Merthyr Tydfil’s Tourism Delights and Labour Amnesia


It’s a pleasure to follow the excellent guest posts on tourism and heritage that have generated a fair amount debate, shining a light on the dubious practices of the Welsh tourism industry and how these practices affect local communities as a result of flawed Welsh Government policy.

The focus of the posts so far has been on the neglect of heritage, history and tourism in rural Wales under non-Labour councils which – and though it’s not a view I share – could perhaps be expected. I say that because most people in rural Wales vote Plaid Cymru, Tory or Lib Dem, so wasting public money, trashing our heritage and screwing people over, has no consequences, electoral or otherwise, for the Labour Party.

But what about a Labour-controlled council in the Valleys, surely they’d take more care of local history and heritage when their own party’s history is intertwined with the area?

The Plan

If only that were true, Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council, the smallest local authority in Wales and back in Labour hands since 2012 as the result of an appalling smear campaign to oust the Independents who’d run the Council and started many of the successful projects that Labour councillors and the new MP and AM are now claiming credit for, published a few weeks back its Area Destination Plan for 2016 – 2018.


With its main focus on outdoor activities and leisure it could belong to any rural or semi-rural local authority, and don’t get me wrong, BikePark Wales, Dolygaer Outdoor Activity Centre and Cyfarthfa Castle Park and Museum are great attractions, but when Merthyr Tydfil has so much political, industrial, social and cultural history failing to acknowledge the majority of it makes a mockery of any tourism plan.

There is a nod to Merthyr’s epoch-defining industrial past in the plan with a commitment to looking to rebuild a life size replica of Richard Trevithick’s steam locomotive engine, the first in the UK, but that’s reliant on the local heritage society raising enough money to get it built. Perhaps Labour Councillors aren’t willing to celebrate innovation, engineering excellence and vision for fear of showing local people there’s more to life than mediocrity, dependency and poverty that hallmark ‘Welsh’ Labour at all levels of government.

The Plan also talks of Welsh language provision via the Welsh language centre Canolfan Soar but again if you look closer the centre is facing its own financial difficulties as a result of funding cuts with its Welsh shop closing earlier this year. And as this is the Valleys, hostility to the Welsh language spending is never far away, as demonstrated by Labour and the opposition Independents in the full Council meeting earlier this month.

Another area mentioned is the lack of indoor activities in a town where rain is more often the order of the day than sunshine. So a lack of museums, interactive galleries and the like does seem particularly stupid to me.

Although to be fair the Plan does have an excellent SWOT analysis, but the action plan doesn’t include solutions for central recommendations like the lack of a Tourist Information Office and large scale accommodation. Even if we suspend belief and buy into the tourism lite guff they’re peddling, how can you be a serious tourist destination without enough beds or a central tourist information office?

The irony of course is that loads of places would love to have even half the history Merthyr Tydfil has and it could be that if tourism was done properly then the Borough would have year-round tourism selling Merthyr to the world. It could be integrated into local education, provide better job and career opportunities and re-instill some pride back in the place for those who were born here or made the place their home.

Welsh History started with Labour

However, we shouldn’t be surprised, this is the Labour Party after all, which believes Welsh history started with the birth of their party or the election of James Kier Hardie in 1900 . . . even though he is hardly celebrated anywhere in the town.

As if to reinforce this, Neil Kinnock’s ‘Welsh history’ quote did the rounds on social media last week, the quote reads, ‘Between the mid sixteenth and mid eighteenth centuries Wales had practically no history at all, and even before that it was a history of rural brigands who have been ennobled and called princes.’

The local Labour Party does hold a Kier Hardie lecture that’s only open to party members, and speakers also have to be Labour members or Labour affiliated, and no press is allowed. Held now in secret because last year there was great embarrassment when the keynote speaker was First Minster Carwyn Jones, and the local party was reduced to giving tickets away and begging people to go.

What a difference it would make if the party opened it up to everyone, picked radical topics and speakers, had a question and answer session with a panel afterwards, possibly publish a paper on the topic and made it into a real community event. I doubt it would happen, but it’s one of many ideas to celebrate the town’s history and create an event for all.


