David Cameron has lost the countryside

Abandoned by trendy urban Tories, the shires are in revolt — and heading for UKIP

2 November 2013

9:00 AM

2 November 2013

9:00 AM

When hunt supporters visit the office of a Tory cabinet minister these days, they like to turn up armed and dangerous. And so it was when a delegation from the Countryside Alliance arrived for a private meeting with the Environment Secretary Owen Paterson a few weeks ago, wielding an alarming new poll of their membership. Setting the dossier down in front of Mr Paterson (one of their few allies in government), they spelt out the bottom line: 13 per cent of Countryside Alliance members now intend to vote Ukip in the next general election.

Let’s be clear: given that the CA is basically the voice of the shires, that is only a shade less shocking than saying that 13 per cent of Mr Cameron’s own family intend to vote Ukip, although that is always possible, I suppose.

According to the poll, 66 per cent of Countryside Alliance members would vote Conservative if there were an election tomorrow, an almost 20 per cent drop in just a couple of years, while 13 per cent would vote Ukip and 2 per cent Labour. It’s particularly significant because this same poll a few years ago showed negligible support for Ukip and other parties.

Mr Paterson, who understands the countryside, was rightly worried. He saw at once that this wasn’t just about the vote, but about the whole network of support for the Tories outside London. It’s difficult to over-emphasise, for instance, how much the Conservatives rely on the hunt. Some 12,000 hunt supporters campaigned and leafleted for the Tories at the last election. They were the backbone of the party’s effort, pouring into marginal seats in an operation of military precision co-ordinated by a campaign group called Vote OK.

These farmers and squires had a spring in their step as they pounded pavements back then; they were looking forward to Cameron fulfilling his pledge to overturn the ban on hunting, showing that Labour’s class war against them was over.

But of course, it hasn’t quite worked out that way. Three years into a Tory-led administration and the once clear promise to hold a free vote on repealing the Hunting Act has come to nothing, the aggressive prosecutions of hunts by the RSPCA continue, and the closest the hunting community can get to vindication is a hint that the government might relax the ban slightly to allow Welsh hill farmers to protect their flocks by using more than two dogs to flush out foxes.

But the hunting issue is only the tip of this iceberg of resentment. To understand why rural Tories are so angry, you need to consider the rest of the CA’s poll findings. Asked what motivates them, they reel out a long list including HS2, fuel prices and planning laws that give developers greater power to override local communities.

The anguish over planning really isn’t just nimbyism. People who actually live in the country care about the communities there. They feel it is profoundly wrong to build thousands of houses in areas that don’t have the necessary schools, hospitals and transport links. And yet when they object — to housing on green belt or the high speed rail link ruining lives — they are dismissed as small-minded and self-interested. Nick Boles, the planning minister (and pal of Dave), suggests in response that green fields are overrated, which I suppose they are if you live in Notting Hill.

Hunting, meanwhile, has become totemic. As it did once for the Labour party, the issue has assumed for rural Tories the symbolism of everything they feel is wrong about the prevailing order. They are appalled, for instance, that the RSPCA seems to have been given unlimited access to the police national computer. They feel let down by Theresa May, the Home Secretary, who would not even consider changing the law so that film and video evidence gathered by saboteurs is subject to the same rules as that gathered by the police. They are shocked that the party that ought to be protecting them is effectively delivering them on a platter to left-wing animal rights nutters who want their guts for garters. The war against hunting folk that Labour started has escalated, and a Tory-led government has sat back and watched it happen. The sense of betrayal in these communities is visceral.

Whatever you think of hunting and fox welfare, the hunt supporters do have a point. Cameron was happy to stand up for them when they were wearing their shoe leather thin for him in the run-up to the last election, but now he’s lost interest — or, worse than that, he seems actually disgusted by them. Cameroonians talk quite openly of the fact that they’d actually rather be in coalition with the Lib Dems than win an outright majority at the next election, so as to be protected from what they call ‘swivel–eyed loons on the wrong side of history’. And yet they still expect the grass roots to support them in 2015?

I wouldn’t count on it. The CA polling shows that 64 per cent of people living in the countryside do not believe coalition policies are helping them, and nearly three quarters (73 per cent) think politicians are more interested in the views and values of city dwellers. They feel Cameron — always a keen follower of fashion — has abandoned them for fear of offending trendy urbanites who have no understanding of the realities of country life.

Just look at South Thanet, where A-lister Laura Sandys beat Labour with hunting help, only to declare her opposition to repealing the ban once elected. Traditional Tories pretty much burst blood vessels when they talk about Ms Sandys in her constituency now. Nigel Farage is tipped to contest the seat for Ukip at the next election — and why not?

The people I meet when I am out trail hunting, as the law demands, are at the very limits of their endurance. Take Julian Price, a 31-year-old farmer from Oxfordshire who canvassed for the Conservatives at the last two elections. Mr Price, who runs a 400-acre farm near Bicester which has been in his family for three generations, spent eight days canvassing in 2010 and estimates that he must have put thousands of leaflets through doors in target seats which then returned Tory MPs — Milton Keynes, North and South. The former saw a notional 6.2 per cent swing to the Tories, while the latter saw an even more thumping 9.2 per cent swing, both well above the average.

