Labour, Lib Dems and Greens take local rural seats from Tories

Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party are making gains at the expense of the Conservatives across England, as local election results roll in.

Labour’s shadow farming minister, Daniel Zeichner, said the results announced so far were a “massive step forward” for the party.

See also: Shadow minister hints Labour government will extend farm budget

He told Farmers Weekly: “There are many areas where Labour needs support in seats with significant rural hinterlands, areas which returned Labour MPs in 1997 and 2001, so I’m pleased to see good progress in places such as South Gloucestershire, where Labour gained six seats, and Tamworth, where we gained seven.

“There have also been some stand-out individual results, such as Isabel Saxby topping the poll in her seat in Bere Ferrers in West Devon.”

Tim Farron, the Liberal Democrat’s rural spokesman, was also pleased with the results so far.

He said: “It’s turning into another great set of local election results for the Liberal Democrats, and another kicking for the Conservative party which has taken rural communities for granted for far too long.

“Whether it’s failing to tackle rising food and fuel prices, selling out farmers in trade deals, or letting water companies dump sewage in our waterways, the Conservatives have turned their back on the countryside.”

The Greens have also made gains in key areas such as Mid-Suffolk, where a Conservative council leader lost her seat to the party.

Robert Goodwill, Conservative MP for Scarborough and Whitby and chair of the environment, food and rural affairs select committee, admitted it had been a “fairly difficult night”.

“Talking to farmers, they are very confused about the future of agricultural support,” he said.

But he added the reaction he was getting on the doorstep was more like 1992, when John Major secured a surprise Conservative win in the general election, than 1997, when Labour won a landslide under Tony Blair. He was a candidate in both elections.

“I think many people in the countryside want us to succeed, particularly when they see what’s happening in places like Wales, where Labour are in charge and there are lots of anti-farmer policies,” he said.

“Don’t write us off for the next election. It is all to play for and our trump card is Rishi Sunak.”

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