General election 2024: the rural reaction

CLA Senior Public Affairs Manager Eleanor Wood summarises what the results of the general election mean for major political parties and for rural constituencies
polling station

When the exit polls came through last night, it looked as if the Labour landslide predicted by many in the run-up to election day was on the cards, and just before 5am this morning (Friday, 5 July) it was official: Labour is the next government. The party secured more than 400 parliamentary seats, taking many back in Scotland, and taking back many “red wall” seats that turned blue in 2019.

The Conservatives had a bruising night, losing more than 250 seats, and all of its seats in Wales. Many big players in rural areas lost seats during the night, including former secretaries of state for Defra Liz Truss and Thérèse Coffey, former farming minister Mark Spencer was defeated in Sherwood and Jacob Rees Mogg in Somerset.

The Lib Dems has been a big winner in rural areas, securing its place as the third largest party with more than 70 seats. The gains have largely been across the south west and the Cotswold’s, reclaiming many of the party’s traditional strongholds.

What will be noticeable is the many new faces in the House of Commons, with the majority of those entering parliament doing so for the first time; there are 485 MPs new to the chamber. There has also been a radical shift in rural representation; ahead of this election, of the more than 250 MPs representing rural constituencies, only 22 of those represented Labour, with the vast majority made up of Conservatives with the occasional Plaid Cymru or Lib Dem candidate.

Rural representation is much more diverse with 114 Labour MPs, 83 Conservative MPs, 44 Liberal Democrats MPs, 3 Green MPs, 3 Reform MPs and 4 MPs from Plaid Cymru. The CLA has been working with candidates ahead of the election, providing a guide to the rural economy and meeting more than 150 candidates over the course of the six-week campaign.

The hard work on legislation comes now that the election is over. The CLA will work with all the new MPs to ensure they understand the pressures and needs of rural communities.

CLA President Victoria Vyvyan said:

“We congratulate Labour on its election victory. The new government must listen to and learn from the rural community, as farmers and rural business owners can so often provide the solutions to the problems that government faces.

"We will work with ministers constructively, and perhaps at times robustly, in pursuit of a strong rural economy."

The new government must hit the ground running. From providing certainty around the farming budget to overhauling the archaic planning system, it needs to go for growth with a robust and ambitious strategy for the countryside

CLA President Victoria Vyvyan

“The rural economy is 16% less productive than the national average, and closing that gap could add £43bn to UK GVA. With the right support, rural businesses can generate growth, creating good jobs and prosperity for every community.”

Rural Powerhouse

Read the CLA's top six 'missions' for the government

Key contact:

Ellie Wood 2022.jpg
Eleanor Wood Senior Public Affairs Manager, London