4 February 2000
‘Insensitive’ MP in farm suicide claim
By FWi staff
A LABOUR MP has been branded insensitive after claiming that there are large numbers of suicides among farmers simply because they have easy access to shotguns.
Speaking on a BBC Radio Wales programme, Paul Flynn MP said that, while farmers were in trouble due to low prices, there were no more suicides than there ever have been in the industry.
“And the main reason why theres a large number of suicides among farmers is because they have shotguns handy,” he insisted.
Welsh Assembly member for Brecon and Radnorshire Kirsty Williams, who was once reduced to tears describing the plight of farmers in her constituency, called for Mr Flynn to apologise.
This was echoed by director of NFU Cymru Wales Malcolm Thomas, who said Mr Flynns comments were stupid and showed how out-of-touch Labour was.
But the Newport West MP refused to back down.
He also dismissed as “propaganda” a farmers blockade of supermarket distribution centres in Bristol and Warrington in protest at imports
“Day after day, relentlessly, they block roads, they demonstrate, they are a very small part of our economy,” he said.
Mr Flynn is also reported to have said The Archers radio programme should be replaced by a show about steelworkers.
A recent survey by the Rural Stress Information Network said that one farmer a week is being driven to suicide by the pressures of cashflow and red tape.