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 The TT The Case for the Defence

John Shand

The debate on wether or not the TT should be run this year has been waging on for many months now, with many different view points being put across.

TT entrant and TT Website contributor John Shand is a well respected character in the sport and was asked to do an interview for Manx Radio earler this week regarding the foot and mouth criss.

The Case for the Defence PART ONE

The farming lobby has done a good job of convincing the public of their plight and so far has managed to scrape up a lot of sympathy from the political and social thinkers.

However this outbreak is in the wake of BSE and the damage control "Network" have already a lot of practice at convincing the public at large that the farmer is the aggrieved person and we must go along with the directives of "Those who know best"

Well let's take a look at the overall picture here.

Firstly the disease started out because some greedy farmer gave untreated pig swill to his animals in order to save a few bob. Then the virus took hold and spread about the pig industry first. The disease usually starts in pig farms as these animals eat any old rubbish the farmer can get a hold of, and keeps the pigs in an intensive feeding situation, so the animals never get to see the light of day or get to participate in their natural environment. This concentrated stocking and feeding policy is for no other reason than money.

So it was bad farming practice that set the ball rolling. But it has spread now and we already have the situation where farmers in Ireland are smuggling animals out of infected areas again in the interest of nothing else than money. Where is the good farming practice in smuggling?

The disease is NOT fatal. It's like getting a bad dose of the flu; another virus they have not been able to contain for over 2000 years but the animal will recover.

But the fact the disease is contagious, it is more expedient to shoot the animals rather than perform some kind of nursing back to health programme. The animal rights activists are quite happy to stop the slaughter of seal pups in the Arctic regions as its good PR and attract the attention of the media, but how many are stepping up now and offering to assist the animals through the foot and mouth thing without shooting any healthy animals. I have not exactly seen the protesters out in the streets to do this kind act. Again it's only got something to do with money.

So lets face it the farmer cocked it up. But to rub salt in the wound so to speak they are now asking that everybody whom they can convince to tidy the mess up for them. More than that they ask for money in compensation for every animal shot and the taxpayer to provide it. As well as that the population is being asked to reduce certain activities so their money be it from compensation or saved stock, remains safe.

Reducing these activities has some thin reasoning also. The "Network" suggests that the virus can be carried in motorcycle leathers, under car mudguards and in the inner speedo cable of 1952 Nortons. Of course it can so can any virus if the conditions are OK. However the most likely way will be by the good old-fashioned transporting of animals about the place to the socially acceptable. Polo matches and Horse racing venues and the odd Hunt where a few dogs get into the act and do their bit. But have the network shut down the countryside? Hell no; there is money and there is BIG money, and the one with the best chequebook takes precedence here. At the other end of the scale is the evil bastards who are sneaking about the place late at night shifting livestock somewhere else.

Meantime we obediently walk through the disinfectant mats with a set of dirty golf clubs under our arms. So when we witness the rural lot doing their bit then we can try to do our bit but its no idea to be looking under motorcycle mudguards for a virus that more likely to be tucked up in the blood warm heat of some Polo ponies arse.

While on the subject of power and money we need to take a look at where motorcycle sport is in the socially acceptable scale of importance. Well, we are not very high up. Horse racing is near the top. The Royal Family engages in this. Rugby is played in all the correct schools so it's near the top. Not all people from the correct families play football but this sport has so much money they don't have to ask or be told what to do. No. I'm afraid that motorcycle racing is way way down. Noisy, smelly and supported by tattooed shitkickers who rape old ladies at bus stops and bring disrepute to the human race.

So when the "Network" needs a whipping boy sport we can go to the top of the list. Its easy to jump down their throats and demand they toe the line, so they can rest satisfied that they have taken the right precautionary steps in controlling this disease on the loose while themselves getting in a quick round of golf in Cumbria.

Our sport does not have such powerful connections and money to do what we will or does it?

How will the Manx businessman fare through all this?