Three years later, Mr Price finds himself farming three fields away from the proposed site of HS2, which will cut his neighbour’s farm in half. And he is still banned from his favourite hobby, hunting with hounds. ‘I genuinely believe that Cameron has used us to get in and is now wiping his hands of us,’ he says, breathless with indignation. ‘All my family have always been Conservatives. But what they promised they would do for me they have gone back on. I genuinely feel that Ukip are more for us country people and farmers now.’

If Mr Cameron still doubts that the desertion of people like Mr Price is something to regret, he should consider the figures. According to independent assessments, rural campaigners were instrumental in winning 36 target seats in 2010. Overall, Vote OK leafleters were present in 58 constituencies which saw a significant swing to the Tories. A survey conducted by Professor David Denver of Lancaster university for the Electoral Commission following the 2005 election concluded: ‘There is no doubt that turnout was indeed higher in Vote OK targets than anywhere else. In targeted seats the greater the effort of Vote OK, the better the Conservative performance.’

‘What amazes me about David Cameron,’ says Mr Price, ‘is that I genuinely thought that with his background he would be better at representing the rural community. But he’s turned against us.’

Insiders say it is Mr Cameron’s firm belief that rural Tories are making empty threats. He’s quite convinced that even if they vote Ukip in the European elections, just to blow off steam, they’ll come through in 2015. He’s betting that they’ll be too horrified by the thought of a Labour government to actually put their cross in the Ukip box. But what Cameron doesn’t understand is that increasingly, Tories in the shires see no difference between Cameron and Miliband.

Perhaps Cameron is also relying on the fact that Vote OK is organised in part by his stepfather-in-law Viscount Astor, who is on the advisory board. Perhaps he feels that these people are essentially loyalists who, however turbulent they may seem now, will come to heel once an election is called. But most dogs, pushed to the limit, will one day bite. Those in the know say that he imagines that if he makes enough noise about repatriating powers from Europe, or leaving the ECHR, the countryside will rally round.

But if you ask me, this rather high-handed approach represents a fundamental misunderstanding of how deep the sense of abandonment goes. Rural Tories have finally woken up to the fact that Cameron despises them. He prefers the idea of Nick Clegg to his own grass roots.

And then there is that broken promise. Yes, it is only hunting, but as Clegg himself discovered, when you break a promise, people struggle to believe that you are going to keep another one. As one former Tory volunteer told me: ‘We may as well vote Ukip. We’ve nothing to lose.’

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Show comments
  • Two Bob

    If Cameron gets his way there wont BE a countryside….

  • Seldom Seen

    When you’re the heir to Blair, duplicity and deceit come with the job.

    • George_Arseborne

      Why this compliment ” heir to Blair”? Blair won three Elections under Labour, Cameron unable to win one against the most unpopular PM. He is actually heir to a slug. Please stop this nonsense comparison for Christ sake.

      • Any liar can win an election.

        • monty61

          Dave didn’t quite manage it.

    • Colin

      “heir to Blair” My aunt fanny…

      Heir to Heath, more like.

  • Nigel J. Wright

    David Cameron has shown a consistent ability to snatch defeat from victory on a number of issues. This is just another example of how out of touch he is with true Tory values. The countryside is treated with utter disdain yet City dwellers are very quick to jump in their Chelsea Tractors at weekends and school holidays to enjoy it. Perhaps they should remember those sweet joys when they are at the ballot box back in the in the smoke. Countryside and Planning issues are a ticking time bomb for the Tory Party, every bit as concerning as Europe, Energy etc. As to HS2, show me the numbers and I will blow the arguments out of the water. Simple fact is that they are speculative conjecture and cannot be proved. Spending tens of billions in hope rather than expectation is at best foolish and in any event whatever figures are bandied now can be doubled by the time of execution. Why are politicians SO naïve? a spell in business might help…..

    • Pip

      Cameron is not naïve, he is dishonest, venal and self serving and everything he does is deliberate and calculated and working in favour of the masters he serves.

    • rtj1211

      Which business were you suggesting?? RBS, which blew billions at the casino tables?? How about any number of City firms selling endowment policies through pathological lying?? How about in a management consultancy bugging people’s phones and computers to order????

      Business is full of criminals, charlatans and unprincipled venality too, you know…….

  • berosos_bubos

    I live in the countryside. In terms of fairness , it is the cost of petrol and subsidies to cities that need to be addressed. Foxes need to be dealt with as a pest control issue. There is a desparate need for additional rail and air capacity and with 10 million extra people whole new cities need to be built and that means bye bye green belt.
    I don’t know why we don’t just let the private sector get on with it, pass over a corridor of land and say build a railway or build a road and charge what you wish. Privatise the motorway network also.

