works…There seems to me very little investment in rural areas and the countryside. We have to look after agriculture and horticulture: growing things. This is how we feed ourselves.”

  • AlanGiles

    The question for you, if not Titchmarsh, is, though, do Labour understand the countryside?

    Or can you at least pretend that they do, and keep up the pretence throughout a general election campaign?.

    When you think of the countryside what is the first word that comes to mind?

    Green!

  • NT86

    Neither does Labour. Their time in government was so heavily biased towards London. It sometimes felt like some urban clique that looked down on people in the countryside. Any wonder why there’s little to no support for them in rural places?

  • aracataca

    I don’t agree with this idea that Labour is somehow inherently urban. It’s more a case that there’s a divide between urban and rural areas and how people vote, ie urbanites are more likely to vote Labour.

    Miliband couldn’t have made it clearer, in his One Nation speech, that he wants to reach out to those parts of the UK – southern, rural parts – that used to be seen as no-go areas for Labour.

    It’s interesting that Norfolk, now a Tory and LibDem stronghold, had some very impressive Labour MPs once upon a time – men like George Edwards for example, who was active in the farm workers’ union and from a very poor background. http://country-standard.blogspot.co.uk/2007/02/george-edwards-mp-norfolk.html

    With the increasing mechanisation of agriculture, former farm workers moved out to throbbing metropolises like Norwich (Norwich North and South hopefully will return to Labour at the next GE). The villages became more middle class and Tory.

    • TomFairfax

      Generally agree with your observations, however with one proviso. Those places within commuting distance of London or the major cities become more middle class dormatories.

      Those that aren’t within easy distance of work seem to be dying on their feet because you simply don’t that many people to work the land these days, and the ‘nice’ houses end up as holiday or second homes.

      In Italy the process has already gone much further. Places become full of the elderly who’ve lived there all their lives and the young have gone elsewhere to work. Those elderly then require services that are gradually centralised in the towns therefore more difficult to access.

      The countryside needs to become a working environment again or end up deserted or as a theme park.

      My thinking is that means to put it bluntly support for industrial/office mini-industrial parks in old or under utilised farm yards, or redundant facilities in market towns (not just redevelopment for posh country homes for city people who aren’t around to support the local businesses throughout the year) the same level of communications tech that can be accessed in cities to support the businesses, and a halt to the gradual monopolisation of commerce by a few large organisations that can indulge in loss leading promotions of key items to drive the local competition out of business (a practise banned in the free market US of A).

      I’ve no doubt you can think of a few other things.

  • aracataca

    Actually, when people say Labour ‘don’t understand the countryside’, they’re usually the types who actually don’t understand the countryside themselves. They might live there, they might like the *idea* of the countryside, and the huntin’ shootin’ fishin’ thing, but it’s not the real countryside as a farmer or farm worker would understand it. It’s more like a giant nostalgia theme park to them.

  • Gabrielle

    The would-be forestry sell-off and HS2 cutting through the shires are two reasons why the countryside is disillusioned with the Tories.

    Cameron might enjoy a ‘country supper’ occasionally – or at least he did – but really what he and the rest of the Chipping Norton set were doing was living a metropolitan life placed in an idyllic setting. (Aracataca puts it well with the ‘theme park’ comment.)

    Cameron knows little about the countryside and cares even less, apart from the fact that he takes their votes for granted. Now UKIP are on the rise, his complacency must be very shaken.

Latest

  • Featured Labour will make £250m worth of savings in Home Office to preserve frontline police jobs

    Labour will make £250m worth of savings in Home Office to preserve frontline police jobs

    Labour have published the first report from their zero-based spending review (ZBR) – the assessment of all governmental spending that the party launched in December last year to plan how to tackle the deficit. The ZBR is led by Chris Leslie, the Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, and today’s initial report is launched jointly with Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper, as the focus lies on her department. Today’s report announces that Labour would making savings to the Home Office budget of £250 million, and […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Featured Our response is not to carry on as before, but to adapt and change

    Our response is not to carry on as before, but to adapt and change

    When I last wrote for LabourList, in the wake of the Heywood and Middleton result, someone suggested that my position was that “no change of tack was needed”. Even the headline of that article “the overnight results only underline the nature of the challenge we all face” makes it clear that this is untrue. But I wanted to explore this challenge further – which is why I gave a speech recently on this topic. We owe it to ourselves as […]

    Read more →
  • Comment The talent we need to improve Labour’s image already lies on our backbenches

    The talent we need to improve Labour’s image already lies on our backbenches

    The message that Labour will repeal the bedroom tax and the NHS reforms and initiate a massive programme of house building and youth employment is lost in a morass of chatter: how well you eat a bacon butty, a badly judged tweet or a dodgy photo. And voters are supposed to make decisions that will affect them, their children and their country for ever. Labour must come to grips with that reality to give us any hope at all of […]

    Read more →
  • News Weekly Survey: Scottish income tax, Rochester & Strood by-election and Thornberry’s resignation

    Weekly Survey: Scottish income tax, Rochester & Strood by-election and Thornberry’s resignation

    Former Chancellor and chair of the Better Together campaign Alistair Darling weighed in on matters of fiscal devolution this week, arguing that income tax should not be completely devolved to Holyrood. “We risk ending up with the same institutional structures of the eurozone: an integrated monetary union without a fiscal union,” he warns, “No one voted for that.” Of the candidates for Scottish Labour leader, all have expressed their reservations about total devolution on the subject, although Jim Murphy has […]

    Read more →
  • News Labour will meet industry demand by creating more engineers by 2020

    Labour will meet industry demand by creating more engineers by 2020

    Ed Miliband has pledged that a next Labour government would train more people as engineers. In a Facebook post today, Miliband has said that under Labour there would be 400,00 more engineers by 2020.   Miliband notes that research shows “the country needs  approximately 780,000 more engineers between now and 2020 to meet industry demand – 156,000 per year.” But that at the moment “we are training less than half that – leaving Britain with a shortfall of more than […]

    Read more →