Even the raising of the red flag and the Merthyr Rising festival that celebrates it is shunned by the local council, though UNISON stepped in to save the festival this year thanks to the new Labour AM Dawn Bowden who used to be a UNISON big wig and whom Jac has helpfully written about. Time will tell if the festival becomes a Labour sop which would be a shame as the festival organisers are about as far away from the ignorant, conservative Labour Council leadership values as it’s possible to be.

Labour leadership & Red flag

Speaking of the red flag and going slightly off course, the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn came to Merthyr Tydfil on 5th August as part of his leadership campaign and unsurprisingly found no support from the local Labour leadership who were all supporting Owen Smith.

Council Leader Brendan Toomey, Gerald Jones MP and Dawn Bowden AM (who was on holidays), took to Twitter to vent their anger about the rally saying he didn’t represent the party or local people etc., but Jeremy Corbyn had the last laugh, not only did he draw a sizeable crowd, but his use of the red flag brought the history of the town to a UK wide audience and got the town and red flag trending on social media for positive reasons.


It’s easy to see how the Merthyr & Rhymney Labour leadership were so annoyed, Jeremy Corbyn’s two hours in Merthyr did more to promote the town’s radical history than Council leader Brendan Twomey and his Cabinet have managed in four years.

Speaking of our elected representatives, on Twitter, Dawn Bowden, Bristol City fan living in Llantrisant, posted a picture of the overgrown blast furnaces in Merthyr Tydfil saying ‘what an incredible history this wonderful town has’. It seems the new AM is fitting right in with the dinosaur tendency that believe Welsh history began with industrialisation.

Weight of History and Remembering

I’ve written a fair bit and barely scratched the surface of the borough’s history or introduced the one person who belongs solely to the town yet rarely gets mentioned, despite the place being named after her, St Tydfil/Tudful, the princess and daughter of King Brychan who was martyred in the fifth century by raiding Picts.

She’s remembered with a Church in Wales church named after her, as is the local shopping centre, while Merthyr Tydfil Football Club’s nickname is the Martyrs. Yet outside of the church there is no acknowledgement of her, indeed admitting that Tydfil lived and died and was renowned for good deeds and values such as compassion to all, would mean Welsh history didn’t start with the Industrial Revolution or the Labour Party after all. But I suspect it’s also because she’s a woman and a victim of Labour’s patriarchal and misogynist attitudes, especially in the Valleys.


Of course Labour blames its wider lack of action on austerity, ‘We would love to do things’, they sigh, ‘but we’ve got no money’, when opposition councillors ask why aren’t things done. But what about things that don’t cost and could raise awareness of local history, like using the flag poles outside the Council office on St David’s Day or flying the Red Flag in May or Owain Glyndŵr’s banner in September? And I’m sure there are other little things that could be done, but I suspect it’s all a leap too far for closed, anti-Welsh minds.

I could write more on all that’s happened and why it should be celebrated; there’s Lucy Thomas, called the mother of Welsh steam coal trade, a widow who was the first person to export stream coal and give birth to coal exports. Away from industry, Merthyr was also the birthplace of designers Laura Ashley and Julian McDonald; and then there’s Charlotte Guest, wife of iron-master John Guest, who arranged for the Mabinogion to be translated into English. (Also, Dr Joseph Parry, who wrote the music for that all-time favourite, Myfanwy. Jac.)

To bring us up to date, a recent archaeological study found evidence of Roman activity in the borough, and Merthyr-born Samuel Griffiths, whose family emigrated to Australia, was responsible for writing Australia’s constitution, a fact recently in the news as the current Australian Chief Justice visited the town and called for closer cooperation – will Merthyr’s Labour leaders take him up on the offer?


Sometimes the sheer weight of remembering everyone and everything that’s happened can feel overwhelming, but it’s important because it tells us who we are and where we’ve come from.

I’ll end by pointing out that the lack of imagination coupled with an ingrained indifference or hostility towards Welsh history before the Labour Party, or industrialisation, means that even in Merthyr Tydfil, which gave birth to the modern Labour Party, we get the Area Destination Plan pushing Welsh history and heritage to the margins instead of using it front and centre. Most places in the world would kill for the history we have yet the Council focus is on weather dependent tourism in the rainy Valleys.

