The Socialist Alliance today invaded the wide open spaces in the Countryside Alliance’s bogus claims to speak for ordinary people in rural areas.
John Lister, the Socialist Alliance candidate challenging Treasury minister Andrew Smith in Oxford East, said:
“There’s a slump in average farm incomes to around £4,000 last year in Wales and even lower in Scotland. While the rural rich and their hangers on whinge about fox hunting, they ignore the real problems faced by working class people in rural areas. There is a real crisis in the countryside, one driven by agribusiness, the banks and the supermarkets.
“It’s a myth that our society is divided between urban and rural people. The real division is between the wealthy minority and the majority who rely on public services. Workers in the countryside, like workers in the inner city, need a higher minimum wage and stronger trade unions. They need investment in democratically-controlled public services. Deregulation and privatisation have stripped public transport in rural areas to the bone – forcing more people to rely on private cars and adding to the oil companies’ super-profits.”
At the general election we will offer our ‘Rural Socialist Alliance’ platform of policies, including:
- Big grants for small farmers to switch to organic production
- Incentives for small farmers to form cooperatives to share and reduce costs (some are already doing this)
- Incentives not to import or transport food that can be grown locally (energy and pollution implications)
- Turnover tax on multinational agribusiness and supermarkets
- Prosecute – and nationalise – the feed manufacturers at the root of the BSE crisis
- Investment in cheap, effcient and widespread publicly-owned rural transport – bus and rail
- Investment in active and diverse rural communities – community facilities, youth clubs, primary schools, environmental projects
“The Countryside Alliance doesn’t represent ordinary people. They’ll be paying nearly £400 for a night’s B&B in West End hotels laid on for their London demonstration in March. How many of their workers can afford that?” asked John Lister. “The Socialist Alliance is addressing the real problems facing the majority of people who live in the countryside. The rest is smoke and mirrors.”