Rural policy has presented some of the most difficult and unexpected challenges to the New Labour government. From the Foot and Mouth crisis to the rise of the Countryside Alliance, from farm protests to concerns about rural crime, rural issues have frequently seized headlines and formed the basis of organized opposition to the government. Yet, the same government, elected with a record number of rural MPs, has also proactively sought to reform rural policy.
This book critically reviews and analyses the development and implementation of New Labour's rural policies since 1997. It explores the factors shaping the evolution and form of New Labour's rural agenda, and assesses the impact of specific policies. Contributions examine discursive restructuring of the rural policy agenda, the institutional reforms and effects of devolution, the key political debates and challenges around hunting, agricultural reform, Foot and Mouth, housing development and the 'right to roam', and review policy developments with respect to crime, social exclusion and employment in the countryside, rural community governance and national parks.
"New Labour's Countryside" will be of interest to students of contemporary British politics and of rural studies, and to anyone involved in the government and politics of the countryside.
Michael Woods is Reader in Human Geography at Aberystwyth University and Co-Director of the Wales Rural Observatory. He has undertaken extensive research on rural politics and governance.
Part one: Contexts and political strategies: New Labour's countryside ~ Michael Woods; Rethinking rural policy under New Labour ~ Neil Ward; Rural governance, devolution and policy delivery ~ Mark Goodwin; New Labour's countryside in international perspective ~ Mark Shucksmith; Part two: The key debates: The foot and mouth crisis ~ Michael Winter; Hunting: New Labour success or New Labour failure? ~ Michael Woods; Planning and development in the countryside ~ Nick Gallent; Countryside access and the 'right to roam' under New Labour: nothing to CRoW about? ~ Gavin Parker; Agricultural policy ~ Alan Greer; Part three: Policies for the rural economy, society and environment: Rural community development and governance ~ Graham Gardner; New Labour, poverty and welfare in rural England ~ Paul Milbourne; Policing policy and policy policing: directions in rural policing under New Labour ~ Richard Yarwood; Twenty-first century employment and training in the countryside? The rural 'New Deal' experience ~ Suzie Watkin and Martin Jones; National Parks and the governance of the rural environment ~ Nicola Thompson; Part four: Conclusion: Beyond New Labour's countryside ~ Michael Woods.