25 October 1999
Politicians failing rural people — Alliance
By FW staff
BRITISH politicians from all parties are failing rural people because the political system has prevented a sustainable policy for the countryside, it was claimed today (Monday).
Old-style adversarial party politics and successive government administrations were disastrous for rural people, said John Jackson, chairman of the Countryside Alliance.
The Labour government appeared to misunderstand the problems facing farmers and rural communities, he told delegates to the first Countryside Conference in London.
“The list of complaints is long and growing,” said Mr Jackson.
Labour appeared unable to help farmers who were “crippled by the consequences of an EU policy which has long encouraged and rewarded the wrong kind of farming.”
But the ideologies of other political parties were equally limiting and also failed to address the interests of rural areas, Mr Jackson indicated.
“It is clear that the old adversarial party political process has failed the countryside due to its inability to provide a sustained, long-term strategy for rural development,” he said.
Opening the conference Mr Jackson pledged to develop a new kind of political movement, largely driven by internet technology, to help emancipate the countryside.
The organisation be one with a broad-based strategic approach to the countryside which avoided falling into the same traps as existing political parties, he said.
“This is one reason why we are determined that the alliance will remain a political movement, not a political party,” said Mr Jackson.
“Arguably, political parties as we have known them are increasingly irrelevant to the lives of ordinary people – and certainly to those of rural people.”
The role of the Countryside Alliance will be to provide the back-up and information network for rural people of continue lobbying their MPs.
“We will seek to work with any political party or organisation which has something constructive to offer… and [we] will challenge all those who threaten the countrysides interests,” said Mr Jackson.
Other conference speakers at the one-day conference include Environment Minister Michael Meacher and National Farmers Union president Ben Gill.