Have watched 'Week in week out' tonight, which had quite a lot of good stuff in it, for a change,Roy Miller, farmer, started off saying that the treatment has been more deadly than the disease, that the rural economy has been brought to its knees and that the government had lost control early on, panicked and then massively over-reacted. We met Ann Jones, a farmer who was 10 miles away from the nearest case but, nevertheless, a young and inexperienced vet had identified something (mistakenly, of course) 'wrong' with an animal and all her sheep had been slaughtered.
Dr. Paul Kitching next commented that the models used had not been correct. He also said that you cannot make clinical diagnosis of f and m in sheep, because there are so many other things that can give similar symptoms.
Back to Roy Miller, who said that the Welsh Assembly were nothing but Blair's puppets - and went on to talk about the disease being spread by the slaughter teams themselves, and the dripping corpses on lorries, etc. He also mentioned the disgrace of live sheep being tipped from lorries at Epynt - and also infected animals being dumped there.
The interviewer then said to Carwyn Jones, 'Many believe the government saw f and m as the perfect excuse to change the face of farming', to which C.J. replied that that was merely a minority view. He continued that as soon as the contiguous cull had been implemented in Anglesey, Powys and the Brecon Beacons, the disease stopped - and that was the only way to have got rid of it. Other comments from C.J. - "Experts come out of the woodwork on occasions like this", "Ministry vets are the very best vets we have", "Animals were examined before being sent to Epynt, and only ones without the disease were sent there; infected animals were always disposed of on site". The interviewer again suggested that "Whitehall wanted these animals dead". Finally, C.J. supported the government in not having a full public inquiry, saying that it would take far too long and that what people wanted was answers quickly.
Enter lovely Dr. Ruth Watkins, who presented a clear case for vaccination, saying that it would 'control, contain and eradicate'. (Professor Fred Brown was shown here briefly, at the Bristol meeting, saying that vaccinated animals were considered safe. Unfortunately, that was all from him). Ruth continued to say that, with vaccination, the epidemic could have been over by the end of April. She said the government had started off being ignorant and incompetent and moved on to showing some malevolence. Professor Peter Midmore said that their refusal to vaccinate showed 'a serious weakness in government'.
Back to C.J.(in a studio discussion with Roy and Ruth). It was suggested to him that the government had been driven by panic, and that they were also only concerned about large-scale farming and the export trade. C.J. replied that family farms in Wales which produce lambs all support the export trade, and if the ban were to continue for a long time, all these farms would go to the wall.
When questioned about vaccination, C.J. presented a few different reasons for not vaccinating:
(a) 'There's not enough vaccine. I checked this morning and they've only got 9 million vaccines for all UK and we've got 11 million sheep alone here'(it was pointed out that all animals wouldn't have to initially be vaccinated);
(b) 'After vaccinating, nothing can move out for 12 months' (it was pointed out that things would be moving much sooner if vaccination had taken place at the beginning); (c) 'It's easier to vaccinate in the Netherlands than here, where sheep are all over the hills' (it was pointed out that if they can be rounded up for testing and slaughter, they could be rounded up for vaccination);
(d) That, in future, one wouldn't know what strain to vaccinate against (it was pointed out that, if we had f and m again, we would know what the strain was); (e) That walkers and tourists wouldn't like walking through areas of vaccinated sheep - they wouldn't be able to do it 'without feeling that the area is blighted in some way!' (!!)
C.J. insisted throughout that the best course of action had been taken and the disease had been stopped. He also insisted that they'd acted in the best interest of small farmers and that, if they had really wanted to get rid of them,they could have found a much cheaper way of doing it than by taking this course of action!
So there you are, folks! Probably left some things out, but I think I've captured the gist of it. I fear that some innocent viewers may be swung over by C. J's confident tone and his apparently open manner. He also smiles quite a lot (why do I think of the smile on the face of the tiger?) - his presentation reminds me of Blair's, in some ways.
It seems that more information is gradually coming out on TV, etc - but too late, I fear!