Five questions: Foot and Mouth Campaign Speech from Greens' Dr Richard Lawson
On 2nd June, Campaigners opposed to MAFFs slaughter policy met for a fundraising event in the beautiful setting of Tapeley Park, North Devon. Dr Richard Lawson, the Green Party's Foot and Mouth Disease Campaign Co-ordinatorwas among those who addressed the gathering. The following is a precis of Dr Lawson's speech, built around five questions that should be put to the Labour Government.
"The beauty of the Devon countryside does not bring joy to my heart, because my mind is occupied with frustration, anger and resentment over MAFFs destructive FMD control policy. Many in the audience with direct experience of MAFFs tactics have experienced intimidation and fear also.
MAFFs admits to having killed 3 million. The figure rises fo 8 million if we include slaughter on suspicion and contiguous culls. It may rise to 10 million if lambs and calves are included.
First question to Nick Brown: what is the upper limit of animals that you are prepared to kill, before you are prepared to move to a vaccination policy? 20% of the herd? 50%? 100%?
Tony Blair said last week that there is no alternative to the "ghastly" cull. This is untrue.
Vaccination should be allowed at very least for farmers and owners who resist the cull. He was not prepared to push vaccination against the wishes of the farmers, yet is prepared to slaughter against their wishes, even within the private houses. This makes no logical or ethical sense. Vaccination, with subsequent testing for FMDV and mobile abbatoirs to allow the meat safely to enter the food chain is a humane, healthy, economic and practical alternative to mass slaughter of healthy animals.
Second question to Nick Brown: Will you allow vaccination instead of slaughter to owners who request it?
Mass slaughter creates insuperable public health problems.
Third question to Tony Blair: Who will accept responsibility for any new cases of vCJD that may arise in the human population in 20 years time? Six weeks have elapsed since this question was first put to him. No answer has been given, except a note from an official to say that the letter has been passed to Nick Brown. Blair appeared last week in front of a slogan "Taking Responsibility". His failure to answer this question turns the slogan into empty spin.
The fourth question: an internal inquiry into this affair is not acceptable. Will Mr Blair order a full independent public inquiry into all aspects of FMD UK 2001?
There is general agreement that MAFF will be disbanded and a ministry of Rural Affairs or similar shall be formed.
Fifth question: Will the next Government see to it that MAFF officials responsible for the current unacceptable policy are pensioned off? To simply transfer them to renamed posts is not acceptable.
Dr Lawson went on to discuss the means of bringing MAFF to justice, and restructuring agriculture along sustainable lines. Members of the Resistance are big on motivation and spirit but small in numbers. Although the vast majority of the people find MAFFs policy repulsive and stupid, they feel powerless to change the situation. Social catastrophe theory shows that this can change unexpectedly. Already, there is widespread disillusionment with politicians. There is still time for the BBC and other media to raise these questions in the election, but the signs are not hopeful. The absence of any debate over F&M in the current election will not have been missed by the voters. The BBC, which has avoided putting any serious questions to the politicians over F&M, may find itself facing mass non-payment of TV licence fees.
There is a loss of respect for government. This was the first symptom of the fall of Communism.
If by Thursday, there has still been no coverage of these serious questions relating to F&M, the normal channels of democracy will have been exhausted, and we have therefore to move to nonviolent direct action and civil disobedience. With a little leadership from the Resistance, whole villages could be persuaded to declare themselves a MAFF free area, resusing to serve the agents in shops and pubs, refusing eye contact, or treating them to public harangues on the unacceptability of the orders they are following. They may find themselves treated as an occupying army.
Tyrrany and stupid policies can be destructive, but cannot last forever. The Earth is strong, and the human spirit is also strong. Good may come of the great evil that has contaminated our beautiul land."
ffi contact Dr Richard Lawson 01934 835140