Labour in rural England and Wales


The Fabian Society is carrying out a research project into Labour’s discomfort in rural England and Wales.

For Labour to win a majority in a general election it must make significant gains in rural and semi-rural constituencies yet it is out of touch with rural concerns. Labour’s general election defeat in 2015 saw Labour win only 30 out of 199 rural seats. Labour’s loss in the Copeland by-election has seen that figure reduce to 29.

Labour performs poorly in rural areas, and even where rural constituency Labour parties are strong they tend to be dominated by those who live in the largest settlements. As Labour’s base becomes ever-more metropolitan, there is a widespread perception in the countryside that Labour lacks understanding of local concerns and how to solve them. The party is seen to dictate to rural communities, rather than being rooted in such communities and articulating a policy agenda reflecting their interests.

This research project will explore the reasons for the disconnect between rural populations and the Labour party, and discuss how the party’s culture, organisation, message and policy could change to earn the confidence of voters in rural areas.

The Fabian Society is partnering with the Countryside Alliance for this project.

Please see this article, published on Labour List on 27 March 2017, for more information on the project:

Can you help?

We are calling for written submissions from Labour activists and others living or working in rural areas around the country. If you think you might have something to contribute, we want to hear from you. Please fill out this survey or email a submission to [email protected]

Advisory panel

A number of senior Labour figures are advising the Fabian Society with this project:

  • Ruth Davis, E3G
  • David Drew MP
  • Maria Eagle MP
  • Lord Maurice Glasman
  • Helen Goodman MP
  • Huw Irranca-Davies AM
  • Lord Jim Knight
  • Hywel Lloyd, Labour COAST&COUNTRY
  • Lisa Nandy MP
  • Lord Jeff Rooker
  • Baroness Royall (chair)