We need a strong Rural Voice!


I’ve just returned from the Rural Conference, organised by the Rural Services Network.

It was good couple of days, talking about broadband, housing,  council funding and elderly care. Our subjects in other words, and not areas where this Tory government is showing much competence. Here’s the programme.

There were three Lib Dem delegates at the conference.

That’s right, only three of us among a sea of Tories.

The day after the conference I spent time with Tim Farron, our MP, at our local agricultural show. It was a very busy day with questions, opinions and encouragement coming thick and fast. Our petition supporting local dairy farmers, printed on a cow shaped piece of card, was especially welcomed.

We used to be the party that stood up for rural issues. I think we suffered over the coalition period, and many can speculate as to why this may have been , but it’s now time that we asserted that we are the true voice of the countryside.

Let’s start by making sure that the Rural Services Network isn’t simply a Tory stronghold.

Check here to see if your Council is a member and work at getting yourself nominated as a rep.

There are many voters in the countryside who don’t feel that either Labour or the Conservatives truly represent how they feel and that space is there to be filled by Lib Dems.

I look forward to seeing many more of you at next year’s conference and will even volunteer to organise a night out for us at a suitable local hostelry!

* Cllr Peter Thornton is the Finance Portfolio Holder and Councillor for Whinfell Ward on South Lakeland Council

Read more by or more about .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Michael Chappell 14th Sep '15 - 2:47pm

    I’ve been thinking for a little while now that it would be worthwhile establishing a Rural Affairs SAO within the party. Rural issues are legion and maybe a specific policy and advocacy group would help us start redefining as a party for rural people.

  • Richard Underhill 14th Sep '15 - 3:47pm

    Buses could be smaller and more frequent. Double-deckers provide better views upstairs at the front.

  • Good to see Peter (a successor of mine as Councillor for Kirkby Stephen) speaking up on rural matters here.

    The fact is that rural life is fragile and complicated. Above all it requires intervention of the social liberal kind rather than being left to the vagaries of market economics. Yes, by all means support self help, mutuals and co-operatives, but local government ought to be the guarantor of sustainable rural communities.

    The Tories have decimated local government finance (sadly in the last five years winked at by us). The consequence is the cycle of decline of rural schools, transport , housing (often with the issue of second homes) and social care for the elderly and disabled stretched to and beyond the limit. Non intervention means the collapse of rural communities. We end up with ghettoes of the rich without any kind of balanced community.

    This ought to be natural territory for us – so many of our former seats demonstrate all these issues. Appointing a well briefed Rural Communities spokesman in the Commons (backed up by an innovative research group) ought to be a priority.

  • peter tyzack 15th Sep '15 - 11:48am

    Go for it, Michael Chappell, great idea.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • User AvatarDavid Allen 28th Jul - 7:18pm
    On leadership: I guess there are two extreme approaches, which are both a problem. The "Stalinist" approach is for a leader to ignore the party...
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 28th Jul - 6:57pm
    Many thanks, chaps, for further interesting comments, but I have to go out, so I can't deal with them properly till later. But one point,...
  • User AvatarJohn King 28th Jul - 6:46pm
    To Jayne Mansfild. I did try to access that report you mention but it's difficult to determine when the work was done, as opposed to...
  • User AvatarDavid Allen 28th Jul - 6:42pm
    Simon, Corbyn supporters are not getting "defensive" they are getting furious with your tedious inteminable distortions. You are playing the Corbynites on side!
  • User AvatarRichard Underhill 28th Jul - 5:58pm
    3 star chef
  • User AvatarSteve Trevethan 28th Jul - 5:30pm
    @ Katharine Pindar My pleasure! Here are some further bits and pieces: We would serve our fellow citizens and party well if we could spread...
Wed 2nd Aug 2017
Thu 3rd Aug 2017
Mon 21st Aug 2017