BY DOMINIC WIGHTMAN
The countryside versus the town is a phony battle that has been conjured repeatedly over the ages, mostly as an excuse by opportunist charlatans and self-preservers who generally had a foot in both. Nonetheless, there is something increasingly perverse about those who rarely leave the perimeter of the M25 casting judgement on those distant swathes of green where their crops are grown, and their steak dinners fattened.
Why is it in a time when Scots have their parliament, the Welsh have their Senedd and London has its own Mayoralty – where EVEL (English Votes for English Laws) have been made viable – that there are townies voting on countryside matters?
Is it really beyond the wit of man to devolve decisions about the countryside to those who inhabit and manage it? The distinctions between the North Yorkshire moors and the Surrey Hills are marked but those managing them have more in common, dare I say, than with Islington MPs or peers who hear the word ‘shooting’ and at once expect to hear Peckham or Lewisham.
Townies seem to so enjoy their visits to the countryside but few think on the seven-day-a-week labour that goes into fashioning the manufactured beauty they snap on their iPhones, nor the bloody battles that nature allows to play their course alongside them in the name of evolution in forest and field.
The caricature of a chuckling, old farmer with a piece of straw in the corner of his mouth, looking on from a nearby gate at a horrified townie stepping from their car and treading in a cow pat can now be officially replaced – apart from the townie – by an Isuzu-pick-up-driving farmer with a laptop on the passenger seat and web-gained knowledge of the latest weather patterns and farming technologies at his or her fingertips. The yokels of yore are almost all gone – those who manage the countryside are hardened and sharp – survivors well capable of administering their demesne.
Modern countryfolk know their stuff – more than ever before in history – and should be given a chance to manifest their democratic rights; to define what is ‘progressive’ and where the balances of nature lie, rather than heeding the draconian and destructive new philosophies of Marxists and other class warriors who see change to the countryside as vital to their vegan and colourless gruel of dystopian future.
There can be little doubt that the simultaneous perfections and imperfections of the countryside make those who live there seek change less. Who can improve the paradise of a summer meadow or the snaking of a forest stream between dashes of Easter bluebells? Who can better the freedom experienced pottering in a woodland or walking across the Downs where signs of enforcement are few and far between? No wonder the countryside breeds conservatives. Change for change’s sake? Not here – please, never here. Rural perfection requires stewardship, it is urban sprawl that requires constant ‘progress’ of rebuilding.
The Tories used to be the party of the countryside. Labour – the party of rewilding and culls. And now the Tories with their countryside majority can truly empower the country dwellers – not those caricatures of the past. Let us have the power to perpetuate God’s beauty, to reform only where reform is needed and to conserve the Great British countryside from those tower block dwelling loons and troglodytes whose concept of progress is twisted and treacherous.
There is a battle looming. One between the immense powers of the countryside – modernised and proud – versus flawed pretenders and mountebanks manipulating the innocence of cuddly animals and birds for their own unsound ends.
This day the fields of Britain – echoing the roars from battles of ages past – are coming alive again. Let this new roar yoke all fury and vanquish all oppressors who dare threaten the will and freedoms of great country people, who always know best for themselves and their land.
Dominic Wightman is the Editor of Country Squire Magazine.