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Country News - 2005

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Rural seats will have major election impact

Thursday 04 May 2005

ALTHOUGH the opinion polls are predicting another Labour win, today's general election results in country constituencies could be a key factor in the make-up of the next Parliament, many experts believe.

The Labour majority could be hugely reduced by swing-voters in the 60 to 80 rural and semi-rural seats which they captured - much to their surprise - in 1997 and held onto four years ago.

Although rural affairs have played very little part in the campaign, pollsters believe that there is a bitter groundswell against the Government in the countryside because of policies seen to be inflicting urban values on rural communities.

These include the ban the fox hunting ban, Right to Roam legislation, chaos over the introduction of new farm payments, and the failure to tackle problems like the housing shortage in the countryside and the closure of shops, schools and pubs.

Although the pundits are forecasting few changes in North Yorkshire, there are many marginal seats held by Labour in the Midlands and particularly in the South West which could swing to Tory or the Liberal Democrats, thus slashing Tony Blair's majority.


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