Skip to content

Labour continues where they left off – ignoring the countryside

Labour's rural problem was known long before 2019. In 2015 Maria Eagle, after the General Election loss, published a paper:'Labour's Rural Problem' that made a series of recommendations that the party needed to adopt urgently.

In 2018, the Fabian Society published 'Labour Country' that again made recommendations as to how the party could reverse its decline in rural constituencies.

In 2019 these recommendations were ignored, and Labour went from 30 to 17 seats. When we consider that there are 199 rural seats, dismissing the rural electorate and their interests seems unwise for any party that is seriously seeking to be the party of Government.

However, losing 12 rural seats, including seats in the 'red wall', was not enough for the Labour Party to change tack and pay attention to real rural issues. The 2019 manifesto that wanted to ban hunting again went down like a lead balloon with the rural electorate. Yet that has not stopped the Shadow Defra team attempting to force through these ill-advised policies through other means in this new Parliament, at the very first opportunity.

As has been reported, the Labour Party is attempting to hijack the Agriculture Bill, a significant and crucial piece of legislation that will underpin the future of farming in this country for the foreseeable future, to ban all use of hunting with dogs. The Agriculture Bill seeks to replace European Union Common Agriculture Payments with a UK scheme, vital now we have left the EU. It should have nothing to do with hunting.

Worse still is how the amendments tabled by Labour would damage farmers. For example, a farmer who has used a dog to hunt rats, legal and crucial for pest control, would be excluded from receiving any financial assistance. The same would be true of anyone who used a dog to locate an injured deer. As such, it is an amendment that fails to consider farmers' livelihoods and animal welfare.

The exemptions in the Hunting Act are those which the Labour Government put into the Act because they recognised the need for pest control and the importance of being able to follow up injured animals. These exemptions had the full support of those opposed to hunting. Claims that any of these exemptions are loopholes is wrong, given that each exemption is subject to various strict conditions, and failure to comply with any of those conditions renders an activity unlawful.

Thankfully, Conservative members on the Agriculture Bill Committee saw sense and voted down the amendments that would have caused so much damage to farmers and rural communities. The Labour Party are continuing their misguided attacks on the countryside, using agricultural policy to pursue class warfare. It is high time the Opposition stood up for the countryside and focused on the issues that matter - digital connectivity, affordable housing and access to healthcare.

Recent polling has told us that only 1 per cent of rural communities view hunting as a priority, it thus remains a mystery that Labour would rather prioritise hunting with dogs over securing an Agriculture Bill that works for the countryside, and benefits the nation as a whole.

Become a member

Join the Countryside Alliance

We are the most effective campaigning organisation in the countryside.

  • life Protect our way of life
  • news Access our latest news
  • insurance Benefit from insurance cover
  • magazine Receive our magazine