Of course, if there was a decent opposition here it could challenge the status quo. Which is why we should be grateful for the work of genuinely local history societies and historians, doing what they can to counter the hostility and apathy found all over Wales, attitudes that contribute to the slow death of our nation.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ END ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Jac says . . . I’ve always had a soft spot for Merthyr, going back to those happy hours spent at the Lamb Inn, in the days of its irreplaceable mine host, the late John Lewis. This magnificent pub, almost unchanged since the days when Dic Penderyn was said to have drunk there, was demolished in the early 1970s to ‘make way’ for something that was never built.

The truth was that the Labour council didn’t like the Lamb’s clientèle. As our guest writer informs us, nothing has changed when it comes to the Labour Party in Merthyr and its attitudes to expressions of Welshness.

One of the best LPs ever produced in Wales (click to enlarge)

Moving away from delicate concerns of identity and loyalties, our guest writer offered some hope for the area by mentioning BikePark Wales and Dolygaer Outdoor Activity Centre; and so, you know me, I just had to learn more. I’m afraid what I learnt is not encouraging.

BikePark Wales is the trading name for something called Beic Parcio Cymru Ltd. (Yes, honestly!) So while everyone knows it as BikePark Wales it’s official name is something else, perhaps done to make it difficult to get information on the company. (I’ve encountered the practice before.) To help you follow this, here’s the link to the Companies House website.

BikePark Wales looks like one of those outfits so common – perhaps unique – to Wales, a publicly-funded private company, for the website (designed by a company in Cornwall) carries the logos of Visit Wales, the ‘Welsh’ Government and the European Regional Development Fund. I suspect the directors are not local . . . certainly not the New Zealander.

In financial terms the company seems to be in good health, with net assets of £674,963 (y/e 31.03.2015). Though there are three outstanding charges registered with ‘The Welsh Ministers’, and a debenture held by Ian Campbell Officer (the New Zealander director).

A founding director of BikePark Wales is Martin Astley. But his Linkedin profile would suggest that his day job may be Marketing Manager for Saddleback Ltd, a Bristol company selling mountain bikes and associated ephemera. In fact, BikePark Wales serves as a useful retail outlet for Saddleback’s wares. Just think about that, here we have a venture funded with Welsh public money giving an English company an advantage over Welsh retailers. Now that’s colonialism for you!


The other directors are the aforementioned Kiwi, Astley’s wife Anna, and another husband and wife team, Rowan John Sorrell and Elizabeth Sorrell, also founding directors. In addition, the Sorrells have their own company over in Pontypool, Back-on-Track Mountain Bike Solutions Ltd which designs and builds mountain bike tracks. So I wonder who designed and built BikePark Wales’ tracks around Merthyr?

The other location mentioned by our guest writer was the Dolygaer Outdoor Activity Centre. All that needs to be said is that Dolygaer is owned by English company Parkwood.

If you go down in the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise . . . not because you’ll meet a teddy bear but because there’s a good chance you’ll get knocked down by a mountain biker taking advantage of Playground Wales. Or maybe you’ll be stopped from going any further by a gang of hippies opposed to capitalism and private property . . . unless it’s theirs. And all because as a matter of ‘Welsh’ Government policy our woodlands are being surrendered to enviroshysters and ‘the leisure industry’.

Now I could put up with restricted access if our woods and forests were productive, providing the thousands of local jobs of which they’re capable. But no, Natural Resources Wales sees our woodlands as areas of recreation, and itself as an extension of the tourism industry. And through the Welsh public purse we pay for it all!

There is probably no country on earth where so much public money is spent with so few benefits for the indigenous population. But as I say, that’s how colonialism operates.

44 thoughts on “Merthyr Tydfil’s Tourism Delights and Labour Amnesia

  1. Kevin Mahoney

    I’d imagine that your highly trained team of lawyers are more gainfully employed helping you with your previous articles in regards to the housing association stuff that you have previously commented on.

