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New political party launched ahead of general election

Rural Reaction aims to take on the Conservative Party in their rural heartlands, focusing on those who live and work in the countryside, writes Felix Petit

Rural Reaction was launched on 1 October this year and hopes to highlight issues that are important to rural communities

A new political party, Rural Reaction, was launched on 1 October 2023 by PR and political lobbying veteran Ian Gregory. The party aims to take on the Tories in their rural heartlands and highlights recent lobbying successes on foxhunting, dog e-collars and overseas trophy hunting as examples of where politicians have changed their minds away from dogma delivered by the conservation industry.

Mr Gregory suggests that a lot of soft opinion coming from urban areas does so because people haven’t looked at the science. He also says he is looking at a broader overall picture than just the upcoming general election, stating: “The key thing here is not about winning seats, it’s about shifting the debate so that the big parties now have to consider rural voters. To force the Conservative Party and the Labour Party to think about what the views of the countryside are, instead of just playing for urban animal rights activists. Rural Reaction can shift who has key jobs [in Government] and can even shift Government in a very tight election.”

Christopher Graffius, executive director of communications and public affairs at BASC, spoke to ST about Rural Reaction. “We work with all political parties to support shooting, conservation and the welfare of the countryside,” he explained. “As in previous general election campaigns we will be seeking the views of all candidates, including those from Rural Reaction, on shooting and conservation, and communicating them to our members and the wider community so that they can cast informed votes.”

ST contributor Graham Downing added: “In my experience, protest parties have rarely achieved what they set out to. My advice to those with rural issues in need of political attention would be to make an extra effort to engage with MPs from one of the major parties.”

This story first appeared in Shooting Times, Britain’s oldest and best-selling shooting magazine. Published every Wednesday, the 141-year-old title has long been at the coalface of the countryside, breaking the stories that matter to you. Subscribe here.