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Labour conference: Creagh bids for countryside vote

27 September 11 17:06
Ed Miliband
By Brian Wheeler
Political reporter, BBC News, in Liverpool

Labour has launched a bid to rebrand itself as the party of the countryside.

The party - which gathers most of its votes in urban areas - wants to grab votes from Tory supporters disillusioned at the coalition's policies.

The new campaign focuses on government plans to abolish the Agricultural Wages Board.

This is the independent body which sets minimum wages for farm workers and fruit pickers in England and Wales.

Labour claims the pay packets of 152,000 workers could be slashed as a consequences of the board's abolition.

Labour peer and film producer Lord Puttnam has created an animated video to promote the party's Back the Apple campaign.

Shadow environment secretary Mary Creagh told Labour's annual conference: "The fight to keep England's forests for the people showed this land is our land.

"And we're not going to be kept off it. Labour is the party of the countryside.

"The first time I said that in Parliament, the Tories laughed. They're not laughing now."

But Conservative Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman described Ms Creagh's comments as "cynical".

She added: "Labour neglected the countryside. Who can forget the five rural post offices that closed every week under Labour, or the endless fuel duty rises which hit people in the countryside so much harder?

"Rural communities won't be fooled by Labour's re-writing of history."

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