4 October 2000
‘BSE has divided town and country’

THE BSE crisis has driven a wedge between town and country, writes Jonathan Freedland in The Guardian.

The disease “dispelled forever the romantic pastoral image of Farmer Giles”, as custodian of the countryside, says Mr Freedland.

It was replaced with “a bleakly realistic picture of a modern agribusiness prepared to resort to animal cannibalism to boost the bottom line”.

Mr Freedland says relations have never really recovered between town and country.

“Rural voters may complain loudly about … a way of life under threat, but they get little sympathy from an urban population which has neither forgiven nor forgotten BSE.”

In the same newspaper, Gary Younge writes that Labour dismisses the Countryside Alliance at its peril.

He says it may look like “the provisional wing of the landed gentry”, but it boasts 80 full-time staff, 90,000 individual members and 300,000 affiliated members.

All this is maintained by an annual budget of 4.5 million.

Mr Younge says the alliance has successfully repositioned itself from a single-issue pro-hunting group to a body bringing together disparate rural discontent.

Director of communications Nigel Henson says the key rural issues are the demise of economic and retail sectors crippling the social infrastructure.