12 April 2001
Papers sceptical on foot-and-mouth
By FWi staff
BRITAINS newspapers show a degree of scepticism about government claims that the foot-and-mouth epidemic is starting to flatten.
The Daily Telegraph says it is hard for people to judge what is happening because Parliament is in recess and the Ministry of Agriculture has gone quiet.
The papers editorial comment accuses the Labour government of trying to confuse and mislead in order to defect criticism from its own shortcomings.
“As a result, we do not know whether yesterdays foot-and-mouth news really was promising,” it says.
The Times examines how the relationship between farmers and MAFF has soured with accusations that farmers are contributing to the spread of the disease.
But it criticises the National Farmers Unions refusal to accept or even discuss the possibility that even any farmer might be breaking the rules.
This is a tactical error that could lose public sympathy for farmers, it says. “Rational discussion and co-operation, are still the only way forward.”
The Daily Express also urges readers to treat Professor Kings claim that the disease could be over by September with caution.
It points out that other assurances that the disease is under control have proved unfounded and premature.
One farmer will have to have his animals killed because MAFF lost an application to move them as an example of the ministrys incompetence.
The Express says that the farmer “and others like him need definite answers to get through this crisis not just speculation or chaotic management.”