About the Bristol Conference

(Report on speeches)

Comment ~ There were about 130 vets there I'd guess. Owen Paterson was there as was Christopher Booker - but no one wore name stickers - this was deliberate policy.

I was so pleased to meet Jon, the Boags, Val L , Alan and Rosie, Lawrence, the Welsh Warrior (Roy Miller) and lots of other people I knew only by name. Many people made themselves known to me afterwards, perhaps because I asked a question. It was about whether Ken Tyrell thought that it is possible for the vets in this country to follow Dr Peter Poll's lead in refusing to have any part in a slaughter policy again. (This drew applause from the audience - but also the observation that the govt would then only go and employ foreign vets at half the price. However, Peter Poll thought the farmers would revolt if that was done. I agree. If we had a MORAL lead from the vets a great deal would follow)

The lecture theatre in the Chemistry dept in Bristol was nearly full. Carlton tv stayed until nearly the end. The speakers were scientists and therefore stuck to the facts - completely convincing to the likes of me, of course, but there was no attempt to use emotive language or to try to persuade the audience - not oratory.

Questions at the end showed that the vets in the audience were mainly rather quiet; most questions did not come from the vets -perhaps they had heard enough to be convinced, but it is not easy to stand up and be counted when no one else there is wearing an identification label and it was after all rumoured that several Defra people were there.

NFU ( several there) were defensive about their stance and explained that if the govt had reassured them that any losses incurred from a two-tier system brought about by vaccination would have been underwritten, (so that farmers who did find they had lost the market for their animals could be compensated) they would have supported vaccination in April. Richard Haddock urged people to sign the NFU petition about import controls - which many did. I was rather impressed by Richard Eyres (not sure of spelling) who sat next to me and was intent throughout, making notes. He is a dairy farmer (NFU official) and evidently very saddened by the past months and genuinely trying to do what is best. He learned a lot - as did we all.

The lack of understanding, ignorance and downright misinformation about FMD in the minds of decision makers is very chilling. The panel were able to put paid to many myths that have been circulated. I doubt if anyone came away from that long meeting unconvinced that vaccination would work and ought to be used now in spite of reassurances coming from Whitehall - ( and that, far from being expensive and difficult, you would only need to vaccinate cattle for the disease to die out in farms having both cattle and sheep together.)
The main problem, as always, is the EU Commission. The misinformation coming from the government and swallowed hook, line and sinker by most others makes the simple solution of vaccination even more heartbreakingly difficult. In exasperation, Dr Peter Poll from Utrecht, the vet who is persauding the rest of Holland's vets never to cooperate in a slaughter piolicy again, said - why oh why are we all so frightened of opposing Brussels? They are not Hitler or Stalin....and went on to urge the unions to oppose the restrictive and senseless rules that have caused us all such misery..."They are not written on tablets of stone!" he said. None of the speakers would be drawn on a hidden agenda.

I've done a brief report but will be writing more fully (on warmwell) on the text of what Paul Sutmoller says when he sends me his notes.

Bill and Alicia Eyken and Wendy Vere MRCVS did a splendid job - as did Joyce de Silva who spoke at the beginning (CIWF Trust paid for the conference) Ken Tyrrell spoke simply and to great effect about his horror and disgust.

The scientists were very jolly and human in the pub afterwards. I am proud to report that I bought each of them a well-earned drink.

All the best