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More is at stake than election date

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Issue 1741

What we think

More is at stake than election date

THE DATE of the general election has dominated political discussion this week. The Tories were looking for an excuse for the election to be put off. They claimed that this was because of the foot and mouth crisis. But the truth is the Tories would seize on any excuse to put back an election in which they fear being slaughtered.

Tony Blair was just as opportunist in his desire not to have to delay the election. He is terrified that the darkening economic situation in the US could soon spread to Britain.

If that happens Gordon Brown’s talk of avoiding “boom and bust” would look ridiculous, as factories shut and dole queues lengthen. Whenever the election comes New Labour and the Tories will unite in pushing a pro-business, pro-market message. But it is such policies that have made the foot and mouth crisis worse.

The drive to deregulate agriculture and trade has made the current outbreak much worse than the last one in 1967. The crisis has been fuelled by the way the market has seen giant firms concentrate production and slaughter of animals, and ship them vast distances purely to boost profit.

Both the Tories and New Labour have cut back on the number of vets in Britain. And both have presided over the insane workings of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF), which every commentator now agrees has made the crisis worse.

MAFF has long been completely subservient to the interests and profits of giant agribusiness corporations and a handful of big farmers. At the election all the main parties will be recommending even more pro-business policies.

The Socialist Alliance and Scottish Socialist Party will be saying no to market madness whether in agriculture, transport or public services like health and education. The choice is clear.

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