As a Labour candidate in a rural county council ward, I can see merit in this – despite my reservations about the Fabians.

The most worrying obstruction to Labour in the countryside that I have met in my conversations with residents, though, is a belief that the party wants to nationalise farms and farming land – a policy of which This Writer had previously known nothing.

Labour has no intention of privatising farmland – and hasn’t had any such plan for decades.

Other concerns include Brexit, yes – but many farmers voted for it. I find it hard to reconcile that fact with their concerns now it is being triggered.

Other matters are easier territory – education, transport and public services in rural areas are all of huge concern as people in rural areas are expected to put up with less, even though they pay more, as the article states.

This is fertile territory for a Labour candidate – especially at a time when the Conservative Government is cutting funding to devolved administrations and, thereby, to councils.

To be a national party which can win in the country at large, Labour must develop a richer understanding of the lives of people in our small towns, villages and hamlets. To that end, the Fabian Society is today launching a project to explore Labour’s relationship with rural areas in England and Wales. The project will look at rural attitudes to Labour and political priorities in rural areas and explore what a Labour approach to the countryside might look like – both in terms of a policy offer and a political narrative that resonates with the instincts of rural life.

The government has promised to match the EU’s common agricultural policy payments until 2020. But beyond that lies uncertainty and the prospect of losing tariff-free access to European markets while our markets are swamped by new, cheap food imports. There is also uncertainty about the future of environmental regulations. This could be devastating not just for farmers, but for the communities and traditions which their labour sustains, and the beauty of the landscape they steward.

But agriculture is not the only thing that matters in rural communities. From housing and education to transport and the closure of local services, the things which matter in rural communities should be the natural territory of the Labour party. People in rural areas pay more for transport and get less. Incomes are on average £4,000 lower than in cities and prices often higher. Market towns, remote countryside communities and former pit villages, have all been abandoned. In all of them, getting on too often means a one-way ticket to the big cities.

To kick the process off, we’re inviting Labour members in rural seats to fill out this survey and let us know your thoughts on the reasons for Labour’s failure in rural areas.

Source: The Fabians: Labour could be the party of the countryside again – with your help | LabourList

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