Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Curse returns

Be warned that this is a partisan post. Only one issue on the mind of a countryman today - another confirmed case of Foot and Mouth Disease in Surrey. I remember watching Debby Reynolds, the Government's chief veterinary officer telling us last week that that the August outbreak of the disease was over, and thinking to myself that this was ridiculously complacent. I admit that I didn't disagree with the Government's decision to lift the movement of animals ban - but did disagree with the misplaced confidence and the casual message it sent out. I've lived through two devastating outbreaks - the '67 starting in Montgomeryshire, and the '01 which wiped out all the livestock around where I live. Gordon Brown was far too keen to want to look as if his personal intervention had soon sorted things. The truth is that the Government itself carries much of the responsibility for this outbreak because of its inadequate controls at Pirbright - and any eradication of the disease depends to a large extent on luck as well as strict controls. To be fair to the Prime Minister, he has done a very good job when compared with the utterly disgraceful performance of Tony Blair in 2001 - something for which the almost completely forgotten Mr Blair has not been sufficiently castigated.

Was interviewed on Good Morning Wales on this issue this morning and Bethan asked me if it was appropriate for David Cameron to 'play politics' with this issue. There is no-one being 'playful' about this. The Government has 'cocked-up' big time - its own agency leaked the disease for goodness sake. The Government has been too hasty in telling us that the outbreak was over - so that the Prime Minister could look capable. Its the main job of the Leader of the Opposition to point this out. After the 2001 outbreak, we saw the biggest cover-up in British animal health history when Blair refused to set up a public inquiry (disgracefully supported by my good friends in the farming unions at the time). Brown may be trying to create a one-party state. Its Cameron's job to stop him, and he's really starting to get the hang of it. Brown's got one chance of winning a General Election - and its next month. After that, he's toast - and wearing my partisan hat, "A damn good thing too".


Ponty Evans said...

I heard your interview this am and thought what a loss you are to the Assembly (I'm a Plaid Councillor by the way). You were correct in all you had to say and far more honest in your approach than say Brynle who went for headline grabbing politics. Heart felt but obvious. I agree with your sentiment and hope that Bruunnn realises sooner rather than later that his Baptistic intervention isn't the answer to all ills.

Glyn Davies said...

I just hope that we can return to some controlled stock movements as soon as possible. But we will not be clear for sure for several weeks.

The Half-Blood Welshman said...

I think you're a bit unfair - as was David Cameron in his "pressure" comments. The overwhelming evidence is that Gordon Brown doesn't give a stuff about farming in general, even with infectious diseases. Reynolds acted in accordance with EU regulations, and it is these that may need to be looked at. I would also suggest that at least one of the farmers who has lost stock may have some pretty searching questions to answer about how long the disease was in their animals.

However, I agree it's a terrible day for the countryside. The implications of this are horrendous, and I can't see normality being restored any time soon either.