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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Do sheep vote?

The Labour candidates in Blaenau Gwent must be crying into their beer tonight after it transpired that they have not just upset local farmers but they have offended the sheep as well A press release from the Farmers Union of Wales has been circulated demanding an apology.

Headlined 'Election candidates told to apologise for sheep slur', the missive went on to accuse Labour's candidates, John Hopkins and Owen Smith, of releasing campaign material blaming farmers for problems that are caused by vandals:

The leaflet, which bears the title "Action on Sheep Nuisance", calls for "action to stop sheep from straying on to roads, parks and gardens".

But rather than blame the yobs who damage farm property by ripping up fences and stealing gates, the leaflet implies that "irresponsible farmers" are the main cause of the problem and demands that spot fines be imposed on them.

"Although they rightly condemn the yobs and gangs who ruin the lives of hard-working families in another part of the leaflet, as soon as they talk about roaming sheep the blame shifts entirely onto the farmer," said Lorraine Howells, chairman of the FUW’s Common Land Committee.

"No mention is made in the sheep section of stopping the vandalism and antisocial behaviour that is the real cause of the problem.

"The reasoning is on a par with blaming a hit and run victim for being in the path of a speeding stolen car. It doesn’t make sense," she said.

The press release continues to quote Miss Howells:

"As candidates in the Blaeanau Gwent elections, I am surprised that they chose to scapegoat a section of the community who are just as much victims in this issue as anyone else."

During yesterdays meeting in Ebbw Vale it was agreed that site meetings would be held in problem areas where fences and other farm property had been vandalised, said Miss Howells.

"I hope that Messrs Smith and Hopkins decide to enlighten themselves by attending these meetings, if they are elected – it will give them a chance to apologise to the victims of vandalism that they have so grossly insulted."

It is a very serious issue and I have every sympathy with local farmers who are the victims of such mindless vandalism, however I cannot get the image out of my mind of Owen Smith and John Hopkins apologising to each sheep individually.
Is it possible for escaped sheep to be scapegoats? My head hurts...
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