Make ‘townies’ take an exam in rural affairs before they are allowed to vote, says David Gower
Mr Gower attacked politicians who are ‘allergic to grass’, saying they make unpopular decisions about countryside matters
Defended the controversial pursuits of fox hunting and pheasant shooting, saying they provided an effective form of pest control and conservation
By Simon Cable
18 July 2013
He is almost as well known for his laid-back persona as he is for his prowess on the cricket field.
But David Gower has directed a furious broadside at Britain’s ‘townies’, whom he claims are ignorant of countryside issues and should be tested on rural affairs before being allowed to vote.
The former England captain said there should be ‘compulsory education for townies about what happens in the country’.
He said: ‘It’d be really good for town and country folk, when they’re at school, to learn more about each other. There’d be a low-level exam. If you fail twice, you’re not allowed to vote. Unless you understand the issues, you’re not qualified.’
Mr Gower, who lives in a sprawling mansion in Hampshire, also attacked politicians who are ‘allergic to grass’, saying they make unpopular decisions about countryside matters.
The 56-year-old said: ‘The rural economy has kept many employed, happy and healthy for a long time.
‘I live in the country and find it irritating when issues that affect it are decided by city dwellers, many of whom love tarmac, are allergic to grass and find it hard to understand where Morris dancing comes from.’
The cricketer lives in Braishfield, Romsey, with his Icelandic wife Thorunn and two daughters, Alexandra, 19 and Sammi, 17. He made the comments to Reader’s Digest magazine.
He also defended the controversial countryside pursuits of fox hunting and pheasant shooting, saying they provided an effective form of pest control and conservation.
Mr Gower, irreverently nicknamed Lord Gower because of his aristocratic ancestry and public school education, said: ‘I’d permit fox hunting and encourage tolerance of other country pursuits. I’ve no desire to hunt foxes, but I don’t want to stop others. I shoot, and I have interesting discussions with people about firing at defenceless pheasants.
‘I do worry about a time when townies decide to arm pheasants and they start shooting back.
‘But land that’s devoted to shooting is well tended, with cover crops and woods. The landowners I know are responsible people who want to preserve their estates for future generations. And the shooting community is very clear that everything that’s shot should be eaten.
‘Many of these issues apply to fox hunting – conservation and also pest control. I’d ask city-dwellers what they think when confronted by urban foxes, which have proliferated.’
Mr Gower played professional cricket for 18 years between 1975 and 1993.
After retiring from the sport he went on to appear on BBC panel show They Think It’s All Over and now works as a pundit for Sky Sports.
Last year, TV presenter Alan Titchmarsh was branded a ‘complete muppet’ by environment secretary Owen Paterson for criticising the Government’s countryside policies.
He had warned that the Conservative party had lost its roots in rural areas.