  • Proud Right

    I’m a member of Ukip and it’s full of socialists. We need a true libertarian party.

    • bengeo

      Like this USA version?

      What is a libertarian

      The word means approximately “believer in liberty”. Libertarians believe in individual conscience and individual choice, and reject the use of force or fraud to compel others except in response to force or fraud. (This latter is called the “Non-Coercion Principle” and is the one thing all libertarians agree on.)

      What do libertarians want to do?

      Help individuals take more control over their own lives. Take the state (and other self-appointed representatives of “society”) out of private decisions. Abolish both halves of the welfare/warfare bureaucracy (real services) and liberate the 7/8ths of our wealth that’s now soaked up by the costs of a bloated and ineffective government, to make us all richer and freer. Oppose tyranny everywhere, whether it’s the obvious variety driven by greed and power-lust or the subtler, well-intentioned kinds that coerce people “for their own good” but against their wills.

      Where does libertarianism come from?

      Modern libertarianism has multiple roots. Perhaps the oldest is the minimal-government republicanism of the U.S.’s founding revolutionaries, especially Thomas Jefferson and the Anti-Federalists. Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill and the “classical liberals” of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were another key influence. More recently, Ayn Rand’s philosophy of “ethical egoism” and the Austrian School of free-market capitalist economics have both contributed important ideas. Libertarianism is alone among 20th-century secular radicalisms in owing virtually nothing to Marxism.

      How do libertarians differ from “liberals”?

      Once upon a time (in the 1800s), “liberal” and “libertarian” meant the same thing; “liberals” were individualist, distrustful of state power, pro-free- market, and opposed to the entrenched privilege of the feudal and mercantilist system. After 1870, the “liberals” were gradually seduced (primarily by the Fabian socialists) into believing that the state could and should be used to guarantee “social justice”. They largely forgot about individual freedom, especially economic freedom, and nowadays spend most of their time justifying higher taxes, bigger government, and more regulation. Libertarians call this socialism without the brand label and want no part of it.

      How do libertarians differ from “conservatives”?

      For starters, by not being conservative. Most libertarians have no interest in returning to an idealized past. More generally, libertarians hold no brief for the right wing’s rather overt militarist, racist, sexist, and authoritarian tendencies and reject conservative attempts to “legislate morality” with censorship, drug laws, and obnoxious Bible-thumping. Though libertarians believe in free-enterprise capitalism, we also refuse to stooge for the military-industrial complex as conservatives are wont to do.

      Do libertarians want to abolish the government?

      Libertarians want to abolish as much government as they practically can. About 3/4 are “minarchists” who favor stripping government of most of its accumulated power to meddle, leaving only the police and courts for law enforcement and a sharply reduced military for national defense (nowadays some might also leave special powers for environmental enforcement). The other 1/4 (including the author of this FAQ) are out-and-out anarchists who believe that “limited government” is a delusion and the free market can provide better law, order, and security than any goverment monopoly.

      Also, current libertarian political candidates recognize that you can’t demolish a government as large as ours overnight, and that great care must be taken in dismantling it carefully. For example, libertarians believe in open borders, but unrestricted immigration now would attract in a huge mass of welfare clients, so most libertarians would start by abolishing welfare programs before opening the borders. Libertarians don’t believe in tax-funded education, but most favor the current “parental choice” laws and voucher systems as a step in the right direction.

      Progress in freedom and prosperity is made in steps. The Magna Carta, which for the first time put limits on a monarchy, was a great step forward in human rights. The parliamentary system was another great step. The U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, which affirmed that even a democratically-elected government couldn’t take away certain inalienable rights of individuals, was probably the single most important advance so far. But the journey isn’t over.

      What’s the difference between small-l libertarian and big-l Libertarian?

      All Libertarians are libertarians, but not the reverse. A libertarian is a person who believes in the Non-Coercion Principle and the libertarian program. A Libertarian is a person who believes the existing political system is a proper and effective means of implementing those principles; specifically, “Libertarian” usually means a member of the Libertarian Party, the U.S.’s largest and most successful third party. Small-ell libertarians are those who consider the Libertarian Party tactically ineffective, or who reject the political system generally and view democracy as “the tyranny of the majority”.

      How would libertarians fund vital public services?

      By privatizing them. Taxation is theft — if we must have a government, it should live on user fees, lotteries, and endowments. A government that’s too big to function without resorting to extortion is a government that’s too big, period. Insurance companies (stripped of the state-conferred immunities that make them arrogant) could use the free market to spread most of the risks we now “socialize” through government, and make a profit doing so.

      What would a libertarian “government” do and how would it work?

      Enforce contracts. Anarcho-libertarians believe the “government” in this sense can be a loose network of rent-a-cops, insurance companies, and for-profit arbitration boards operating under a shared legal code; minarchists believe more centralization would be necessary and envision something much like a Jeffersonian constitional government. All libertarians want to live in a society based (far more than ours now is) on free trade and mutual voluntary contract; the government’s job would be strictly to referee, and use the absolute minimum of force necessary to keep the peace.

