Rural votes are up for grabs, says CLA

Every candidate in countryside seats at the next election should have a full understanding of how to grow the rural economy – that’s the message from the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) as it sends a pack of resources to each parliamentary candidate.

Due to boundary changes, a shift in public opinion and a record number of incumbent MPs standing down, this year will likely see hundreds of new MPs enter the House of Commons. These new MPs will have to quickly understand deeply complex subjects, from agriculture policy to connectivity, planning to housing.

Each candidate, from across the political divide, will receive a pack of information containing the CLA’s six new ‘missions’ – covering topics such as profitable and sustainable farming, affordable housing, rural crime and delivering economic growth in rural areas.

They will also contain an updated Introduction to Rural Affairs document, which the CLA sent to all rural MPs that were elected in 2019, to provide a rudimentary understanding of the rural nuances in policymaking. Other items include an ‘Answers to 10 key rural questions’ explainer, a template press release and a CLA Rural Powerhouse lapel badge.

The CLA, which represents 26,000 farmers, landowners and rural businesses across England and Wales, has been inviting candidates onto farms in their constituencies to meet local businesses and see firsthand how they are feeding the nation and looking after the environment. We will also be asking them to support our Rural Powerhouse campaign, which aims to secure political backing to help generate growth, create jobs and stimulate prosperity in every community.

“Politically homeless”
CLA President Victoria Vyvyan said, “People in the countryside have faced a generation of economic neglect and despite covering 85% of the UK’s land, rural communities feel unseen.

“Rural voters feel politically homeless and their support is up for grabs. There is still time for all political parties and candidates to grasp the key issues and help unleash the potential of the rural economy, and the CLA is ready to help their understanding.

“We will work with anyone whose ambitions match those of our dynamic and forward-thinking rural businesses. Whoever produces a robust and wide-ranging plan for growth in the rural economy will undoubtedly secure support.

“We encourage candidates to get in touch with their local CLA office to arrange farm visits, as well as encouraging farmers to engage with them.”

The rural economy as a whole is 19% less productive than the national average, with many barriers to economic growth such as poor connectivity, an outdated planning system and poor skills provision. By closing this gap, we could add £43 billion to the national GDP.

The CLA’s Rural Powerhouse campaign seeks to unleash the potential of the rural economy, creating skilled jobs and stronger communities in the process.


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