17 April 2001
Vaccination: What the papers say
By FWi staff
REPORTS that the Government is set to introduce an emergency vaccination programme against foot-and-mouth are considered by the newspapers.
National Farmers Union president Ben Gill was due to meet Tony Blair to discuss the issue on Tuesday (17 April) pending an expected announcement.
But the Daily Mail says this is the latest U-turn in a confusing saga which has seen ministers giving conflicting messages since the crisis began.
A deadly dither over vaccination is the blunt message from the newspaper which says confusion reigns over government policy on the issue.
Columnist Christopher Booker claims that in 40 years of reporting on British politics he cannot recall a worse example of government incompetence.
He speculates that in future years this dithering will come to be seen as the the biggest single blunder of this entire horrendous story.
Mr Booker claims that so much disinformation has been heaped around the issue it is difficult to get some facts about it straight.
In The Times Magnus Linklater accuses the Ministry of Agriculture and the farming lobby of effectively burying the case for vaccinating livestock.
He says persuasive evidence for vaccination has been brushed aside by the dinosaurs of MAFF and the farmers unions.
Mr Linklater rejects arguments that vaccination is a last resort as it will finish off the export trade and that consumers would never buy vaccinated meat.
Such arguments are trotted out as the alternative is to concede that mass slaughter has been a pointless exercise, driven by dogma not reason, he argues.
Under a vaccination programme 500,000 cattle wintering in barns in Cumbria and Devon could be inoculated before being turned out on to spring pasture.
- The Times 17 April 2001, Times 2 page 7
- The Daily Mail 17 April 2001 page 4, 5 and 10