    I’m referring to your previous repeated strident assertions that you knew for a fact that I couldn’t possibly support Swansea City when I helpfully pointed out a possible alternative suggestion for a union jack being displayed at the Liberty stadium. If you remember you were quite insistent, despite the fact that my name is contained within several years published minutes as being on the board of the Swansea City Supporters Trust of which I helped out on for some time

    On this occasion I am just helpfully correcting a minor inadvertent mistake made by your guest correspondent with the additional comment that I regret the dropping of the Tydfil part of the club name.

    I’d save your lawyers fees for more important things if I were you.

    1. I remember you now! But you’re still wrong about who’s responsible for that union flag.

      On the subject of housing associations, stay tuned because I’m working on a very complicated but possibly very important piece on housing associations and leasehold landlords, the buy-to-let racket with offshore companies thrown in. You’ll enjoy it.

  2. Kevin Mahoney

    Merthyr’s football team has actually been called called Merthyr Town FC since 2010 and to my regret have dropped the Tydfil part of the name after getting into financial difficulties yet again.

    And before you start again with questioning my knowledge or history of Welsh football support which you of course got hopelessly wrong last time, I support all Welsh football including a small sponsorship of Merthyr last season as well as helping to swell the attendance figures at Barry Newport, Cardiff, Swansea and Merthyr whenever possible.

    1. What do you mean by something I “got hopelessly wrong last time”? Be very careful with your response, for my team of highly trained lawyers will be reading what you have to say.

  3. Guest Writer

    Talking of welsh history Dr Elin Jones was calling for more Welsh history to be taught in schools on BBC Wales Sunday supplement this morning, unsurprisingly Labour politicians have been railing against this. With the new Labour AM for Cynon Valley Vikki Howells, tweeting that she was a teacher for 16 years and that welsh history is embedded in the curriculum. I didn’t learn much welsh history beyond the Chartists and the Rebecca riots class, hardly full Welsh history.

    It was also liked by Merthyr & Rhymney AM Dawn Bowden – what does Dawn know of welsh history teaching about the same as she knows about Merthyr’s history, nothing.

    This was Dr Elin’s call from last year

  4. YBarddCwsc

    Happy to see Welsh Labour lambasted.

    “Although to be fair the Plan does have an excellent SWOT analysis, but the action plan doesn’t include solutions for central recommendations like the lack of a Tourist Information Office and large scale accommodation.”

    Plaid Cymru run Gwynedd council have just shut the Tourist Information Centre in Dolgellau. The people who worked there were incredibly knowledgable about the area, for example, they helped me visit Yr Ysgwrn a few years ago. They have all been sacked. Not just the loss of the Centre is to be mourned, but the loss of interesting and valuable jobs for young people.

    The terrible, terrible shame is that — although I expect the Welsh Labour run Councils to be incompetent and stupid and corrupt — the remaining councils in Wales are not much very much better.

    1. Guest Writer

      take the point, but at least Dolgellau had a Tourist Information Office that is now sadly closed, was it down to austerity and cuts or something else?

      Merthyr has never had one and as i said even if your going to be a Leisure tourism destination you surely need a Tourist Info Office to point out good local places to eat, places to visit etc.

      1. dafis

        Come off it , Jac, he fits the template spot on. He will be totally at home with the metropolitan elitist pond life that “make things happen” in the demi monde of not for profit, third sector where “gain” is measured in terms of ambiguous goals but real gain is how much these cnuts can trouser without us, the gullible uncaring public, realising how good life is in the twilight zone.

  5. dafis

    your tweet column served to jog my memory – last night watching the welsh news about 10.30 p.m I saw the item about Carwyn’s Brexit committee (or panel or whatever name you give a totally useless gathering of hot air merchants and numbskulls ). There was old ARTD huffin’ and puffin’ about the lack of balance, and I’m thinking “well it doesn’t matter cos these fuckers will have no say in the process anyway, just make sure you don’t pay them much” … when suddenly up pops wrinkly Lord Kinnock like a defective reject off Punch & Judy. Carwyn must be clean out of his trolley picking that muppet for any team, but it does confirm that this cluster ( committee or whatever ) will be paid serious money because as we all know Lord K won’t get involved unless there’s stacks of loot to be diverted into his trolley.
    Then to cap it all Carwyn selects Alun Davies to go sit on the Labour NEC – is this a calculated insult to Brit Labour or more evidence that C.J’s critical faculties are seriously malfunctioning with multiple short circuits ?

