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Disruptive Governance in the UK Food System and the Case of Wales.

Marsden, Terry ORCID:, Lang, Tim and Millstone, Erik 2022. Disruptive Governance in the UK Food System and the Case of Wales. Ioris, A.A.R ORCID: and Fernandes, B.M., eds. Agriculture, Environment and Development: International Perspectives on Water, Land and Politics., Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 37-62.

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There have been previous episodes and phases when radical governance disruptions shook the food systems of the British Isles, such as wars (from the Napoleonic to World War II), social upheavals (the Irish Famine, the 1930s) and the process of industrialisation (1780–1850) which de-ruralised parts of the UK. What makes the present period so important, however, is that it began in peacetime yet also when the food system is recognised to be in the front-line of new, massive external challenges. These include ecosystems tensions such as over climate change, water stress, biodiversity loss, also public health problems from unhealthy diets and antimicrobial resistance, all overlaid by rising economic and political tensions over trade, not least now exacerbated by the war in Ukraine and growing food nationalism. This combination of disruptions from outside, alongside and inside the UK is of a scale of impact not witnessed in the UK food system since the 1940s. This chapter proposes that the notion of disruptive governance is now a useful concept with which to understand the present situation and to examine the immediate future. We argue that it is not just something being done to the agri-food system but also a political style being actively championed and inserted within it. The chapter considers the dynamics of food disruptive governance as a multi-level phenomenon occurring at global, continental, national and intra-national levels. It focuses on Wales-one devolved region within the UK polity, to highlight how it has barely been discussed in the UK debates about Brexit. The present authors raised the example of Wales in an early paper in 2017 to illustrate the disruptions to existing Wales-UK food dynamics, to consider what could be learned from Wales about the wider political discussion about how an English-dominated political vote could change the status of the UK’s three devolved administrations—Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (Lang et al. 2017). While Scotland and Northern Ireland voted strongly to remain in the EU in the 2016 Referendum, Wales was more ambivalent, narrowly favouring leave, although voting preferences have subsequently shown signs of fluidity. In the May 2019 European Parliament elections, for example, the Brexit Party topped the poll with 32.5% of the vote, but votes for parties favouring a second referendum outweighed those favouring an immediate exit.

Item Type: Book Section
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Geography and Planning (GEOPL)
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
ISBN: 9783031102639
Last Modified: 20 Feb 2023 14:00

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