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.

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