Blair warns farmers over protests

29 September 1998

Blair warns farmers over protests

by FWi staff

TONY BLAIR warned hard-pressed farmers that their claim for financial aid should be made through peaceful persuasion rather than public protest.

Speaking this afternoon at the Labour Party Conference in Blackpool, the Prime Minister said he was aware of the difficulties many farmers faced.

“I understand the plight of farmers,” Mr Blair said. “The way to put your case is by peaceful persuasion and no other.”

Mr Blair reminded farmers that they already received more than 2.5 billion in subsidies. But he appeared to acknowledge that more money could be on the way.

“We are giving public support already worth 50 for every man, woman and child in this country,” Mr Blair said. “We will do what we can.”

Mr Blairs warning that negotiation was the only way forward came two days after a mass protest almost ended in violence.

About 8,000 farmers and their supporters gathered at the start of the Labour Conference on Sunday afternoon.

Many claimed their livelihoods were being ruined by the strong Pound which is sucking in imports of cheap meat.

The farmers marched peacefully on the Conference centre at Blackpools Winter Gardens.

But a group of 200 Welsh farmers broke away and attempted to march to the hotel where the Prime Minister was staying.

Police blocked Blackpool promenade until the farmers dispersed. One man was arrested after a policeman was knocked from a motorcycle.

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