i Editor's Letter: Stop blaming the little people


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The Independent Online


The latest example of big business blaming us, the general public, for everything that goes wrong in life comes from the Potato Council, which says that amateur gardeners are responsible for the spread of potato blight.

Potato farmers across the UK have had a bad time this year because of the wet summer and they are blaming the prevalence of potato blight (always a problem in rainy weather) on amateur gardeners and allotmenteers. Apparently, says the Potato Council, grow-your-own gardeners don't recognise the symptoms of blight and have no idea how to control it.

My friend Helen, who has an allotment in Worcestershire, says that when they had an outbreak of blight, they weren't allowed to burn the affected plant material because of council planning regulations. So it went into the council's green waste! Perhaps the Potato Council might like to look at that before it starts blaming amateur gardeners.

There's far too much of this going on. Banks blame fraud on their customers, who they say are negligent about keeping their account details secure.

O2 blamed its recent network outage, which left thousands of customers unable to use their phones, on the Friday evening "rush hour", where everyone gets on the phone the minute they leave work. Life would go so much more smoothly, it would seem, if it wasn't for us, the little people, getting in the way.

Potato Council chairman Allan Stevenson is quoted as saying: "It would be preferable if people bought healthy potatoes from their retailer rather than grow their own."

From the farmers', and the retailers', point of view I'm sure it would be preferable. The banks would no doubt think it was preferable if we just handed them our money, and never required access to our accounts.

The mobile phone companies would probably regard it as preferable if we paid for our contracts but never phoned our families and friends. But you know what? It's never going to happen. As my teenage daughter would say, deal with it.

Stefano Hatfield is away

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