It’s a long way from Islington North | Tobias Phibbs

Helen Goodman MP’s rural constituency is the geographically largest that Labour holds. To walk around Bishop Auckland’s 356 square miles, taking in the hill farms in the north Pennines to the west and the former mining towns to the east, would take around a week. It is a long way from Islington North. Jeremy Corbyn’s…

That’s Tory territory, isn’t it? | Sandy Martin MP

When I challenged the Secretary of State to provide more resources for the Police in Suffolk in September, Sarah Newton, the junior minister, clearly mis-heard “Southwark” for “Suffolk” and replied that it was all the fault of Sadiq Khan. Leaving aside the blatant buck-passing that was going on, it is obvious that the Minister was…

Has Gove stolen Labour’s clothes? | Martyn Sloman

On 4th January Michael Gove made an important speech: as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs he outlined his vision for British farming after Brexit.  His speech received precious little publicity.  There has been no response to date from Labour.  There is danger here: Gove is an able politician and may well…

Sustainable Villages: Rural Housing for the Future

Having lived for much of my life in the Forest of Dean, a glorious forest and a group of small communities between the Severn and the Wye, I’m all too aware of the problems, and in some cases the opportunities, that present themselves on the issue of rural housing. As in most rural areas, we…

Rural voters and the price of milk

In recent years my campaigning activity has been limited, but having been made redundant from local government I was able at last to play an active role at the general election this year. I hit the streets with gusto wearing my ex-council demographer hat to find out the lie of the land. Now, being a…

LCC Fringe – Conference 2015

Sunday lunch-time of the first day of Conference 2015 saw over 40 members from across England and Wales gather to reflect on what next for Labour in communities of coast and country.  After moving to a larger room to accommodate everyone more comfortably, a wide ranging discussion occupied those present for almost two hours. That discussion…

Putting the people of coast and country at the centre of decision-making.

I have lived in Hampshire for a large portion of my life and worked in a local authority in a predominantly rural county, so have seen first hand the kinds of unique issues people face when living in the countryside – particularly when they are also dealing with challenging life circumstances such as unemployment, disability…

A Living Wage for Powys County Council – success for 6 strong Labour Group!

Despite the idyllic postcard look and feel to Powys, if you scratch the surface there is real poverty and deprivation – sometimes disguised by our rolling hillsides. The Independent-run council has happily allowed more than 1000 of its workers to scrape by on poverty pay for years, but since Labour increased its numbers in the…

The Coast & Country question: why should Labour bother with the rural vote?

In the last summer of 2013, I was interviewed on Radio Norfolk. They had recently heard about my campaign to get the Labour party to launch a “Rural manifesto” to reconnect with non-urban voters. Some had even read my Rural manifesto proposal – over-long and badly written, though it was. It was a terrifying experience,…