What a Labour win in Westminster means for rural Wales

After a landmark Westminster election, new boundaries and no Conservative MP's left in Wales, we examine what this means for our rural Welsh members.
Senedd-RCPG - 1
Our Rural Growth Plan with the Senedd in the background. Photo credit: J Pearce

This week saw a landslide election in Westminster that meant Labour secure 27 out of 32 seats in the newly formed MP boundaries in Wales, with 4 for Plaid Cymru, 1 for the Liberal Democrats and notably none for the Conservative Party, even in historically rural strongholds. It also meant that a large swathe of these newly elected MP's are serving for the first time.

Clearly the Welsh rural communities have given a strong message of support to the different manifesto's during the election and with a strong Labour presence in both the UK and Welsh governments, there are unique opportunities to drive forward the priorities outlined in our Rural Growth Plan. As Labour takes the helm in Westminster, we take a look at the key needs and focus for the rural economy in Wales.

Rural Priorities

The CLA Cymru's "Generating Growth in the Rural Economy" report in March 2024, underscores the significant productivity gap between rural and urban areas in Wales. Productivity in Wales is 16% lower than the UK average, with rural workers being up to 35% less productive than their urban counterparts, generating an output of £18,000 per capita versus £28,000 in urban areas

Bridging this productivity gap could significantly contribute to the UK's economic growth, adding £43bn to the national GVA. With targeted support and investment, rural businesses in Wales can spearhead growth, create quality jobs, and enhance prosperity across our communities.

We congratulate Labour on their election victory and urge the new Westminster government to prioritise the unique needs of rural Wales. The success of our farmers and rural businesses is critical to addressing many national challenges, and their voices must be integral to policy development. A coordinated effort between Westminster and the Welsh Government is essential to unlocking the full potential of our rural economy. CLA Cymru is committed to working robustly with both governments to build a resilient and dynamic rural economy that benefits all of Wales.

Victoria Bond, CLA Cymru Director

Westminster and the Senedd

Wales is unique in that it has a landscape of 32 MPs (representing Wales in Westminster), overlaid with 60 MS's which represent the devolved Government in the Senedd, lead by Vaughan Gething. Their election is not due until 2026, so for the next two years we will have a Welsh Labour Government alongside one in Westminster.

The Welsh Secretary of State (responsible for Wales in Westminster) is Jo Stevens from Cardiff, whom the team from CLA Cymru will be meeting at the end of this month.

Collaboration between Westminster and the Welsh Government is essential to address the unique challenges and opportunities in rural Wales. A coordinated approach will ensure that policies are effectively tailored to the needs of our communities.

Our identified key priorities for rural Wales which we will be discussing include:

  1. Sustainable Farming and Natural Capital: Providing clarity and support for sustainable farming practices and environmental stewardship alongside funding.
  2. Housing and Planning: Reforming the planning system to expedite development, PDRs and support sustainable growth.
  3. Tourism and Rural Business Growth: Offering fiscal incentives and support to boost rural tourism and business innovation.
  4. Renewable Energy and the Grid: Promoting investment in renewable energy projects and improving grid infrastructure.
  5. Food Security and Provenance: Ensuring robust food security measures and promoting the provenance of Welsh produce.
  6. Infrastructure and Connectivity: Investing in broadband and transport links to improve access and integration of rural areas.

We look forward to continuing our work with Ministers in the Senedd and the new MP's in Westminster, advocating for these and all issues facing our members across the rural landscapes of Wales.

For more information and to get involved, please contact CLA Cymru at wales@cla.org.uk.

Key contact:

Jacqui Pearce
Jacqui Pearce Public Affairs and Communications Consultant, CLA Cymru