30 September 1998
Blair warns farmers over protests
By FWi staff
TONY BLAIR has warned hard-pressed farmers that their claim for financial
aid should be made through peaceful persuasion rather than public
Speaking yesterday (Tuesday) 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 8000 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
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.