      What is the libertarian position on abortion?

      Most libertarians are strongly in favor of abortion rights (the Libertarian Party often shows up at pro-rights rallies with banners that say “We’re Pro-Choice on Everything!”). Many libertarians are personally opposed to abortion, but reject governmental meddling in a decision that should be private between a woman and her physician. Most libertarians also oppose government funding of abortions, on the grounds that “pro-lifers” should not have to subsidize with their money behavior they consider to be murder.

      What is the libertarian position on minority, gay & women’s rights?

      Libertarians believe that every human being is entitled to equality before the law and fair treatment as an individual responsible for his or her own actions. We oppose racism, sexism, and sexual-preference bigotry, whether perpetrated by private individuals or (especially) by government. We reject racial discrimination, whether in its ugly traditional forms or in its newer guises as Affirmative Action quotas and “diversity” rules.

      We recognize that there will always be bigotry and hatred in the world, just as there will always be fear and stupidity; but one cannot use laws to force understanding any more than one can use laws to force courage or intelligence. The only fair laws are those that never mention the words “black” or “white”; “man” or “woman”; “gay” or “straight”. When people use bigotry as an excuse to commit force or fraud, it is the act itself which is the crime, and deserves punishment, not the motive behind it.

      What is the libertarian position on gun control?

      Consistently opposed. The revolutionaries who kicked out King George based their call for insurrection on the idea that Americans have not only the right but the duty to oppose a tyrannical government with force — and that duty implies readiness to use force. This is why Thomas Jefferson said that “Firearms are the American yeoman’s liberty teeth” and, in common with many of the Founding Fathers, asserted that an armed citizenry is the securest guarantee of freedom. Libertarians assert that “gun control” is a propagandist’s lie for “people control”, and even if it worked for reducing crime and violence (which it does not; when it’s a crime to own guns, only criminals own them) it would be a fatally bad bargain.

      What is the libertarian position on art, pornography and censorship?

      Libertarians are opposed to any government-enforced limits on free expression whatsoever; we take an absolutist line on the First Amendment. On the other hand, we reject the “liberal” idea that refusing to subsidize a controversial artist is censorship. Thus, we would strike down all anti-pornography laws as unwarranted interference with private and voluntary acts (leaving in place laws punishing, for example, coercion of minors for the production of pornography). We would also end all government funding of art; the label of “artist” confers no special right to a living at public expense.

      B5. What is the libertarian position on the draft?

      We believe the draft is slavery, pure and simple, and ought to be prohibited as “involuntary servitude” by the 13th Amendment. Any nation that cannot find enough volunteers to defend it among its citizenry does not deserve to survive.

      What is the libertarian position on the “drug war”?

      That all drugs should be legalized. Drug-related crime (which is over 85% of all crime) is caused not by drugs but by drug laws that make the stuff expensive and a monopoly of criminals. This stance isn’t “approving” of drugs any more than defending free speech is “approving” of Nazi propaganda; it’s just realism — prohibition doesn’t work. And the very worst hazard of the drug war may be the expansion of police powers through confiscation laws, “no-knock” warrants and other “anti-drug” measures. These tactics can’t stop the drug trade, but they are making a mockery of our supposed Constitutional freedoms.

      Libertarians would leave in place laws against actions which directly endanger the physical safety of others, like driving under the influence of drugs, or carrying a firearm under the influence.

      What would libertarians do about concentrations of corporate power?

      First of all, stop creating them as our government does with military contractors and government-subsidized industries. Second, create a more fluid economic environment in which they’d break up. This happens naturally in a free market; even in ours, with taxes and regulatory policies that encourage gigantism, it’s quite rare for a company to stay in the biggest 500 for longer than twenty years. We’d abolish the limited-liability shield laws to make corporate officers and stockholders fully responsible for a corporation’s actions. We’d make it impossible for corporations to grow fat on “sweetheart deals” paid for with taxpayers’ money; we’d lower the cost of capital (by cutting taxes) and regulatory compliance (by repealing regulations that presume guilt until you prove your innocence), encouraging entrepreneurship and letting economic conditions (rather than government favoritism) determine the optimum size of the business unit.

  • George_Arseborne

    Why are the CA shocked with Camoroon behavior? It is obvious that he is a LibDem stooge. He can not and will never win an outright majority. He is out after 2015. The wobbling Cameron wanted his name to be written down as one time British Prime Minister. He has achieved that through people like you. No matter how angry you guys are will change nothing. Vote for a powerful Leader. Vote Ed Milliband. Yeah!Yeah

    • Pip

      Miliband is a Marxist fool who will serve this country up on a plate to the EU.

      • Ratman2

        Absolutely spot on.

  • Kyle Harrison

    The countryside and the Conservatives have always had a weird relationship. Just look at the divide between rural Conservatives and the reformers such as Peel in the 19th Century when the Corn Laws were abolished. It’s nothing new, rural Tories being pissed with the urban elite in London.

