How to meet farming’s needs

My inner geek has been having a field day. I warn you in advance of reading this post that any ideas you might’ve had about me having a shred of coolness are woefully off the mark.

Today most of the parties have published their manifestos ahead of the general election on May 6. Everyone at Farmers Weekly Towers has been looking at me in a slightly concerned way as I’ve sat happily going through them all to write about the rural policies.

Because I like you for taking the time to read this, I won’t bore you to death by talking through the policies here. But I will show you these word clouds I made using the green policy part of the manifestos and a nifty thing called Wordle (it’s a website that aggregates words and shows how often they are used). Clockwise from top left are clouds made from Labour, the Conservatives, UKIP and Plaid Cymru manifestos:


I thought it was pretty interesting that ‘energy’ features most for the top two parties, while ‘agriculture’ doesn’t even factor. Draw from that what you will. ‘Environment’, ‘protect’ and ‘security’ are all prominent in the Tory manifesto, but there’s no mention of ‘Britain’ or ‘community’, which Labour really played on.

UKIP went for  ‘support’ in a big way, but not in the context you might think – apparently if they get in they’re going to make subsidies unecessary by convincing people to buy more British food, thus raising food prices and making farming profitable. I notice ‘wind’ and ‘warming’ feature there too – is it too easy to say something about them being full of hot air?.

What interested me most though was Plaid Cymru’s word cloud. Not only do ‘Wales’, ‘Welsh’ and ‘Cymru’ get some of the biggest mentions, but the word ‘need’ is pretty prominent. I got the same ‘needy’ sense from reading the manifesto too – it was pretty good at being whiney but didn’t really offer any solutions.

Anyway, the Lib Dems publish their manifesto in the morning so we’ll see how airy fairy (or not) they can be. My not-so-inner geek can’t wait.

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