BY ANNE RUTH
For the first time in a long time, this Conservative Party Conference shall be attended by many furious exurbanites and rural folk.
What the Conservative Party must start doing is begin engaging with these people – the people – who have been forgotten about. These are the millions of people across the UK who don’t stand out because of what they wear, or their age, their sexual orientation or any other ‘niche’. They’re the backbone of Britain and they’re the people the Conservatives need on board in order to be able to govern the country.
Forget identity politics. Throw that divisive rubbish in the dustbin of history and refocus on your core.
What the forgotten masses can see so clearly now is that the establishment looks down on them and works against them. It’s Hilary Clinton referring to millions of Americans as deplorable. It’s Labour’s Emily Thornberry denigrating a house in Rochester for having England flags outside it.
The truly wealthy carry on regardless. They developed an economic system in the City of London and they set it up so brilliantly that even when some of them crashed the global financial system they stayed in their jobs and continued to rake in their massive bonuses. If anything, they profited even more as ordinary people bailed them out through their hard-earned tax money.
The Conservative Party needs to engage more with this profound moment. It needs to become radical and lose its current greyness and limpness. Austerity has been talked about but that’s the symptom; just trying to get more bandages on an open sore.
There is a growing political establishment in Britain which associates with none of the established political parties. The millions who turn to alternative media online or gather, as David Eyles so cleverly pointed out in this magazine, in our village halls. And that’s because at a time when people can see the utter contempt the establishment has for ordinary people, they are taking it upon themselves to be heard in numbers.
The rebellions are at their strongest not in the Camden offices of Momentum. They are loudest around the farmhouse tables and across the stalls of the village fayre. As councils ignore Neighbourhood plans in the Countryside, as central government fails to react speedily enough on rural issues (broadband, rural homelessness, ash dieback, second home proliferation, fracking and people who are buying our houses and then renting them back to us at extortionate rates), and as Theresa May appeases losing Remainers, the Countryside is increasingly furious.
Where is the Conservative answer to the radicalising of our youth by the socialists? Where is the support our farmers need? Where is the Brexit reassurance? Where are the anti corruption, anti nepotism teams to help bring down our council tax? Where are the tax breaks for rural pubs? Where is the coastal community assistance? Where are the resources for coastal and flood defence? The plans for rebuilding our fishing industry?
Tories need fear losing support from where traditionally it always came.
Eyes are on Mrs May and Mr Gove this conference. Stand and deliver or stand and get voted out.
Anne Ruth is a sheep farmer from Monmouth. Mother to four boys and a girl, she fears for the future now more than at any time in her working life. “You are not listening,” is her message to Conference today.