Why a charity’s ludicrous report that claimed the countryside is blighted by racism speaks volumes about who REALLY governs Britain, writes ROSS CLARK
I will say one thing to Wildlife And Countryside Link, the umbrella charity organization which produced a report last week claiming that the British countryside is embedded with ‘racist and colonial legacies’. It makes country life sound much more exciting than it really is.
To read it, you’d think the town green was lit up by chapters of the Ku Klux Klan waving flaming torches. The reality is more of over 60s practicing pilates in the village hall, or the parish council meeting to discuss potholes.
If, as the report claims, ‘green spaces are dominated by white people’ there is a good reason for that. After all, the UK population is 80 percent white, and Britain’s ethnic population is – for all sorts of historical reasons – concentrated in big cities. So yes, you don’t see as many black people treading the footbridges of the Chilterns as you do walking the streets of Islington. But that hardly makes rural people racist. You might as well go to a village outside Nairobi and complain there are too many black faces.
It’s hardly worth dwelling on this standard, wake-up call. This is word soup of the kind pumped out by left-wing academics, among whom it has become fashionable to blame all the world’s ills on ‘colonialism’. It goes on to blame climate change on ‘racist colonial legacies’ as well.
Wildlife And Countryside Link’s report claims ‘green spaces are dominated by white people’ (stock photo)
Others, such as the National Trust, have undergone their own, Leftist colonization in recent years
But most interesting is what the report tells us about where power lies in modern Britain. Basically, we have had a Conservative, or Conservative-dominated government for the last 14 years. So you might think that the public is being fed the middle-of-the-road policies they keep voting for. Yet, as the example of Wildlife And Countryside Link shows, beneath our increasingly irrelevant elected government lies an infrastructure of quangos, charities and other institutions pushing a Left agenda.
The chief executive of Wildlife And Countryside Link is Richard Benwell, who previously worked as an adviser to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), and also worked with the RSPB and Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust. In the 2019 general election he stood for the Lib Dems in the Oxfordshire constituency of Wantage. But he is also an environmental activist.
Last September he spoke at a protest against government policy on the environment outside the Defra offices – where he used to work as an adviser, remember – organized by Chris Packham and attended by Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion. His words would have come as music to their ears and said to serve the interests of nature ‘we must change the way we behave in every corner of society and every inch of the economy’.
He went on to demand that the finance industry, water and agri-food ‘start paying billions for nature now’. In other words it appears as if he wants massive extra taxes on industry along the lines of Labour’s windfall tax. As for the 79 organizations listed as members of Link, some, such as Greenpeace, have overtly Leftist agendas. Greenpeace has been promoting the ‘rural is racist’ idea for a while. “For black people, a walk in the countryside can be a powerful act of protest,” it says on its website.
Others, such as the National Trust, have undergone their own left-wing colonization in recent years, forcing volunteers to wear Pride badges and carry out a ‘colonization and slavery’ report which led to the removal of some treasures from historic houses, as well as visitors receiving lectures on the evils of colonialism. Others seem to have a more radical agenda than their name suggests.
Last week the Bat Conservation Trust, which has Packham as its president, unveiled ‘anti-oppression training’ for its staff. The report on rural racism was commissioned by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Race and Community, chaired by Labor MP Clive Lewis. Although it bills itself as ‘all-party’, it is not exactly balanced – it has six Labor MPs and one Labor peer, two Conservative MPs and two from the SNP. Not surprisingly, it has a somewhat charged political agenda. The report is part of what the APPG calls an inquiry into ‘Racism and the environmental crisis’. There would be no point in linking those issues unless you’ve already decided: yes, it’s white people who are trashing the environment and other groups are suffering as a result.
The inquiry was launched last September at an event addressed by War On Want, a charity which appears to have evolved into more of a political campaign group. ‘War On Want has no political purpose,’ it says on its website, before declaring ‘poverty is political’ and launching into the standard complaints of the Left, that big business ‘monopolizes land and global resources’. Look at the list of members of its ‘Board of Management’ and you can see where it comes from: it is run by several union activists, a member of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, a former CND activist and the international editor of the Morning Star.
Charities directly supporting the report include the League Against Cruel Sports and The Countryside Charity, formerly the Council for Preservation of Rural England (stock photo)
The report also said: ‘Racist colonial legacies continue to frame nature in the UK as ‘white space’ and people of color as ‘out of place’ in these spaces and environmental sector’ (stock photo)
The group report said ‘our policy recommendations ensure that all people have the right to a healthy natural environment – all people should have access to nature’ (stock photo)
The September event was also addressed by the Runnymede Trust, another charity group which recently published its own report on ‘racism and the climate emergency’, saying: ‘We have partnered with Greenpeace UK to help the world to remind you it should be obvious: the climate crisis is rooted in systemic racism.’ Really? I thought it was supposed to be rooted in carbon emissions.
The Runnymede Trust also recently published a report claiming that immigration was not an issue of public concern, but only appeared to be because ‘politicians and the media’ used ‘partial and misleading polling data’ to make it appear people care about just migration of over 700,000 a year, and things like finding their local hotels being taken over to house asylum seekers.
This is just the background of one APPG and his attempt to dismiss Leftist bald-headedness as the product of a cross-party initiative. But the leadership of our public sector as a whole leans heavily to the Left. The Commissioner for Public Appointments keeps track of the political affiliations of people appointed by the government to senior positions in the public sector. During the Labor years, as you might imagine, there was a heavy bias against Labor people – in every single year from 2003/04 to 2009/10 they were the tiny minority of those affiliated in some way with the Conservatives , surpass. But what is remarkable is that even after a change of government, public appointments were still dominated by Labour. In the 12 years to 2022/2023, Labor outspent Conservative appointees in seven of them. Tories outnumbered Labor in three and there were equal numbers of appointments in the other two.
The left jealously guards its grip on the kwangocracy by becoming outraged when conservatives are appointed to prominent positions. Nobody seemed to bat an eyelid when, say, Tony Blair’s former policy aide, Matthew Taylor – who started his career in health policy but has no medical experience – was sent to run the NHS confederation, or when Lord Smith of Finsbury , who has no engineering experience, was appointed to oversee the country’s flood response as chairman of the Environment Agency. But when Toby Young, who set up a chain of free schools, was appointed to the board of the Office for Students in 2018, he was out days after activists claimed he had no experience and tweeted -stream searched to find something offensive. .
There was similar outrage when the Commission on Race and Ethnic Inequalities appointed by Boris Johnson, then Prime Minister, failed to adhere to left-wing dogma and concluded that Britain was not riddled with institutional racism. The University of Nottingham has disgracefully withdrawn an offer of an honorary degree for the head of the commission, Tony Sewell.
If Britain chooses to vote for a Labor government, that’s fine, we expect left-wing policies. But it is disturbing that voting for a Tory government for four elections makes little difference – the Left has continued to populate the quangos and agencies that actually run the country.