He will loose out three times. First he will not get his usual revenue from the TT. So his annual turnover will drop down. He will receive less money and pay less tax. Secondly all his customers who also have a small or large business will not visit his shop.

They too are in the same boat. No discretionary spending money. Thirdly he may be asked to pay a little more tax to help pay for the farmers new cows and to make him feel less sad about shooting the old ones.

The downward spiral continues and soon he has not enough money to survive himself as he is last in the queue of sympathy and handouts and the guy he helped to save was first in the queue; Mr Farmer.

So if they decide to call off the TT all the people who have booked may still continue to attend, even with no racing. Maybe some of them are the same ilk of the evil farmer who smuggled away his livestock bad buggers. Maybe they are so pissed off with the race being called off. They ride through every infected are they can find and roll around in fields to make sure they have a better than even chance of infecting the island for some kind of misplaced revenge.

But at the end of the day it's all about money. Nothing else even comes close. Pure money and the trappings it can bring. So the TT must go ahead for no other reason than to bring money. Lots of money as the NW200 is off so there is double the potential customers for the Islands businesses.

In Europe there are two major sporting events that take place over a two-week period and both generate more than 60 million pounds. Wimbledon Tennis Tournament and the TT. Would the Ice Cream and Strawberry clique bow down to the whims of the "Network" and cancel the Tennis. Never because most of the people involved are the "Network" The socially acceptable sport. The right connections. Don't let our sport shy away from the money---we have as much right to make some as they have.

In fact there is a lot of money to be made at the TT so we are in the same boat as the football followers. They have so much money they don't need to listen to the "Network" They just go ahead and play each weekend. We are probably on the same social level as them and there is no reason why we just need to give the two-finger salute to those trying to stop us.

Trouble is that we are not organized. We have never worried about the big issues and neither care or can get a lobby group together. The sport is too fragmented and such an individual enterprise there is often little agreement. But at the top end of the sport are the people who make revenue from it. Good luck to them. They are the only ones who can save it by using the same tactics that are being used against them. The goal being money.

This whole load of bullshit over the so-called epidemic is about no other thing than money. So at the end of the day, those who want to carry on with the TT must gather up all those who seek the same rewards, set a plan, and chase the pot of gold.

But there is a plan that will work If they call off the TT they must also try to prevent the influx of spectators. It's not the competitors who will bring the disease as they get there a week early and can go through all the routines of disinfecting. There is time to do this and the manpower. But when the punters arrive, well that's another thing. But so many punters will come over regardless so they can carve up the locals on the mountain and get pissed and create a bloody sight more havoc than if the event was on. This is a very real possibility.

So they must make some sort of an attempt to shut down the island. Any other course of action is folly. But if they try to shut down the island, that's sending all the absolutely wrong signals to the banking and money industry. This accounts for 80% of the economy. To shut down would be a major disaster to them. They will want to find another island with a Government that does not give a shit about the few animals running about. The Canary Islands The Seychelles etc etc.

So its money that will save the TT in a funny kind of way. The Money Industry. So the lobby group needs to include every bank manager, every businessman and every influential person who stands to loose money if the Island shuts down.

Then you will find out who the clever buggers are. Then the common sense will prevail. The strongest possible message must come from the money brokers that the ferries must run, the business houses run at full speed and the normal routine continues. And the TT goes ahead like it has for the last 95 odd years.

The Case for the Defence PART TWO

Here are some points to consider of the whole issue from a New Zealander who has lived with the threat of an outbreak of this disease for 35 years.

The Isle of Man is an island, just the same as New Zealand so the easiest way to prevent the arrival of a virus is to just shut the place down. But we live in the real world so it's not possible or practical to do this. Instead there must be a balanced programme of protection based on the likelihood of the goods or persons arriving carrying the infection.

People must be allowed to go about their normal business, whatever that may be. Sporting events must not be stopped or anything that prevents the normal interaction of people in their normal daily routines.

