Rural society 'run to point of extinction'

MAY 13, 2008: Rural society has been run to the point of extinction by a decade of “top-down” government, according to David Cameron.

In a speech yesterday he wooed country rural voters, promising to fight for farmers, rural post offices,local schools, police stations, shops and libraries.

PrimeMinister Gordon Brown, he said, was more concerned with targets andbureaucracy than listening to local people and common sense.

Headdressed an audience as part of the Campaign for the Protection ofRural England (CPRE) debate on how agriculture will look in 2026.

“Forthe last decade or so, in the name of modernisation, rationalisationand efficiency we have been living under a regime of government bymanagement consultant and policy by powerpoint.”

He said that aregime controlled by 'big' government had 'undermined the institutionsthat make up society – family, neighbourhood and community'.

“Takefood and farming. Many British consumers want to back British farmersby buying their produce, but often find it difficult because ofinadequate labelling.

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"Food can be imported to Britain,processed here, and subsequently labelled in a way that suggests it isgenuinely British. It is the proper job of government to ensure thatlabelling is accurate and clear.

“But government is not onlyfailing to impose sensible new regulations that would protect thecountryside. They are even getting rid of existing ones.”

Mr Cameron also attacked the Government for failing to provide adequate regulation to protect farmers from big supermarkets.

“It’snot exactly a relationship of equals. The supermarkets have been in thehabit of using their market power to squeeze the margins of those theybuy from.

"Delivering low prices through efficiencies is goodfor customers and a good thing in general - particularly at a time whenthe cost of living is going up. But doing so through abuse of marketpower or, for example through hitting suppliers with in-yearretrospective discounts is not,” he said.