Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

[1] as Ever, a Compromise

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

[1] as Ever, a Compromise

Article excerpt

MR TONY Blair, characteristically, has gone for a compromise. If he had sincerely wanted to put off a general election until the foot-and-mouth outbreak is over, he would delay the poll until the autumn. But all the indicators suggest that, by October, the economy could be looking less healthy than it does today, and therefore that Labour's position could be less strong.

If, on the other hand, he had stuck to his preferred date of 3 May, Tory newspapers and some country-dwellers would have expressed outrage that Labour was trampling on public sensibilities by campaigning through a national crisis. So the prime minister has today settled for 7 June as the new date for the national and local elections. The delay is intended to show concern for the farming community, without seriously dislocating his party's timetable. Foot-and-mouth experts believe there is a real chance that, by early June, the crisis will have peaked. If that is indeed so, Mr Blair will have won his gamble, and done the right thing by postponing the poll for a month. His real moment of truth will come in May, when he is due to dissolve parliament, if foot-and-mouth is still raging. If that proved to be so, and today's postponement is supposed to represent anything more than gesture politics, Mr Blair would postpone again, until the autumn. But he has made plain he will not do this. Today's gesture is his last. He has also appealed to the media to emphasise to the world that most of Britain's countryside is unaffected by foot and mouth, and thus is 'open for business'. This is not true. Frightened farmers in uninfected areas are still pleading desperately with the public to stay away. Mr Blair has a big job to do, in providing clear and credible information to the entire rural community, about risk to livestock from passing pedestrians or vehicles. Until Mr Blair can dispel the current climate of fear, the fightback for the rural tourist industry cannot even begin, nor normality return. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.