A CLA poll on the eve of the Labour conference has revealed a lack of trust among rural voters – though many remain undecided.
Nearly 300 respondents have taken part in the poll in recent days, with 65% of CLA members saying they did not trust Labour to support the countryside, 6% saying they do trust Labour, and the remaining 29% undecided:
Country Land and Business Association President Mark Tufnell said:
“This snapshot poll on the eve of the Labour conference shows how far the party has to go to win over rural voters.
“Labour says it’s the party of the countryside, but so far its policy announcements have suggested otherwise. Persistent rumours around access and right to roam are of huge concern to many, while scrapping agricultural property relief and business property relief, as was recently reported in the press, would be so damaging when many farmers are already on the brink.
"Removing business property relief would hit family businesses no matter their size, and stripping away agricultural property relief would jeopardise the future of farms up and down the country, at a time of profound change in the industry adjusting to new agricultural policies.
“The poll also reveals a significant proportion of voters are undecided. It’s clear that whichever party produces a robust and ambitious vision for the rural economy will secure support.”
A poll earlier this year found swathes of the Conservative’s ‘Rural Wall’ are defecting to Labour after years of economic neglect.
Polling of more than 1,000 people in England’s 100 most rural constituencies revealed a -18% fall in Tory support and a Labour surge of +16%, putting the Conservatives (41%) and Labour (36%) almost neck-and-neck for the next General Election.
The Conservatives currently hold 96 of the 100 most rural seats in England, but applying this trend to the 2019 results would see them lose 20 seats in 2024. This includes the likes of Northeast Somerset and Sherwood, which would fall to Labour. And areas like South-West Surrey, which has been Conservative since 1983, would fall to the Liberal Democrats.