Labour's FMD Response a Lesson in Arrogance

Responding to The Government submission to the Lessons Learned Inquiry into Foot and Mouth, Peter Ainsworth, Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs comments:

"It will come as no surprise to anyone that the Government's submission to the Anderson Inquiry into the Foot and Mouth outbreak is an object lesson in arrogance, larded with complacency, peppered with evasion, and served up with dollops of whitewash.

"The Government complains that "this was an outbreak on an unprecedented scale", but makes no serious attempt to explain why it got so badly out of control in the first place;

"They boast that it was "a tremendous achievement" that the disease was brought under control in 8 months, when Tony Blair said that they were on the "home straight" after only 11 weeks;

"The submission states that 'over 4 million animals were culled' when in fact the total number, confirmed by DEFRA, was closer to 11 million. It claims 'the initial response was rapid' when it took three days to introduce a movement ban, allowing the disease to spread.

"They claim that "the initial response was rapid" when it took three days to introduce a movement ban, during which animals were spreading the disease up and down the country;

"They say that "comprehensive contingency plans were in place", which is flatly contradicted by the evidence, and by the fact that only this month the Government announced a new set of contingency plans;

"They state that "there was clear leadership" when every independent report so far published has highlighted an appalling absence of leadership, and a state of utter confusion;

"They say that "the MoD was informed ot the outset". They do not explain why it took three weeks to get the army involved in sorting out the shambles;

"They contradict themselves over vaccination policy, saying that "it has never successfully been used" and then that they "considered" using it;

"On pyres, they say that "the worst option would have been to leave carcasses to rot in the fields", yet this is exactly what happened;

"They say that "rapid eradication of FMD was clearly in the best long term interests of both farming and tourism", omitting to mention that the way they went about it cost the tourism industry # billions, and that thousands of rural businesses are still feeling the pain;

"They do not say why they failed to heed the warning signs before the disease struck; or why they did not follow the advice of the Report into the 1968 outbreak; or why their culling policy was imposed using inaccurate computerised maps; or why they have refused to hold a full independent Public Inquiry into the outbreak.

"They have the effrontery to imply that they did a pretty good job, all things considered, when everyone knows they did a thoroughly lousy job. This is another shabby attempt at rewriting history through spin."