Saturday, September 22, 2007

History Repeating Itself? Foot & Mouth to Scupper Election?

The news that the foot and mouth protection zone has been expanded into East Berkshire may well hit Gordon Brown's plans for an October election. The discovery of a new case of foot and mouth last night near Egham will raise worries that more cases are still undiscovered in the area. Foot and Mouth scuppered Tony Blair's plans for an election in May 2001. Is history about to repeat itself? And the irony is, this outbreak was caused by a Government run laboratory which Gordon Brown had failed to fund properly.


Gareth Ellis said...

you have your time and dates wrong, and the conclusion.

The foot and mouth tragedy that gripped the nation was in 2001, and Blair went to the polls in June of that year, despite the disease been fully on the rampage.
To qoute Nick Green, Heart of Cumbria, at an enquiry by Cumbria County Council:

"I believe that Mr Blair, on hearing the government Chief Scientist's statement, that the epidemic was out of control, and predicting that infected farms would be around 4,000 by June, caused him to panic. Mr Blair's mind was firmly on the general election. Remember Mr Blair, embarrassingly caught on national television cameras discussing his election plans, in Stockholm; his mind was clearly not on the foot and mouth crisis in the United Kingdom. On his return, he took personal control, and ordered the cull of millions of healthy animals. Mr Blair was at this stage told that the government had no legal powers to conduct the cull. Therefore, it was at this point that the term voluntary was hatched.

"Can you imagine Mr Blair and his government trying to introduce emergency powers at the same time as conducting the election? The decision to conduct the 3km cull was a purely political one. The policy had no scientific merit at all.

"This was not the biggest foot and mouth disease outbreak ever, by far, but due to government policy it resulted in the greatest number of animals being killed, often under quite unacceptable circumstances. It was a holocaust driven by economics and politics. The sole objective of Prime Minister Blair was not to upset his plans for the general election, and indeed to conduct the election without controversy. To do this resulted in the most massive massacre of British livestock ever. And I have no doubt there will be many questions to be asked in the future."

Laurence Boyce said...

And the irony is, this outbreak was caused by a Government run laboratory which Gordon Brown had failed to fund properly.

Another irony might be Conservatives complaining of inadequate financing of public services.

Tapestry said...

The foot and mouth outbreak should have been halted by now. But DEFRA refuse to vaccinate, as do all other countries in the world. Why?

See to read the shock and disbelief that the lessons have not been learned from 2001. (Blair did delay the election by a couple of months - but only in order to news manage the outbreak better - it was still raging).

There is so much money in a foot and mouth outbreak that someone could well be spreading it deliberately. There were several reports that this was happening in 2001.

Why are diseased carcasses being transported across Britain to be incinerated? In 1967 the enquiry after wards said carcasses must be buried where they die on the day they died, and not burned.

Recently a herd of cows was allowed to stampede in terror and rush around the countryside spreading the virus. Is DEFRA really so incompetent?

They are an organisation recently reported in Private Eye for taking illegal commissions from large companies for illegally keeping competition out of the farm supply industry. The uncontrollable power of bureaucracy is the cause of foot and mouth, plain and simple.

A group of schoolkids could halt the disease in days.

Man in a Shed said...

Gaz - of course New Labour made sure there was no public enquiry.

They are experts at burying, burning and shredding the evidence.

Agree with you Iain - Gordon's check with COBRA today is more about getting a green light for the election.

Gordon has done whatever it takes to become prime minister - and he's going to do whatever it takes to stay there. Massive public under-writing of Northern Rock and other banks or killing of Cows.

There an interesting article in our local press which had DEFRA cull men chasing cows across a stream and onto a gold course ( F&M spread by water ! ). The members where made to stay in the 19th hole whilst lethal biosecurity was finally applied. [ ref Woking Informer 21 Spet 07 page 8 ]

Anonymous said...

