BY NOEL YAXLEY
90 years ago a merry band of visionary activists set out to reshape where we could walk in the English countryside. This group of young workers — made up primarily of communists — staged a mass trespass on Kinder Scout, the highest point in the Peak District. Known as the Ramblers’ Rally, hundreds of men and women decided to join the gathering planned for early afternoon on 24th April 1932. As controversial as the protest was (many were arrested and imprisoned) their act of direct action is credited by some as improving access to huge areas of land previously inaccessible to ordinary Britons.
You would assume that within some circles, the anniversary of this infamous act of civil disobedience would be cause for celebration. Right? Wrong. You see, a century is a long time ago. We now live in clown world. I will give you all a few seconds to take a deep breath, gather your thoughts and take a guess as to what the problem is.
Yep, you guessed correctly. Racism!
According to the campaign group, “Kinder in Colour walk” the history of the countryside is rooted in colonialism and exclusion. Those most affected appear to be ethnic minority people. According to their website they want to create a new culture for ethnic minority people that is “fully inclusive and embraces difference.”
I feel we are now approaching the end stage of identity politics. We have finally reached peak woke. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. The circular firing squad is running out of ammo. To have progressed this far with racial equality we are now left scraping the bottom of the barrel, searching for bigotry and prejudice in places where little if any exists.
Kinder in Colour walk are not the first to drag the toxic and divisive issue of identity politics into the countryside. In 2020, Ellie Harrison decided that the British countryside was racist. The Countryfile presenter claimed that Black Lives Matter led to her re-evaluating her beliefs. Citing a report from the Government’s Environment Department, the rural show broadcast a segment by Scout Ambassador Dwayne Fields about BAME access to the countryside. According to Fields, some ethnic groups felt the countryside was a “white environment.”
It should go without saying that more ethnic minority Brits should visit the countryside. The data shows very few take advantage of it when compared to white Britons. Does this mean that the countryside discriminates against black and brown people? Absolutely not. As I have said many times, not every disparity is a sign of discrimination. There are a multitude of factors available that offer a more plausible explanation. A vast majority of ethnic minority people live in large metropolitan cities. More than half of the entire black population of Britain live in London, followed by Birmingham. Areas not exactly known for outstanding natural beauty.
Anyone growing up (white or black) on a council estate in Lewisham or Sparkhill is less likely to spend time in the countryside than an affluent middle-class child in the leafy suburbs of Surrey. But when you adopt an ideology that only allows you to view everything through the lens of race, any other explanation is pushed to one side. Any possibility of nuance is swallowed up under the doctrine of ‘diversity’.
Socio-economics and racial demographics are not the only reasons why ethnic minority Britons may eschew the lure of the rural idyll. Culture plays a particularly important role too. Some may simply prefer a more cosmopolitan, hedonistic lifestyle — the nightlife, the restaurants and music scene.
If we want the next generation to get out and explore all the wonders Britain has to offer, then people need to be actively encouraged to do so. May I suggest better education and perhaps fewer school trips to Alton Towers.
Alas, we are living through a culture war. Every aspect of society is now framed through discussions of race and gender. As with all things identitarian, they suffer from the law of unintended consequences. If you really want to discourage ethnic minority Brits from heading to the countryside, what better way to do it than discredit it as racist. It sends the message that certain people are not welcome in the countryside, when in reality it is as open to them as it is for anybody else.
Whatever you think of the politics of The Kinder Scout activists, they fought for open access to land for everyone, regardless of race or class.
That is what we should remember. It is a shame our contemporary ‘radical’ activists don’t understand this.
*As a brief aside, it should be mentioned that I am fully aware of the impact too many people have on our national parks. But that is for another article.
Noel Yaxley is a writer based in Nelson’s county. After graduating in politics, he turned his attention to writing. Noel is primarily interested in covering issues around free speech and the latest lunacy in the culture wars. He writes regularly for The Critic magazine and contributes to a number of other outlets such as Reaction and Areo magazine.