A Racist Countryside?

BY JAMES BEMBRIDGE

The hills and valleys of our National Parks are basked in bigotry, or so assert some mirthless toads at the BBC. Their latest effort to denigrate rural folk sees a section of Countryfile devoted to tackling the supposed barriers preventing ethnic minorities from venturing into the countryside.

Sombre music plays as a man intones a damning report of England’s National Parks. We are told the countryside is viewed by many as ‘a very “white” environment’. Clearly thinking this to be profound, the BBC sear the quote across the screen, letting it linger along with our intended shame. The report concludes that through this toxic whiteness, the countryside is condemned to irrelevance from the wider country that ‘actually exists’.

How do they propose we make the countryside more contemporary, then? Have the vicar end his sermons with drill music, or perhaps Mrs Higgins should add some wacky baccy to the next batch of brownies for the WI?

After a rather long and contrived shot of her walking down a woodland path, ‘ethnologist’ Beth Collier is introduced. She talks of the rural racism she has faced, citing someone who spoke to her of ‘the good old days when you could be racist and you didn’t have to be PC’. Yes, that’s believable. Perhaps her intro shot isn’t the only contrived thing about Miss Collier.

Behind its chocolate box facade, Britain’s rural life is indeed rife with racism.

It only takes one black face for some of the locals to become sheepish…

Then there is the problematic nature of the farming industry, replete with images of rosy-cheeked farmers rearing intolerably white cattle. And as PETA bravely announced, cow’s milk is, in fact, a hallmark of white supremacy…  In this ridiculous environment, one can only pity satirists like Andrew Doyle. Not only do the left write his material for him, but in doing so put themselves beyond the reach of his parody.

This apparent urgency to see more urban ethnic communities in the countryside was also raised in 2018 when Hilary McGrady was appointed Director-General for the National Trust. When greeted by the meek, frumpish and ruddy-faced guide women of National Trust estates, ‘radical’ may not be the word that pops into one’s mind. Yet radical is what Hilary McGrady wants for the charity, seeking a National Trust that’s less Brideshead and more Birmingham. As it happens, I can think of many Birmingham buildings in need of tearing down but few that are in need of conservation. Far from tradition, it is this fatuous virtue signalling which threatens to make the National Trust irrelevant and haemorrhage its loyal membership in the meanwhile. The BBC have made the same mistake in eschewing serious content for more youth orientated shows, not realising that a more rebellious and conservative generation Z cares little for such woke offerings. If only Labour placers would find a job where they belong – stacking shelves at Poundland.

The countryside is neither ‘radical’ nor cool – and why should it be? Nature’s charm lies in its intransigence to modernity. Living in the Peak District and frequenting its many tourist attractions, I can attest that no one bats an eye at ethnic minorities in these parts and I find it reprehensible for the BBC to suggest that we would. I suspect the only exposure some of these mangy metro liberals have had to rural folk is through viewings of Straw Dogs or The Wicker Man. That is, after all, how they seem to have reported on the Brexit-voting provinces over the past four years. Us troglodytes may stare blankly if asked for a hemp milk latte, but we are proven to be more friendly than our city-dwelling compatriots, and despite what the BBC may priggishly presume of us, our rural hospitality extends to all colours and creeds.

James Bembridge is Deputy Editor of Country Squire Magazine.