28 December 2001
Tony Blairs record on rural policy

By Isabel Davies

FARM Villain Tony Blair did little to endear himself to the rural population during his first few years in power.

But the Prime Ministers actions over the past few months ended his chances of ever being regarded as a champion of the countryside.

Even Rural Affairs Secretary Margaret Beckett was left trailing in her leaders wake in a poll of almost 1000 Farmers Weekly readers.

Mr Blairs handling of foot-and-mouth and his refusal to hold an independent inquiry have left many farmers incandescent. But thats not all.

His decision to hold a general election in June, failure to pay agrimoney to arable farmers and his Partys stance on hunting left people fuming.

The king of focus groups is obviously not too bothered about his reputation in the countryside, according to reader Ceri James from Brecon, Powys.

“He has no sympathy for British farmers or people in the countryside. He will not be happy until he has got rid of all British farmers.”

Some readers objected to the fact the winner of the villain award will be sent a pair of wellingtons to encourage him to get out into the countryside.

Alan Marshall of School Lane Farm, Chilsworthy in Devon said: “Send me the wellies, Tony would not know what to do with them.”