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26 August, 2004

Politics and the countryside

In an article about the balance between urban and rural socio-economics, and hence UK politics,  the BBC makes a rather challenging statement that:

Farming is no longer a major element of the UK economy.
No evidence is cited, though.

I'd suggest that many of the alleged incompatibilities between government approaches to urban and rural areas are dominated by a small number of high-profile issues (hunting in particular), but this must be compounded by a fact I hadn't appreciated: as shown in the BBC's graphic, the Conservative party dominate rural constituencies (the majority of England, by area; the article says Wales too, but that's sloppy journalism and the Tories hold no Welsh constituencies, so far as I'm aware) but are virtually unknown in the cities, and vice versa for Labour. This means the usual bipartisan political battles become characterised as 'urban vs. rural' conflicts artificially, perhaps by journalists seeking a novel angle.

As a whole, I do feel the article has an over-emotive editorial bias, but a sceptical reader will find several points of interest, which one can interpret for oneself.

I agree with one statement, if not in quite the way the author implies:

But only 2% of the population, according to a recent poll, believe pursuing a fox hunting ban is a good use of government time.
Agreed. Just ban it, and move on. Endless, circular debate is pointless; the issue has already been decided. The author seems to suggest the topic is a poor use of parliamentary time, so it should just be abandoned, whereas the topic is fine, the endless obfuscation and delaying tactics are the waste.

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