The National Farmers Union (NFU) has told members that their votes on May 7 could play a crucial part in deciding the next government, given that there are 37 rural marginal seats in England alone where the “incumbent party” is defending a 10% majority.
“With the tightest General Election in modern political history, the rural vote is arguably a big battle ground,” said the NFU’s head of government and parliamentary affairs, Matt Ware.
While acknowledging that it’s “not wise to make predictions”, he said that the election was “likely to be one of the most tactical and individual elections ever seen”, complete with seat-by-seat dynamics rather than national trends.
“As such, this represents a real opportunity for effective local lobbying on your local candidates,” he said in a blog on the NFU website, adding that all candidates will be in “listening mode” and receptive to policy suggestions in line with the NFU manifesto.
Mr Ware also drew attention to a couple of key “farming seats” which look particularly vulnerable, pointing out that Defra Minister, George Eustice, has the second most marginal rural English seat with a 66 majority, while fellow Defra Minister, Dan Rogerson, is defending a small 6.35% majority.
Listing his top three tips on how farmers might get involved in the election campaign, he urged producers to:
- contact their prospective parliamentary candidates and invite them onto the farm or to an NFU hustings event,
- sign up to the “Great British Food Gets My Vote” campaign, and
- speak to local candidates from all political parties, as a coalition is likely.