Thursday, January 17, 2008

Barbados Report No 8

Its a fair bet that I'm the only one basking under the Barbadian sun today who is thinking about Foot and Mouth Disease. This is not quite as sad as it seems. Firstly, I'd just finished my book and my mind was wandering. It was Dan Brown's 'Digital Fortress' - a thoroughly good read I thought. The other book I've just finished is a history of the Arab-Israeli Conflict - a real life tragedy more complex and difficult to solve than anything Dan Brown could possibly conjure up.

Second reason the Foot and Mouth Disease was on my mind is that the BBC rang me earlier today hoping I could do Good Morning Wales tomorrow to comment on a couple of reports that are being published today by National Assembly for Wales Committees. Even though I don't know what these reports are about, I don't expect them to say much new. But I would have liked the interview just the same. Its an issue that has caused massive losses to the UK livestock farming industry, something the NFU are trying to quantify as a claim against the Government (probably futile but must be done). It is also the issue which demonstrated more clearly than any other fr me why Gordon Brown is a very poor Prime Minister.

Since last summer's outbreak, Gordon Brown has called as witness to his supposed 'competence ' the way in which he handled this 'crisis'. This is preposterous. Firstly it was the Government which bears responsibility for releasing the virus in the first place - by cutting corners in the maintenance of the drainage infrastructure of the animal diseases research site at Pirbright, the source of the outbreak. We cannot put direct personal responsibility on Gordon Brown for this - but he was responsible for the disgraceful attempt to dump all the blame on Meriel, a US research company which shared the site. The drainage infrastructure was the responsibility of the UK Government.

But the real reason where I thought Brown acted disgracefully was over how he handled the matter of compensation to livestock farmers. Now sometimes there are things that you just know to be true. You just know - but you cannot prove it. This is one such case. When the outbreak happened the Prime Minister was riding high in the polls and was planning a General Election. He decided that the position for farmers was so serious that the Treasury should offer compensation. I just know that this was communicated to the industry by Gordon Brown himself. I also know that it will be denied. Over the following weekend, our Prime Minister decided not to call an Election after all - and withdrew the compensation package, insisting that the money came from the Defra budget.

Now, this matters a lot to Wales. If it was Treasury money, Wales gets a share. But if its Defra money, Wales has to find any compensation from within its existing budget. If today's Assembly reports bring this quite disgraceful and underhand bit of trickery out into the open, they will be worth reading. Otherwise, I suspect that they will tell us no more than what we know already. Now its back to the sunshine.


Dr. Christopher Wood said...

Who was it who said, "[i]f you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it"?

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

Footnote: if you are worried about foot and mouth, be a lot more afraid of what Brown’s government is directly responsible for – the creation of man-animal cells on British soil. Anyone seen the Twelve Monkeys movie?

Glyn Davies said...

Christopher - or will eventually see it for what it is - a big lie. Its just a question of repeating the accusation that its a big lie for long enough.