Saturday, October 14, 2006

Using you, using me.. ?

In a stance reminiscent of the General Sir Richard Dannatt's statement on Iraq, its relationship to government policy and the media, which our sister site has flagged up: ,

Western Morning News yesterday placed the head of the 'Sustainable Food and Farming Delivery Group, Sir Don Curry, squarely in the frame over the politically thorny issue of bovine tb.

For the full article, see link at:

"Bovine Tb is a barrier to progress for so many livestock farmers in the region", said Sir Don, while on a visit to the Westcountry. And he continued "Until we recognise the source of the infection in wildlife, we shan't make the progress that is so vital. There are many of us who have believed for a long time that we need a comprehensive campaign to beat bovine Tb."

Quite. And the key word here is 'us', in fact the 'many of us' Sir Don is reported as saying.

Your cynical contributers believe that Sir Don's timely statement is a smaller echo of the situation we see with General Sir Richard Dannatt, the Daily Mail (and others) and the British army's presence in Iraq, still under scrutiny at;

Government knows what it needs to do, but for reasons of perceived 'popular support' either in the form of votes, donations or inter country links, is reluctant to step into the frame and so spins up a heavyweight 'outsider' to the media, who then spearheads the unsavoury decision for them. That it was the decision which government wanted to make anyway is thus removed from their responsibility and media reporting attributes the idea to an independent source.

More in Western Morning News' editorial: which concludes:

"No one relishes the prospect of a badger cull, but those who oppose it need to recognise that there are animal welfare issues involved that transcend their routine arguments. There is the welfare of the wildlife afflicted with this spreading disease; there is the welfare of the cattle [ .. ]and there is the welfare too of the farming economy that is vital to the life of the countryside and the nation as a whole."

Government recognise this; of course they do. But the RSPCA's / Badger Trust's recent campaign only shows that with skewed information, there are more votes in dead badger than a dead cow. Coupled with an administration which has handed responsibility for the security and safety of British food production to the supermarkets, government desperately need a figurehead to extract them from the ever deeper hole (of bTb) which they have excavated for themselves over the last almost ten years.

In Sir Don Curry they may just have found one.


CGJon said...

All very similar to Gordon giving "control" of interest rates to the Bank of England, when things go pear-shaped, he can hold his hands up and say "Nothing to do with the Government" - BoE does what he tells them anyway.

Matthew said...

Yes, you are right; and hasn't government given SVS 'agency' status, which technically keeps them at arms' length too?

Anonymous said...

Mmmm. Sir Don doesn't metion anything about scientific evidence. And that is the thing missing from the farmers' arguments. The Badger Trust are able to quote peer reviewed scientific evidence, the farmers can only quote individual experiences, economics and hearsay. I have every sympathy with the farmers on this, but Government will not announce a controversial badger cull unless it can fall back on peer reviewed science as justification. Its simple politics in a very complicated and hugely damaging (to farm incomes) area.

Matthew said...

The Badger Trust is quoting the ISG / RBCT which is in turn peer reviewed by ... the ISG / RBCT, and that very selctively.

We would query the 'scientific' bit as well. Three of us have had the experience of being 'Krebbed'. This could be described as many things, but 'science' it most certainly was not.

As we have said before, Miliband will not address the issue at all - he's not in the business of committing political suicide - but particularly while the reported NHI (New Herd Incidence) figures are below last years'. He said this at a meeting in Staffordshire last week.

You are right to say 'its simple politics' but unfortunately, this seriously infectious zoonosis doesn't recognise such animals as slippery, duplicitous politicians. Sooner or later, its 'spillover' other than to cattle will hit the headlines. Either that, or GB's trading status will be scuppered by EU regulation, already on the statute book.
We've no idea what was behind Sir Don Curry's remarks. That he may have done some night reading on bTb research, other than the tortured data of the first year of the RBCT from the ISG, is quite possible. There is enough of it around.