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Aid package what the papers say

31 March 2000
Aid package — what the papers say

By FWi staff

TONY BLAIR is portrayed as a champion of farmers by the daily papers, who say he fought hard to prise the farm aid package from his reluctant Chancellor.

The Prime Minister is said to have used his personal authority to over-rule Gordon Brown and extract the maximum amount of cash

The aid package, announced after the Downing Street summit, includes 193 million from Mr Browns Treasury, with the rest coming from the EU.

Cash payments are backed by long-term strategy to move farmers away from subsidy payments into new forms of farm business.

The Times reports that the Prime Minister “caved in to demands of crisis-stricken farmers in face of fierce Treasury resistance”.

It says that during tough negotiations Gordon Brown and Treasury Chief Secretary Andrew Smith challenged every element of the package.

Sources said negotiations were “blood, sweat and tears” and that Mr Blair and farm minister Nick Brown fought every inch for the aid.

The Times says the Prime Minister was determined to show that his government – often accused of being “townie” – cared about farmers.

The Daily Mail takes a similar angle, saying the Prime Minister only secured the deal by vetoing his “very tight-fisted” Chancellor after a “furious row”.

The Financial Times reports that Mr Blair bowed to farmers demands after tough discussions with the Treasury, which lasted until the morning of the summit.

An emergency lifeline to angry farmers is how The Daily Telegraph describes the package, saying Mr Blair has finally realised the need for urgent action.

Meanwhile, The Independent views the deal as “a batch of measures to take farming in a new and profitable direction”.

But Richard Haddock, spokesman for militant Farmers For Action protestors, tells the paper that supermarket blockades by producers will continue.

The Guardian reports that Tony Blair warned farmers that the package must be matched by a renewed willingness to restructure their ailing industry.

The newspaper says it remains to be seen whether this will persuade farmers to stop blockading supermarket depots and dumping milk.

Birgit Cunningham, who hit the headlines by squashing a chocolate éclair into Nick Browns face, staged her own Downing Street protest.

The Telegraph publishes a photograph of her drenched in fake blood and being led away by police after handcuffing herself to railings.

Ms Cunningham admitted to The Guardian that this was a publicity stunt, but “not half as much as the one going on right now in Downing Street”.

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Aid package what the papers say

21 September 1999
Aid package — what the papers say

By Donald MacPhail

NEWS of the governments £500 million farming aid package has been overshadowed by the continuation of the beef-on-the-bone ban in a number of todays papers.

Agriculture minister Nick Brown revealed yesterday that he favoured lifting the two-year ban on cuts such as T-bone steaks and ribs.

But medical officers in Northern Ireland and newly-devolved Scotland and Wales refused to agree with recommendations from their English counterpart.

It was therefore decided to retain the beef-on-the-bone ban until it could be lifted simultaneously across the UK .

The Times makes the story its front-page lead, describing it as “the most graphic example of the capacity of devolution to backfire on the Government”.

The “disarray in Government” overshadowed the aid package, adds the paper.

A bullish Daily Mail claims: “The immediate return of beef to English dinner tables is being denied only because of Tony Blairs devolution policy.”

And The Guardian talks of the lifting of the ban being “thwarted” by the devolved bodies.

The Financial Times takes a more positive view, highlighting the ministers pledge to lift the beef-on-the-bone ban.

In its lead story, The Daily Telegraph chooses to focus primarily on the aid package, saying farmers welcome the aid, which includes £150m of new money.

This contrasts with coverage in The Times which says the package “fails to pacify farmers”.

The Independent speculates that “the Governments renewed nervousness about the rural community” will have helped Mr Brown secure the cash for the aid package.

In its editorial The Guardian says the government cannot decide if rural culture is “inherently more worthy” than other sectors where “the chill winds of market forces are allowed to blow unchecked”.

It claims the aid package is an “ad-hoc” arrangement to “buy time” while “painful restructuring of the rural economy proceeds apace”.

The most sympathetic coverage of the aid package comes from The Express. Its front-page headline describes the cash as “Too little, too late”.

Coverage includes a two-page spread outlining the plight of many in farming, and The Express editorial says further support is required.

It calls for Mr Brown to “dig a lot deeper into his pocket” and “take a long hard look at the bureaucracy and regulations surrounding the industry”.

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