    People in the countryside are obviously true, and by true I mean literal, conservatives. They are in love with green fields, trees and lakes. Industrial progress, more people, bigger cities is obviously something a country lover will always dislike. However, the Conservative Party is not just a party for literal conservatives. It is also the party of capitalists, industrialists and money makers. At times these bedfellows will have more in common with each other than they do with socialists but sometimes they will fall out, and over issues such as HS2 and urban development and growth the fall out is unsurprising. I doubt that UKIP will start winning country seats in 2015.

    • black11hawk

      Kyle, you’re right on all counts, although UKIP may be in with a chance for one seat if they play their cards right. But the alliance between rural Tories and urban Conservatives doesn’t explain why Cameron would do nothing about hunting an issue which literally has no effect upon the lives of city dwellers. The only answer can be that he is trying to reach out to urban middle class floating voters. The question is will he gain more votes from the latter than he loses from the former.

      • rtj1211

        The answer is that the Libdems wouldn’t support it and nor would Labour, so Cameron would lose. Neither the Labour Party nor the Libdems are obliged to support hunting, whether you agree with it or not (and I certainly agree with humane control of the fox population in the countryside). Quite frankly, there are far more immediate- and serious challenges facing the country than hunting (energy bills, rural broadband, public transport services in rural areas) and it amazes me that so many are so childish not to realise that.

        • Old Nick

          You may find it childish. Those who are regularly faced with the possibility of prosecution on the basis of evidence cooked up by busybodies with carefully-angled cameras find it a little more tiresome.

  • M. Wenzl

    How marginal are countryside constituencies? I’m guessing not particularly. Why would anyone vote Labour in the countryside? Plus, even if the number of Countryside Alliance members who intend to vote Tory has fallen to 66%, that’s still a lot of people supporting Cameron. UKIP may cut into their vote but it’s not exactly going to lose the Tories seats.

  • Doggie Roussel

    Even Churchill, a greater statesman than Cameron can ever hope to be, was called a traitor to his class.

    Cameron, with his Bullingdon pretensions and imbued with such arrogance and disdain for his electorate, comforts himself with the delusion that he can ignore his hitherto guaranteed support from the shires and blithely break yet another promise, the repeal of the hunting ban.

    He slimed into power with the compromise of throwing in his lot with the most feeble-minded, principle-free and wishy-washy collection of political nobodies and poltroons, the Liberal Democrats. And this coup de foudre was achieved against an immensely unpopular Labour government led by that Cyclopean psychopath, Gordon Brown. He, Cameron, erected a toy wind turbine on his roof, apparently to bolster his green credentials, but in fact to show support for his avaricious father-in-law, who profits by about £ 350,000 a year from the accommodation of these hideous and inefficient monstrosities.

    When I asked one of Cameron’s main lickspittle lapddogs, Damian Green, our local MP, what the prospects were for a repeal of the hunting ban, he advised me there was no chance, as they were stymied by their alliance with the LibDems.

    As we are with any future legislation that might be normally be expected of a Conservative government.

    UKIP will be a catalyst for a humongous sea change in British politics.

    • rtj1211

      So you believe in a party which didn’t gain an electoral majority enacting all its wishes do you?

      For all your smug pseudo-superiority, for all you arrogant condescension, all you are is a spolit little boy throwing his toys out of the pram because the British Electorate didn’t agree to be your mistress.

      • Doggie Roussel

        Nuuuurse…. Quiiiiiiiick …..

  • Flintshire Ian

    I agree with most of your opinions. But voting UKIP and getting Labour isn’t very helpful to the hunting set or indeed to the rest of us who aren’t immigrants or on welfare.

  • simmo70


    It is beyond logical thinking that any modern day
    Political Party has any consideration for us the General Public with one
    exception ,they need our vote to Legitimise them for Government Office .

    We pontificate and argue amongst ourselves but over what
    ,we haven’t a clue what really is happening behind closed doors .Core Labour
    & Tory values were about this Country but Politicians have moved on from
    this Country and are now on the World stage .Whether or not they have realised
    that their BS has run its course after Blair Basically ‘outing ‘ himself as a charlatan
    and in Politics for his own ends or his Paymasters we can only guess.

    They have demoted Britain to a Third World Country with
    their Draconian Reforms .Reform is for the Better not a clock turning back exercise
    .The Bedroom Tax was introduced as a
    means of trying to remove established family environments from their base
    instead of dealing with an acute Housing Shortage due to Immigration .Government
    have been given the Green Light for Workfare by yesterdays ruling they will
    just tweak the Law accordingly .Where was the Tory opposition when Blair was
    Raping & Pillaging the Public and handing back a £7 billion British subsidy
    to the EU. Politicians have got

    more front than
    Blackpool .BSB


  • Peter Stroud

    Although I am a member of the Countryside Alliance, and follow hounds: I cannot blame Cameron for not trying to repeal the vindictive hunting act. Why? Because he would have lost, and lost badly. Any repeal must await a considerable Tory majority. However, the treachery of Laura Sandys is a disgrace. Clearly her local party either failed to get her views on hunting, before selecting her, or deliberately let down the many CA members who helped her to be elected. Also, the loopholes involving anti hunting RSPCA evidence, should be closed. There is no excuse not to.

