Leading article: Warn, yes; scare, no

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The Independent Culture
IN THE old days millenarians were worried about the end of the world. Now we are worried about whether the fridges will work when the date hits a big round number. The Government is caught on the horns of a classic dilemma: it wants us to be worried, but not too worried.

Gwynneth Flower, head of the Government's own Millennium Bug task force, seems to have gone too far in the direction of the counter-productive cry: "Don't panic!" Her call for people to stockpile cans of soup, curries, tuna, packets of biscuits and long-life milk was silly. "Squirrel" Thatcher got into similar trouble when she advised pensioners to hoard tins as a hedge against inflation in 1975. What Ms Flower meant to say was: don't expect your local supermarket to be open on Saturday 1 January 2000, because, however well prepared retailers are, something unforeseen could go wrong somewhere along the food supply chain. Thanks for the tip.