    1. Big Gee

      What a bunch of wretched, piteous, lamentable, woeful & deplorable bunch of dedicated self abusers.

      Led by a dud who seems to be in a hallucinatory world of his own. It’s an over used word, but is well suited to this scenario PATHETIC!

  6. Myfanwy

    It was pure injustice of the most evil kind, that was meted out to Dic Penderyn and it is exactly the Welsh history that needs to be taught at school and remembered. Destroying the Lamb Inn, for no particular purpose, can only be seen as a further, invidious act, to erase the memory of those, like Penderyn and the potential threat, their legacy might pose.

    1. Big Gee

      I couldn’t agree more with you Myfanwy. The genocide of our unique existence is being airbrushed away in front of our eyes.

      It HAS to be stopped. Forget trying to save the language – that will eventually look after itself. Welsh language initiatives are a Band Aid on a haemorrhage. The real killer of our nation, including our language, is our education system, which is destroying our knowledge of ourselves.

      1. Anonymous

        I’ll split hairs with you on that one.
        “why do I have to learn this language ? ” – “Because you are different”.
        “How am I different ? ” – ” These lessons in the history of Cymru and its people will show you that you are different ”

        That dialogue may be over simplified but illustrates that teaching the language and our history should be complimentary. Also Welsh is just as viable a medium for the acquisition of knowledge in fields such as Maths, Physics and Chemistry, Geography, Crafts such as Woodwork, Metalwork, any Workshop based discipline, Cerdd, and other creative arts. All that’s missing is the urge to do it, to differentiate ( not discriminate) and see the value.

        1. dafis

          just noticed that for some obscure reason yet to be figured out I was on here as Anonymous earlier. For AVOIDANCE OF DOUBT it was me, fi, same old dafis, though some might wish that I’d morphed into something else !

          1. Big Gee

            Sorry Dafis – if I’d known it was you and not another mysterious ‘Anonymous’ then I would not have been quite so patronising in my response. However I won’t delete it, it may prove useful to some other ‘Anonymous’ that breezes by!

        2. Big Gee

          I’m not sure what you’re ‘splitting hairs about’ (in your words). Perhaps you’ve misunderstood my comment ‘Anonymous’.

          Teaching our language in a vacuum is a fatuous exercise. As I’ve said SO many times before, you can teach an average parrot to speak a language but the parrot has no idea of why and for what purpose he’s being taught the words – it’s an empty gesture. And if your parrot is intelligent enough, he may even come to the wrong conclusion – as many who experience the exercise of learning a language that they don’t understand a need for come to – that it has something to do with discrimination or nationalist extremism. That’s why I said it’s like applying a Band Aid to a haemorrhage.

          The root cause of the problem is purposely induced ignorance through the education system that we’ve had implemented in Cymru since the first (English imperialist bourne) Compulsory Education Act in the late eighteen hundreds. Teach our children about their unique history, the reason why things are the way they are in their country, along with knowledge of their culture and their heritage, then the learning of the unique language that goes along with that knowledge is automatically accepted and very much desired and appreciated.

          So in conclusion, OF COURSE IT’S IMPORTANT TO TEACH THE LANGUAGE AND HISTORY IN A COMPLIMENTARY WAY. No one suggested otherwise – least of all me.

          Read THIS ESSAY if you want to know more about my views on the subject. I think you’ll find you’ve grasped the wrong end of the stick.

          1. dafis

            my fault coming on here with my identity in a scramble ! I read your essay some time last year and believe that I complimented you at the time, although given that I may have been using another identity at that time I think it’s just as well that I say once again – “rhagorol !” – as my old master never said to me.