    • Doggie Roussel

      The logic here is that Dave should ally himself with a party whose aims and policies are closet to typical Tory aspirations…. which certainly kicks those truly awful, prevaricating, political midgets the LibDems into touch.

      With UKIP attracting traditional Labour voters who are fed up with the pinky-fingered, minority-espousing, pseudo-intellectual approach which has New Labour writ large all over it, as well as voicing the innate feelings of all those traditional Tory voters on whom the pathological fear of the left gaining and maintaining a hold on the electorate is the thinnest of threads to which Dave and his Bullingdon-influenced, presumptuous clique of arrogant parvenus cling.

      There are no alternatives for the Tories than returning to the core values of their party and, if this is unconscionable for them, they must ally themselves with those who most closely strive to attain what is essential to their original and core values.

      The wretched LibDems are not worthy of a millisecond of consideration in this dread and vital consideration.

      • rtj1211

        Name a political party of substance whose everyday conversation is so filled with invective and hatred which actually got elected??

        The world would be a better place if you were the fox in the next round of hunting, and I for one would not grant you either a funeral or a grave after happily shooting you through the head to end your miserable existence.

        Your rubbish, your venality and basic disrespect for anyone who does not bow down to your own narrow views marks you down as a dictatorial anti-democrat and the world has no place for your kind any more.

        Save your children by killing yourself, you revolting pile of prejudiced excrement.

        • Doggie Roussel

          You are Alastair Campbell in drag, and I claim my £ 5.00….

        • Doggie Roussel

          Have you considered anger management, Mahatma ?

    • Bugger the hunting act. If everyone ignored it, what could the bastards do?

  • Carlo

    It doesn’t matter who we vote for as our policies are all European policies. HS2 is part of the European transport plan, Cameron or any other British PM doesn’t have a choice. The same for energy, law, housing, agriculture, animal welfare, etc, etc. Since we were sold to Europe and relinquished our constitution when our Queen signed away our rights to determine our own futures, we have had no choice.

    • rtj1211

      Go check your facts: HS2 is NOT required by european law, a template for an integrated system was laid out and each country HAS THE RIGHT TO IMPLEMENT IT OR NOT.

      I know this is impossible for closed minds like you to even investigate, let alone come to terms with, but HS2 would already have been built if it were solely up to Brussels.

      Show me the legislation which impels the UK to build HS2 or stand corrected.

  • Julian Greenman

    After reading the above I can now see why the hunting ban has not been repealed. I feel now that the conservatives are no better than labour where hunting is concerned, the only difference is labour didn’t break their promise to ban it but the conservatives have broken theirs by not repealing it.Unless things change I will be voting UKIP or not at ALL.

    • Phil Hobbins

      Not voting is effectively a vote for the LibLabCon and the Status Quo.

  • rhys

    There’s no guarantee LibDems will hold all their current seats.

    If they lose – say – 20 to Labour, even if Clegg is re-elected he will have lost what moral claim he has on the leadership.

    One scenario would be Labour have a few more seats than Tories, but not an outright majority.
    Since Clegg insisted on Labour changing its Leader as a condition of going into coalition Milliband could properly do the same : Cable would be much happier going into coalition with Labour and Clegg would be deposed if he resisted.

    Cable makes a referendum on full PR ( which Milliband also favours ) the sole condition of coalition – the country votes for full PR within a year of 2015 and the next election is held under a fair voting system.

    What’s not to like for UKIP supporters ? A Labour minority Govt. in 2015 is a fair exchange for Fair Votes at the following election.

    Cameron and his Bullingdonian chums underestimate how vile and loathesome they are.
    Even if his policies are – in part – less than ideal my own view is that Milliband comes across as the more serious, moral, thinking, politician. He believes in something – whereas it’s plain as a pikestaff the C word believes in NOTHING save his own Etonian / Divine Right to Rule. Yuck. None of the 3 of them have ever worked in a real job.
    At least M hasn’t grown fat and podgy on his stipend – unlike C and C.

    No wonder they are terrified of a debate with N. Farage as one of the participants.

    And that could happen as well if UKIP get more votes in 2014 than Lib Dems – how can BBC then deny Farage participation in the 2015 Leaders’ debates and permit a Leader with fewer votes at the most recent election to participate ?

    The Judges might have something to say on such a blatant breach of the Charter.

    So yes, it’s perfectly logical for UKIP supporters to vote like hell for UKIP in 2015 as well as 2014.

  • JonBW

    Conservative disaffection with Cameron is not about any single political issue: it’s about a whole range, including the abandonment of social conservative values, failure to offer a referendum on the EU, unsustainable immigration, concreting over the countryside and the failure to overturn petty restrictions on liberty such as
    the smoking and hunting bans.

