Tory Rural Base Goes Cold, Labour Closing Gap in Rural Strongholds

It seems the Tories must now accept that even the PM’s internationally recognised performance during the Ukraine crisis is not enough to restore the party’s post-Partygate poll plunge. Any improvement – at one point drawing level with Labour – over the past month has once again been erased by the economic outlook, Rishi’s Spring Statement flop and the renewed Partygate headlines amid the first fines being issued. Labour’s increasingly consistent national lead at the moment makes the local elections look dire for CCHQ. Recent polling for the Country Land & Business Association (CLA) reveals that the Conservatives and Labour are now almost neck and neck in the Tories’ traditional rural heartlands. The polling has them just about leading…

This is partly because the Tories’ usual base, as well as recent swing voters, have given up on the party for the time being. The number one issue in the countryside is affordable housing (69%), followed by better digital connections (35%) – faster broadband and better mobile signals. The majority of those polled said the likelihood of young people obtaining local employment had decreased in the last 5 years and a whopping 79% thought lack of affordable housing was driving young people out of the countryside. So much for country folk being opposed to housing development… 

Jonathan Roberts at the Country Land and Business Association tells Guido: 

“This isn’t about asking for more money – if anything it’s about government getting out of the way a little.  We have so many disused old farm buildings that could easily be converted into modern work space to support local businesses – but getting planning permission can take years.  Many villages could do with five or ten new houses to support the local economy and give local families an affordable home, but applications for small developments are usually dismissed out of hand. Your rural staycation holiday is charged at a VAT rate of 20%, almost twice what many holiday destinations abroad charge. The list is almost endless.

“Government should show a little ambition and stop treating the countryside as a museum.  The rural economy is 18% less productive than the national average. Closing that gap adds £43 billion to the economy, creating jobs and opportunity in parts of the country that are too often left behind.”

If the Tories lose the rural vote they will lose the country. To summarise: the Tories are in deep trouble and have just two years – potentially less – to turn this around…

Data [PDF]: CLA_Survation_Polling_April_2022.

mdi-tag-outline Country Land & Business Association Data Guido Polls Survation
mdi-account-multiple-outline Jonathan Roberts
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