‘This is why Labour is totally unfit to be let loose on countryside’

June 6, 2017

KEEP OUT: This is Labour’s legacy on the countryside with their maladministration on the 2001 and 2007 Foot and Mouth Crises. The former led losses of £3BN and £5B for agriculture and tourism.


MASS SLAUGHTER: These sheep are going onto a pyre to be burnt after they were infected from Foot and Mouth. There is a good chance these sheep may have been totally healthy if they were within a three-kilometre culling zone. Picture courtesy of Alamy Stock. 


GAFFE PRONE: In an answer to a question about the UK’s trade future with the Commonwealth post-Brexit, Foreign Office shadow spokesman Emily Thornberry said: ““Things like our food industry, you can’t export it to Australia, it will go off.”


SIXTEEN years ago today this month, this day and this minute this country was in the midst of the biggest act of maladministration ever by a UK government. in overseeing the biggest animal welfare crisis in the country’s history.

Between January and September 2001, the Labour Government led by Tony Blair oversaw the biggest modern-day animal welfare crisis in modern history and in raising this issue, I want to highlight their total indifference to the countryside, its communities and that they are totally unfit to let loose on it again.

Then cloven-hoofed animals – pigs, llamas, cattle, sheep, goats – were being kept in fields for 22 days at time to contain the nine-month Foot and Mouth outbreak.

Agriculture minister at the time Nick Brown stirred up a hornet’s nest by claiming the virus was being spread by illegal movements of livestock yet one of his colleagues refused to put his boots in disinfectant when out and about because he didn’t like the smell of it.

Former NFU chairman for Somerset said at the time: “No one is going out to risk their flocks. He is out of order for saying that. Who has put him up to it? There are small movements taking place as MAFF make out that a licence can be faxed, filled in and sent back in two days – but it takes more like a week.”

Farmers, livestock owners and children’s petting farms were amongst the businesses met with a wall of red tape when trying to move livestock to other fields for animal husbandry reasons, and there may have been movements into adjacent fields for welfare reasons, which Labour was trying to stop.

This led to the shut down of the countryside, the country show circuit went on the road but without the livestock, it became meaningless for a lot of stall holders at events like the Royal Bath and West Show, the Gillingham and Shaftesbury Show and the Dorset County Show, who lost large amounts of income in 2001.

When livestock were in a three-kilometre zone of a suspected outbreak, all movements of livestock had to cease and when there was an infected case, every animal within the three-kilometre zone was slaughtered.

It was true that apart from a case in Axbridge on the Mendip Hills, most of Dorset, south Somerset and the New Forest did not get infected, although the industry faced an animal welfare crisis with the movement restrictions.

None of the Labour ministers bothered to contact vets from the 1967 outbreak who told them they could have just taken the infected animals of the source and the neighbouring properties and buried the carcasses in quicklime. Instead of taking their advice, they slaughtered everything in the “culling zones”.

Suggestions by animal charities like the RSPCA and Compassion in World Farming to drop hay and other food to animals trapped in fields via helicopter were stonewalled by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food under then Labour Government and it subsequently got replaced by what the new acronym of Defra, the acronym cruelly turned into by some critics at the time as the Department for the Elimination of Farming and Rural Affairs.

Farmers and their supply chains were trying to protect their livestock and people in white boiler suits were turning up with rifles. Stand-offs happened in some cases when livestock owners tried to stall them whilst waiting for blood tests to verify if their herds were infected or not.

Subsequent tests that came back to farmers that were forced to have their animals slaughtered by Defra officials and contractors and they proved to be negative. The facts being that up to nine in ten animals slaughtered in 2001 were perfectly healthy.

To put into context the shutdown, think of the supply chain – hauliers, feed and agricultural machinery suppliers and rural tourism and the final figures that cost the UK were £3B for agriculture and £5B for tourism. Many other industries in the countryside too numerous to mention were affected by the restrictions too.

Sometimes it took up to a week for a movement form to be returned and that came too late for some livestock, with some of them dying in muddy fields and where were all the animal welfare charities, bar the two animal welfare charities mentioned in this article? I tell you where they were, they took donations from the Labour Party in the 1997 and then 2001 General Elections and that bought their silence.

Now Labour activists in this visceral election campaign have been using the usual dog-whistle, class-war politics of shooting and hunting with dogs and many of those same activists were silent when all this mayhem was going on and we are expected to hand over the administration of our countryside to a group of individuals who don’t seem to have learnt the lessons from that episode.

Nothing has changed that much given that would-be Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry doesn’t seem to realise the importance of the food industry in the New Forest, Dorset and Somerset.

In answer to a question about the UK’s future trade with the Commonwealth post-Brexit, she said: “Things like our food industry, you can’t export it to Australia, it will go off.”

Just to the clarify some facts and figures for the benefit of local Labour Activists, the Food and Drink Federation the UK exported £337.7M worth of food and drink Down Under and this was up 12 per cent on 2015.

This was confirmed two years ago through Jeremy Corbyn’s contempt for the countryside by appointing Kerry McCarthy, a Bristol MP, to be their Defra spokesman despite her formerly being patron of the Vegan Society.

Steve Agnew, a UKIP spokesman on agriculture and farmer, said at the time it was a totally unsuitable appointment: “She will have little in common with either the producers or consumers of food and would be better described as a Corbynist would like Defra to be renamed Department for the Eradication of Farmers and Rural Areas. “

For those in Bournemouth and Poole who may think this doesn’t matter, the conservation and farming community look after the maintenance of the countryside and tourists come to Bournemouth off the back of this and not the other way around.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Victim of FMD Outbreak June 10, 2017 at 12:22 am

Absolutely I had all my stock slaughtered and no I didn’t get rich and I’ve NEVER got over it.


LB June 10, 2017 at 12:25 am

Labour pulled the plug on Agriculture and British primary industries! He gave all the powers to Europe so they could govern us and our market no longer competitive.
Even now we have not recovered from the damage Tony Bliar did. Corbyn I think will do just as much if not more damage to farming than his slippery mate Tony. With Corbyns view on society there would be a lot of increased taxation on businesses to fund his giving to the many.
Minimum wage £10 an hour. Do you this companies will survive his model? I think it’s unviable! Will he reverse Brexit the people’s vote?
Ridding our change of keeping what is ours and determining what goes on. Those who have stuck up vote labour signs particularly in my area have been fooled by all his sugar coated empty promises which have no real financial backing.
Upon the last Labour government leaving there was a note saying that there was no money left!!! People have short memories! Each to their own though everyone sees things from a different viewpoint


AC June 10, 2017 at 12:26 am

I am quite shocked at the number of farmers around here that have put up Vote Labour sign in their roadside hedges etc


JS June 10, 2017 at 12:27 am

Surely no farmer would vote for labour!? That’s like a turkey voting for Christmas!


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