    The Euro elections next year will show very clearly that UKIP hasn’t gone away. There is an appetite for a ‘real’ Conservative Party that will ultimately have a profound impact on politics in this country.

  • morbidfascination

    “But what Cameron doesn’t understand is that increasingly, Tories in the shires see no difference between Cameron and Miliband.”

    This doesn’t apply to the shires – the same applies to a lot of us city dwellers.

  • Shorne

    I’m puzzled as to why they are turning to UKIP whose policy on hunting seems to be allowing ‘local communities’ to decide. The last IPSOS/MORI poll on the subject that I could find shows 75% of the population as a whole against hunting with 72% in ‘rural communities against so what’s the point? and why is the CA described as the ‘voice of the Shires’
    Oh…unless they think UKIP will let them hunt immigrants(?)

  • Bonnielad

    David Cameron has turned out to be as treacherous as Tony Blair. But HS2 will be his poll tax – the final political miscalculation that sees him replaced as Tory leader. Too late for me in any case. I’m voting UKIP till I turn my boots up now and so’s my wife.

    • rtj1211

      I do hope you don’t use HS1 or Heathrow airport: if you do, a hangman’s noose should await you.

      • Doggie Roussel

        Nutter alert !

  • Alex_Cheshire

    The Tory party has turned from capitalism to corporatism, and has thrown away it’s principals, that is why it’s losing support.

  • flangini110

    An EU supporter is just a step away from €MU. With a bit of luck they will emulate their namesake in Tasmania.

  • In2minds

    “David Cameron has lost the countryside” –

    And that’s just part of the problem!

  • Heather Alibakir

    Maybe I missed it but I didn’t see any of the for hunting and against HS2 grumblers complaining against wind farming. Strange? but not so strange: for many of them are the owners of large tranches of land which they are converting from agricultural use into mimimum input, industrial cash cows in return for oodles of public money.

  • peteran

    “Listen to me!” That was your catchphrase. And the nation cocked its ear, and replied, “No chance. Adhere as many stickers as you like to your 4x4s, and we’ll still be deaf to your pleas.”

    Yes, you can get out your staff to make up your numbers, and we’re still going to ignore you. Turn up at Parliament Square, and the police will still beat you up, even though you supported them when they beat up previous protestors. The fact is, you’re a bunch of nobodies. Yes, you can dream of the days when you had influence, but, in reality, they’re long gone.

    So by all means desert the Tories for UKIP. You think you’re so strong and so many, but you’re really nothing. It’s the people in the cities who have the votes, and they just don’t care about you.

    You’re just another tiny, self-interested pressure group. Get used to it. Nobody, least of all David Cameron, cares about what you care about. And why should he?

  • grthjjukuuui

    Tories have lost because they are no different from Labour selling out Brits to the EU and allowing millions of immigrants in to drive down wages

    Please sign the Daily Express petition to stop EU
    immigration. 18,000 have signed online (thousands more on paper) in less than
    three days


  • FairBobby

    The simple truth is that Cameron is really a socialist. His admiration of Tony Blair was manifest and he is really Blair’s successor in all his policies. Remove the bluster, examine the basics and you are left with practically no difference between Conservative and Labour philosophy.
    It takes UKIP to defend our sovereignty and restore our independence from Socialist/Marxist totalitarian dominance. It takes UKIP common sense to abandon the destructive and nonsensical Climate Change Act. Whatever other policy you examine, from fisheries to education to transport, it is UKIP who expresses what would have been Conservative policy if we had not lost our way.
    Conservative survival depends upon change of leadership and a return to true conservative policies, which are presently only expressed by UKIP.

  • Rodney G James

    He lost them months ago, because he has turned the party into a bunch bien-pesant metro PC liberal trendies, who have nothing in common with the rural middle classes. No-one any longer believes a word he says.

  • glurk

    It’s interesting then that the countryside seems to be populated these days by commuters living in expensive bubble estates or cottages (more expensive) who know nothing of the countryside and care even less as long as they have easy access to commuter travel facilities and the supermarket. The huntin’ shootin’ fishin’ brotherhood seem to spend most of their time in the City and people who have lived in the country for a generation have family who cannot buy or rent somewhere to live because of the ridiculous price of housing. There wont be any countryside soon because the residents will be too old and daft to protect it with any pretence at vigour and the commuters only care about what their neighbours will do that affects the price of their houses. There hasn’t been any countryside for 30 years to my certain knowledge so who cares….do what you damn well want…who and what is there to protect?

    • Old Nick

      You mean the Cotswolds ? There is quite a lot of other country you know.

      • glurk

        Perhaps you’d like to visit many many villages in rural Yorkshire and work out how a paramedic can live anywhere near where he was born. Do you think Im a moron? Ive lived in the country for the greater part of my life. I live near the pretend countryside in the Cotswolds in a small town because the houses I have tried to buy in the north so I can get back home are 80% owned by second home owners who go a couple of times, never buy whatever they need locally then abandon the place to the tender mercies of the many countryside holiday let firms. Go to Settle and Hawes, the plain of York in fact any area that has a whiff of green about it and and look in the estate agents windows.
        And then try and earn enough to pay for it.

