A new survey released by the Country Land & Business Association (CLA) and Survation has revealed an 18% fall in rural support for the Conservative Party.
The survey of over 1,000 people in England’s 100 most-rural constituencies also revealed a surge in support of 16% for the Labour Party.
The CLA said these changes leave the Conservative Party (41%) and Labour Party (36%) almost neck and neck for the next General Election.
The organisation for rural landowners said swathes of the Conservative Party’s ‘rural wall’ are defecting to the Labour Party after “years of economic neglect”.
The Conservative Party currently holds 96 of the 100 most rural seats in England, but applying the CLA trend to the 2019 results would see them lose 20 seats in 2024.
President of the CLA, Mark Tufnell, said no political party has shown that it understands or shares the “aspirations of rural communities”.
“The outdated planning regime holding rural businesses back, the lack of affordable housing driving families out, the outdated infrastructure limiting entrepreneurs’ potential, it is all having a devastating impact.
“Any party which is willing to develop a robust and ambitious plan for the rural economy will secure significant support.
“Any party that wants to treat the countryside as a ‘museum’ will be punished.”
According to the CLA said that, only 36% of those surveyed agreed that the conservatives “understand and respect rural communities and the rural way of life”, with Labour close behind at 31%.
The survey also revealed a mounting frustration with economic policy and the cost-of-living crisis affecting rural communities.
69% of respondents said the government is not doing enough to tackle the cost-of-living crisis in rural areas, with 33% saying that cost-of-living pressures are affecting the countryside more than urban areas.
The CLA said the report indicates a “widespread lack of trust in local government“, as 55% of those surveyed said they do not trust local government to facilitate economic growth.
Almost half (47%) said local authorities “do not understand the needs of people living in the countryside”.
On planning and housing reform, 44% of respondents said they would support more homes being built in their communities and that reforming the planning system would help stimulate growth in rural economies.