The Labour Party has had no supporters in the farming community for many years anyway and have very little understanding or concern for rural communities in general(where incidentally they have an appalling record over the last decade in a variety of areas). In any event most of these constituencies are either Conservative or LibDem and unlikely to "go" Labour so the latest outbreak is unlikely to effect any election decision. The real concern would be if the media started to show thousands of animal carcasses being burnt(as in 2001). This will be unlikely as the government especially Gordon has learnt the presentational lesson from that time. In fact another outbreak has the opposite effect - as it gives Gordon yet another opportunity to be seen to be "in control" of a crisis.

Tapestry said...

If DEFRA succeed in getting another widescale outbreak going, people might suspect that there is more to these outbreaks than just a bit of bad luck for Gordon to look Prime Ministerial in front of. There was UKL 8 Billion spent on the last outbreak. Fortunes were made. The temptation of filthy lucre is too great for these bureaucrats to resist. They will never make as much money in their lives again as they can from a major foot and mouth outbreak - which vaccination could stop in its tracks.

They will just have to keep the outbreak going. Gordon Brown's election chances will get burned along with another ten million farm animals.

Anonymous said...

May I humbly suggest that we cull Gordon Brown and all those associated with him?

Anonymous said...

The hulk of the UK car industry used to have a habit of collapsing while Labour was in power. British Leyland in 1973, Rover Group in 2000 and MG-Rover in 2001.

Still, with more manufacturing jobs gone under NuLab than under Maggie (I'm sure this is right), that's another thing Broon doesn't have to worry about.

And nobody will care when it becomes clear that the Chinese Gov-sanctioned takeover of car-maker Nanjing (which has a long lease of the Longbridge factory and promise to re-start production there) by bigger car-maker SAIC, means curtains for any new jobs at Longbridge, save a 100 or so assembly MG TF kit cars.

Ralph said...

I would give Brown to claim he was going to call an election, honest he was, no really he was, but this got in the way.

Alex said...

Strange that several recent outbreaks of F&M have been under reported by the BBC ever since it was discovered that the virus came from the Defra regulated lab at Pirbright.

Well actulayy it's not that surprising.

Anonymous said...

Surely the only way to stop the spread of FMD is to cull all livestock - cattle, sheep, pigs - within 50 (yes FIFTY) miles of the exclusion zone and compensate the farmers generously.Drastic? Yes - of course. But then there would be a real chance that the disease would not rear up again in an adjoining area. Culling farm by farm may minimise the loss of livestock but it does nothing at all to halt the spread of this disease and if we go on like this DeFRA will be chasing itstail round farmyards for months. DeFRA should - but probably won't - act decisively.

And yes, Verity, a concomitant cull of politicians and officials who have so far failed in their jobs and thus failed the farming community as well as the rest of us would do no harm at all.

The Half-Blood Welshman said...

Tapestry asks why we do not vaccinate. Simple really - vaccination is no use against FMD in the long term. It tends to mask outbreaks rather than contain them, the virus mutates so often and consists of such a variety of strains that the vaccine used needs to be changed every 6 months (think flu, only far worse) and it costs the country its disease free status, meaning no exports can be carried on. It's useful to set up firewalls around infected premises in a major outbreak, but at the present time we don't have one (although I have an ominous feeling that that could change). As all vaccinated animals have, by EU law, to be slaughtered, you would cause the death of umpteen thousand healthy animals to satisfy your own ignorance and prejudice - which I thought was what you were trying to avoid.

And do not quote Argentina at me over this - Argentina is an acknowledged special case that has special dispensation from the WHO to consider 2/3 of the country disease free, because it borders Brazil where FMD is endemic. Argentina has to put stringent measures in placel, including a 100 mile "infected" zone by the Brazilian border and a 100 mile vaccination zone beyond that. Apart from those two zones, the country is regarded as "disease free" and can export its meat.

A bunch of schoolgirls with basic training in biology could have told you this. But there are none so deaf...

Anonymous said...

A spectacular case of rowing back from having jumped the gun with a rather foolish 'prediction' there, Iain...

Unsworth said...

Bluetongue is now here.

Altogether more worrying than Foot and Mouth, this is serious trouble. Now what is Gordon going to do about that?