        • Old Nick

          Of course I do not think you are a moron. I feel seriously sorry to hear you have been driven out by weekenders. Here they are more a phenomenon of the coasts (try Salcombe – grim), and none the less troublesome for that. Something seriously needs to be done about second homes ( stinging them for seriously higher council tax and enforcing agricultural ties would be a start). But there is no shortage of real country people who follow the hounds and they would like their sport back. Both ought to be possible, along with proper wifi which the Countryside Alliance is campaigning for.

          • glurk

            20 years ago in Yorkshire there was a move where certain properties had protected tenancies, but as far as I know that initiative is now over. But no, the property sickness throughout the countryside is not helped by using the housing stock as holiday homes. In Sedbusk near Hawes, we found a house we wanted and could sort of afford. The next door neighbour discreetly enquired if we would be living there and told us that out of 40 or so houses there, only 9 were inhabited full time. The place was a ghost village and its by no means the only one. I’m all for all people who make their homes in the countryside to come together and maintain it but I fear that most villages, certainly all villages here, are nothing more than dormitory villages and basically pretty housing estates.

          • glurk

            You understand my confusion about what there is to save, and from whom.

  • mikewaller

    Melissa renders us all a great service by demonstrating so very clearly the sheer purblindness of the sections of the society with whom she has worked so assiduously to align herself. Let it be understood that whatever he might or might not like to do, Cameroon can do nothing about hunting. There are two principle reasons for this. First, the majority of people who take a view on this issue consider it an act of atavistic barbarism, deeply offensive to the British sense of fair-play. They may be right in this, they may be wrong; but that is what they think. Second, as Cameron, for all his “Countryside” support, did not win a majority in the House of Commons and had to enter a coalition with the Liberal Democrats who for the most part are vehemently against hunting, he does not have a snowball’s chance in hell of building majority support for a pro-hunting measure.

    What makes me weep about this is that I should have thought that after a century of state education, the dumbest dumbo could make this very simple analyst. I can therefore only assume that the delectable Melissa has either gone off her builder and is angling for a huntin’ man or she has set her heart on winning this year’s “Airhead of the Year” award.

  • mutton

    30% of the British government were not born in England.
    Of the others a substantial number are not of English parentage. The remainder are so compromised and greedy (they are chosen for their weaknesses not strengths) that they are ineffective. By comparison take a look at the number of non nationals in the parliaments of Scot/Wal/NI.
    If ever England needed a voice and defence it is now before the carcass is stripped bar

    Cameron has more than just the fox hunting fraternity to be worried about. He needs to un-diverse Westminster a tad and let’s have a few of the patriotic voices that were silenced a few decades ago.

  • MarkyMarkSurrey

    Load of pap, Cameron & the CA are outdated. No one in the UK wants hunting bought back. We can see the corruption and the vile links Cameron and Paterson have with the CA and the favours they’re doing them. We want people who put the UK and its peoples first not some upper class inbred toff with a fetish for ripping animals apart.

  • Steven Whalley

    It is not only the hunting fraternity which has found Cameron umpalatable. There is much resentment over his support for the windturbines which have been foisted on rural areas.
    Does Cameron really know who are his supporters and why?

  • Jen Wills

    Actually the rural Tories are abandoning the Tories for UKIP but not because of the hunting ban, just as many rural dweller support the ban as town dwellers. They are abandoning the Tories because of Cameron’s NPPF and Growth and Infrastructure Policies which have taken away the democratic right of local people to halt greenfield and countryside development and have ruined our once beautiful countryside.

  • Jen Wills

    Nice try Spectator but this percentage of CA supporters joining UKIP is normal to the National Average of people leaving to joing UKIP as compared to 5 years ago, so please stop trying to fool us all. UKIP’s support has increased immeasurably year on year and that includes from Labour Supporters too. It’s got nothing to do with fox hunting, CA members are in general very patriotic and anti EU and immigration they are the most likely to join UKIP for these reasons.

  • Mark Mason

    It’s time for rural progressivism. The Labour Party cannot ignore the rural vote, and many farmers and farmworkers would be better off with a Labour Government. It was the Conservatives in the 80s who abolished the Milk Marketing Board. The result is that many small dairy farmers are unable to continue in business because the supermarkets are able to dictate the price of milk. A clear case of neo-liberal economics working for the benefit of the powerful. Also – the Common Agricultural Policy has been a bedrock for Europe’s farmers for 40 years. Sure, it needs reforming. But leaving Europe behind – as Ukip and many Tories want to do – isn’t the answer. Abolition of the Agricultural Wages Board is another backward step which is detrimental for many farmworkers. Time for rural people to see that voting for parties of the Right is against their economic interests.