Once that is out of the way and clearly understood by everybody, then the Government and the various departments can set about reducing the risk. All one can ever do is reduce the risk, it can never be eliminated. Wind currents and other quirks of nature can never be controlled.

Therefore once everybody understands that the first objective is to continue with daily life then everybody can then go about in the business of mutual support and helping each other to take positive steps in risk reducing. Otherwise a "Them and Us" situation arises and the emotive issues overtake the situation and so much time is spent appointing blame and entering into unnecessary debate, the preventative programme falls behind schedule and for sure, the cooperation level drops below the danger line.

Foot and Mouth is spread most easily by infected animals passing on the virus directly through contact with others. That's at the top end of the scale. Then it goes down to the highly unlikely end of the scale such as mail being posted from an infected area to an uninfected area.

But for the Isle of Man they have the best chance at defense… Simple old fashioned Border Control.

The only way to get there is by air or sea. So the major issue that should be addressed at as an urgent priority is "HOW GOOD IS OUR BORDER CONTROL"

No other issue then matters. Such as should the Isle of Man TT races be on or off. What about the Island Games. The list can go on Ad Nauseum. Everything goes ahead but everything undergoes the strictest methods known, to reduce the risk.

There is talk of compensation to various businesses if certain events do not take place as well as compensation to farmers if the disease takes hold.

Spend the money now on Border Control. In the long run it will be the best investment as its showing the whole population that the Government is acting in everybody's interest and not sectors and special interest groups.

How good is the Border Control at present in the Isle of Man. Of course the best answer is very good because the island is disease free. Over 200,000 movements on and off the place since the disease broke out. This suggests that with such a good track record it's no idea to think about canceling sporting events or to slow down on the expected influx of summer visitors.

But the new challenge is to cope with a big influx of visitors over a short period of time. Thousands coming in for the TT and the Island games in a 36-hour period for example. Then the Border Controls can break down and things go wrong.

That's where the fear of infection creeps upward in people's minds. That's when the emotions are laid bare.

So the key job is to take all the necessary steps to have the best Border Controls available to allow the events to proceed.

Why not go to the New Zealand Department of Agriculture or consult with the Minister of Agriculture and find out what is done to maintain top quality services that have kept that country disease free since it was discovered. Especially in the Asia Pacific region where it is well established in some parts.

Call in the Experts. There are many. Also in Australia and other countries, you have the chance to compare their Border Control policies and find out if the Manx ones fall short.

The "Buzz" or the "Whisper" is that the Border Controls are not what they could be. For example on landing in New Zealand, planes are sprayed by the Agricultural Department officers and passengers asked to sit in the fumes for 5 minutes. Adequate notices are provided during the flight explaining why this is being done.

Another good system is the Amnesty Bin where one can throw any food object or item they fear to be a problem to save the risk of making a false declaration on the landing card.

So its fair to suggest that there is room for a lot of improvement in controlling what comes across the border. There are many suggestions worthy of merit.

To the question of economics. It's really easy to answer. The TT, the Island games, and any other major activity over the next few months will bring in over 100 million pounds to the Isle of Man. Probably a lot more. The TT alone will bring in about 60 million.

So its not very difficult for any Government or Servant of the Government to justify the spending of 2% or 3% Two or three million, in instituting a proper and first class state of the art Border Control System that deals with the problem. Nobody in his or her right mind would oppose it.

Of course it has a downstream effect of cleaning out the drug problem and other related activities the normal customs and excise personnel have to deal with day by day so the money invested goes further than expected.

In conclusion. You have a nice Island with great traditions and a future based on the traditions, as well as the introduction of new activities and events that make the place special. It should always be this way. Any problem that comes along that places any of these traditions or activities in any sort of compromising situation, and can be seen to affect the economy of the people individually or collectively, a solution must be found that protects these interests. Control Your Borders.


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