Sunday 26 February 2006 7.16am
I agree with Maurits. It is an interesting appointment.
We assume that the Countryside Alliance should be run by a Colonel Mustard, but why should it. I suspect the loudest voice of the countryside is from London refugees who having made their money want to preserve the idyll they have paid so much to move to. Yet, and another surprise, Cornwall is probably the only part of Britian that post EU enlargement will continue to qualify for European structural funding. Those 'grim up north' places were not likely to be poor enough to compete with Slovakia and Latvia. (Sorry Rabbie, I should Google and get my regional knowledge up to date, but this was certainly what was assumed a couple of years back.)
The divisions between rich and poor in rural places are as steep as they are in SE1. However whilst barriers to employment in SE1 are mainly poor education, ill health, caring duties, and some pretty amazing rates of illiteracy and innummeracy (can't get spell check on IE so hope my spelling has not failed me again) rural areas suffer from poor transport, poor employment opportunities and very low rates of pay. Housing, like here is a huge problem, with a real shortage of affordable housing, and private housing at prices that few who are brought up in the area can afford. Whilst beyond the traditional Almshouses and Abbeyfields, there is little provision of supported schooling and housing in small towns and villages, and access to many of the facilities we take for granted it are far harder in rural areas.
I have been surprised to find that rural organisations campaign for more homes to be built in villages, but on reflection it makes sense. They also campaign for things like better broadband coverage which makes home working and cottage industries more viable.
with her inner city background and knowledge of the system would therefore seem well suited. Even more so when you remember that she herself comes from a rural background and has consistently supported things like hunting which are important to the rural economy. Plus whichever way you vote, no one disputes she is hard working and will fight for the things she believes in. Plus, hopefully, help the Labour Party, and urban dwellers more generally, understand that social and economic issues facing the countryside are a lot more complex than is generally acknowledged.