2 November 2001
Blair should heed farm virus lesson

By Adrienne Francis

TONY BLAIR should apply the lessons learned from foot-and-mouth disease to the governments war on terrorism, writes a Daily Telegraph columnist.

In her Friday Column, Alice Thompson writes: Tony Blair has called both events devastating and grave, but has treated them differently.

The Prime Minister vacillated for weeks over foot-and-mouth, refusing to take responsibility and insisting there was no crisis, she adds.

He put his junior Nick Brown in charge but gave him little more than a hessian sack to beat the virus.

In contrast, Ms Thompson writes, the Prime Minister insisted on taking responsibility for the war against terrorism, and got off to a great start.

She goes on to discuss the similarities between the two wars, claiming that in both cases Mr Blair has hidden behind the experts.

In the case of foot-and-mouth, cows were slaughtered after eating blackberries, she writes. Anything that limped was put on the death list.

But it was always the chief vet dispatched to Cumbria to calm angry farmers or the chief scientist told to produce his graphs.

Similarly, with regard to Afghanistan, Mr Blair is hiding behind his senior military officers and his spin doctors have floundered on the PR front.

Ms Thompson says Mr Blair should learn the lessons of foot-and-mouth. He should stop dithering because it costs lives of humans as well as animals.

The pan-Asiatic virus type O is as virulent as bin Laden, and unless we learn from our mistakes we are unlikely to have see the last of either.

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