road protests 1998   |   road protests (current)   |   movement links

From: "SchNEWS"
Date: Wed, 4 Mar 1998 15:21:29 +0000
Subject: SchNEWS 156, 27 February 1998

Countryside Alliance - who are they?

Unholy Alliance

"We are marshalling the Peasantry" The Duke of Northumberland

The 1st Countryside Rally, held last July, kicked into action the usually complacent county fat cats. Michael Foster's Wild Mammals Bill (Hunting with Dogs) is symbolic of more than the protection of our wildlife.

Important as that is, it is the first battle in the war on the elusive 1% who own between 50 -75% of the land we live on. (Because of evasive tax laws nobody knows the true figure). This time around however, in an attempt to gain the sympathy of us `townies' the rich Landowners are hiding behind the very real grievances held by the rural population: 93% of villages have no railway, 71% no buses, 80% no doctor and 1 in 3 agricultural workers live in tied accommodation (homes that go with the job). Are we to believe,then, that the hunting fraternity has suddenly decided to stand up for the rights of the `peasants'?

"With just over a week to go, we are aware of 1,891 coaches, and 23 chartered trains with block booking and extra carriages on a further 40 booked by local hunts." - Janet George, Countryside Alliance.

The baying pack of an endangered species descends on London this coming Sunday (1st March). This, the second event to be organised by the Countryside Alliance claims to be able to attract some 150,000 pissed-off country folk "It is the purpose of the Countryside Business Group (CBG) to provide the necessary financial resources to restore the balance" Hugh Van Cutsem, Chairman.

Who are the Countryside Alliance? Well, The British Fields Sports Society are easy enough, their members are the scum who like to kill things, The Countryside Movement was set up to counter animal rights campaigns, The Countryside Business Group is the most interesting. In an alliance of everything British, we find the founder is the American millionaire Eric Bettelheim, the chairman is Dutch and their press officer Janet George is Australian! SchNEWS has found it almost impossible to find out who is in the CBG, but we do know that the companies who are members are using a green lion logo in their advertising (check out `Country Life').

Yet hiding behind all of these, (you won't find their name on any publicity), is that modest little group The Country Landowners Association. Lord David Steel, ex Liberal, is their spokesman for a cool £90,000 a year, and one known member is the Duke of Westminster, the countryside's biggest landowner and leaseholder of much of the high value property in London.

Hmm, just the sort of people that you would expect to be to concerned about farm labourers wages or the lack of a local bus service. It would seem that the main agenda remains the same, i.e. preserving the rights of a privileged few to do as they please in their own homes on their own land (which their ancestors stole from the commoners in the 18th century Enclosure Acts). The fact that the inclusion of certain issues in the C.L.A.'s agenda smack of blatant hypocrisy seems to have passed them by.

For example, according to its own publicity, the C.L.A. represents `people dismayed about plans to allow speculative building on greenbelt land'. The owner of the Sutton Estate in Newbury upon discovering that the bypass was to cross his land, was so"dismayed", he requested permission to build 1,600 houses, an hotel and an 18-hole golf course next to the road. A letter from the House Builder's Federation, to the C.L.A. professes full support for hunting: `The intrusion of urban activists into country sports, surely equally offends most right thinking people in the towns as well as the countryside'. He goes on to state that he wishes to counter `the deliberately misleading impression that thousands of square miles of Britain's rightly cherished heritage is under threat from house building'.

According to the C.L.A. , everyone attending the march will be there to air some grievance relating to the countryside. What they fail to mention, funnily enough, is the fact that many people are being ordered to attend by their Feudal employers, under threat of losing their jobs, and in some cases their homes, as many rural workers still live in accommodation tied to their work.

road protests 1998   |   road protests (current)   |   movement links