12 May 2000
Farming ‘bleeding to death’ — Hague
By FWi staff
FARMING is being allowed to “bleed to death” by a government which arrogantly dismisses rural concerns, claims Tory leader William Hague.
Speaking in his Richmond constituency in North Yorkshire, Mr Hague said the Labour government was offering nothing but “phoney initiatives and summits”, reports the Press Association news agency.
“Put bluntly, the countryside faces an uncertain and bleak future,” Mr Hague said.
“Even if we could believe the governments own figures, the money amounts to little more than sticking-plaster for an industry bleeding to death.”
He said problems affecting agriculture were part of a wider crisis afflicting all of rural Britain, caused by the “urban culture” which prevailed at the heart of the government.
Mr Hague accused the government of arrogantly dismissing rural dwellers views and “trying to impose the values of Islington wine bars on them”.
He said many of “this urban elite” saw the countryside as “some kind of theme park, a kind of rural version of the Dome”.
The Tory leader acknowledged that problems facing agriculture existed before the election, but said they had got worse under Labour.
He said a Conservative government would ban food imports which did not meet British hygiene and animal welfare standards, introduce “honesty” in food labelling and cut red tape.
Already this year, the Prime Minister has addressed the National Farmers Union annual general meeting, undertaken a visit of the south west, and held a Downing Street farm summit.
These were widely seen attempts by the Mr Blair to tackle mounting criticism of the governments record on the countryside.