            Anyway back to where we were. Learning the language and using it as a medium for learning other disciplines is the obvious way to embed it thoroughly in the pupil’s brain. Even thick kids ( and they do exist ) will absorb the language if they see purpose. Jeremy bach may not be too keen on History and Geography regardless of the chosen language for teaching but he may be thoroughly engrossed in Maths and Physics and would find learning enjoyable in any language. This in turn leads to a confident use of the language in the pupil’s everyday life. Thus the stock default position that our language “confuses” pupils is a load of prejudiced bollocks straight out of the Anglo Brit supremacist cook book and should be vigorously rejected by our Cynulliad. However they do not wish to be associated with anything that might upset their status quo, that situation that they choose to impose upon themselves.

  7. dafis

    just noticed your tweet about Investment Bank . You can forget “full time well paid jobs for local people” and substitute something like ” generous sinecures for friends of the party, City rejects and other pliable well dressed institutional types who like getting paid well for covering someone else’s arse ” Love to be proved wrong on this one.

    1. It’s interesting that in the recently announced spending plans Carwyn and his gang announced that they want to push ahead with both the Cardiff Metro and the M4 upgrade. If they’re serious then they’ll have to cut back somewhere else, and one obvious area is the Third Sector. Which means that you might be right about the Investment Bank. Though I’d guess there’ll be more openness and scrutiny around such an institution.

      1. dafis

        I can understand and tolerate you using words like “openness” and “scrutiny” but if they appear in any document or announcement from Y Cynulliad or similar public sector agency there is an immediate increase in my suspicion levels. These muppets have been trotting out bland jargon laden bullshit for so long they have forgotten the real meaning of the words used in their declarations.

  8. dafis

    Some old tart from London is apparently bitching her head off on S4C tonight cos Ceredigion have the temerity to charge her a few quid extra for having a 2nd home in the county. Silly cow was probably expecting a grant not a bill. Anyway she’s bloody lucky that some residual Meibion haven’t turned up and given her an ultra warm greeting.

    1. It seems she’s Jewish, and is introducing anti-Semitism into the debate! I’d love to know how S4C or the programme maker found her.

    2. Big Gee

      Don’t be too hard on her Dafis, she’s probably very upset about the deteriorating health of the Polish Jew Szymon Perski (Shimon Peres). The dove of peace (not) who is at death’s door apparently.

      This is the guy who was Director-General of the Ministry of Defence in 1954, was an avid supporter of West Bank settlements in the 70s, planned the Israeli nuclear armaments project (the Dimona project which they still deny the existence of) and THEN snapped up the Nobel peace prize in 1994!

      I really hope he rests in peace very soon. Yep good at what they do the Zionists – including colonisation. When it gets a bit hot or awkward they start squawking. S4C’s lady friend is probably a classic example.

  9. Anonymous

    Some of the activities at Cyfarthfa Park using public/EU/Welsh Government money seem suspicious to say the least, a second visitor centre and shop/cafe built no more than a few hundred yards from one opened just a few years back. The “renovation” of the old ice house, basically a brick lined hole in the ground of no use or interest to anyone (kept some contractor in work for a few months though) and this recent “Roman activity evidence” in fact no evidence of anything at all but conveniently located on an unused piece of flat ground in the park, cue funding for a “Roman Visitor Centre” (and shop/cafe of course). Lots of potential and funding available for this great park but spend by the useless usual suspects of the council and their associates.

  10. Merthyrboyo the third

    From my earliest memories I was told the unofficial mantra of Merthyr Council was “A pile of rubble is no trouble.”
    A long history of trying to mask the past of the town. Almost ashamed of the town they actually represent.

  11. dafis

    Labour’s fantasy conference trotting out some serious gems today.

    The level of spend they propose to “protect” so called “disadvantaged” areas from post Brexit and long term austerity shock waves is mind boggling. Now I don’t have any objection to some serious reconstructive investment into Wales and the less prosperous areas of England but the grand design floated out there today suggests that the dependency culture will become so deeply embedded that we’ll all be sucking on one big tit by 2022 ! These guys don’t seem able to develop a concept of socialism that sheds the nanny, interventionist bias that fosters a will at individual and collective level to shed the chains of dependency and protect only the very needy.

