Opinion Former Article

Countryside Alliance: Blair's rural legacy - a decade of neglect and 'the most illiberal act of the last century'

Tony Blair has presided over a decade of neglect of the countryside and his rural legacy will be the Hunting Act: the most ridiculous and derided law of modern times.

Countryside Alliance Chief Executive Simon Hart commented: "The Countryside Alliance was created ten years ago in response to fears that the new Labour Government was hostile to, or ignorant of, many rural concerns. It has proved all too necessary.

"From the disastrous handling of the Foot and Mouth outbreak to the disgraceful fiasco of the Rural Payments Agency Blair's decade has been marked from first to last by chaos in the countryside.

"By appointing Margaret Beckett and Alun Michael to Defra he sent a message to the countryside that he either did not care, or did not understand, the problems of rural communities.

"In the end the only rural policy that his Government will be remembered for is the pointless and derided Hunting Act, described by Tony Blair's mentor Roy Jenkins as 'the most illiberal act of the last century'.

"It is shameful that he allowed 700 hours of Parliamentary time to be wasted on a pointless law, which has failed at every level, when the countryside deserved so much more.

"Tony Blair will be remembered for creating tension, division and unhappiness in the countryside, and the illiberal, unjust and vindictive Hunting Act will be his rural legacy".

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