    For instance in a classic echo of the worst of the Blairite years McDonnell announces the aim of a £10.00 per hour minimum wage, then goes on to indicate that “some employers” would get a subsidy so they could afford it ! Well when that arrives you can bet your shirt that all the corporates will be round there with their grant/subsidy begging faces on and Labour will just go with the flow. Thus we’ll be back in the same old round of subsidising big business’ wage bills, while their chief execs trouser 7 figure pay packets. By piling in more immigrants indiscriminately they will create more Labour support because these new comers will thank brother Corbyn & Co for getting them jobs with all that lovely money paid. Following on, the housing and social benefits regime will go nuts in urban hot spots in England ( and perhaps Cardiff, Newport, & Swansea) and we’ll cop another round of white flight from those places to dilute what remains of native culture in small town and rural Wales. And Carwyn won’t say a word cos it’s all written by his party.

    Is this doomsday scenario daft enough to ensure that voters will not allow these nutters anywhere near the levers of power ? or are there still people within the Labour party ( in England ?) with sufficient backbone to derail the entire project ? More pertinently will there ever be enough people in Wales to withstand another round of corrosive policy and its human collateral ?

    1. You have to put this in the context of Brexit and UKIP. Corbyn and McDonnell are appealing to those voters in the south Wales Valleys, the (former) Yorkshire coalfield, countless towns and cities like Hull and Wolverhampton, and whole swathes of rural England, that voted UKIP in 2015 and Leave in 2016. The people who feel left behind economically and are disgruntled with metropolitan elites.

      But this appeal is unlikely to work even with £10 an hour because the issue is immigration, and if Corbyn ever gets into power then he will do nothing to curb immigration and the £10 minimum wage – plus the other benefits he’s bound to introduce – will only encourage further immigration.

      There is a neglected section of the white population (in Wales as well as England) just waiting for the right demagogue to come along. The anger from this section of the population could have been channelled differently if Wales had a nationalist party. But Plaid Cymru at the moment has more in common with Corbyn than with ‘Welsh’ Labour.

      So if Corbyn can sort out ‘Welsh’ Labour, use Momentum to get rid of most of the MPs (helped by reorganisation), and perhaps some AMs, then Plaid Cymru is in trouble. A left wing nationalist party that alienates nationalists and loses its socialist support is truly fucked.

      1. dafis

        that’s the point I guess I was aiming at in my last rhetorical question above. I suspect however that this raft of policies will never see a day of implementation as the migrant question will be a huge factor in Labour’s long term exclusion from power, and its possible displacement as a voice of the people by a ranter-led populist party, either UKIP or some further morphed version. That in turn will lead to more of those Anglo Brit extremists turning up on our paddocks and quite frankly there’s too many of them here already.
        I saw a story last week about some Iraqi who came here a few years ago, settled, got a working knowledge of the language and is earning his corn doing a job in his community. Seriously uplifting stuff, until I read the crap coming in from readers deriding his efforts. This was in the so-called Welsh media and we had natives in complete denial of their identity belittling the Iraqi and our language. No wonder these Anglos feel so much at home and at ease when they roll in expecting business as usual, with plenty of Uncle Dai’s ready to reinforce their supremacist view of life.

          1. dafis

            you are correct. However it illustrated the more relevant point that if a willing lad from a far country, moved here in distressed circumstances, is able to absorb 2 languages then our lazy monoglot natives ( we just as Welsh as yew, see ) and our near neighbours ( crazed with supremacist xenophobia ) should be able to do so as well. Not asking much.

  12. dafis

    BikePark Wales = Beic Parcio Cymru ? Woops ! now either the clever people at BPW were using Google to translate on the cheap ( like many public bodies appear to do in Wales ) or their professional translation contractor was having a laugh like you might be tempted to do on 1st April. Either way a shocking waste of a few quid of public funds before any of the real financial frivolity got under way.

    1. As a cyclist I think it´s vitally important that suitable provision is made for the parking of bikes. Clearly this is one area where Wales leads the field 😉

  13. sibrydionmawr

    The Labour rulers in Methyr have always been decidedly cack-handed when it comes to heritage and what to do with it. In the case of Methyr under Labour the response has typically been, in times past, to resort to the bulldozer, which is what happened with the Cyfarthfa stables, and also with the houses that made up the Triangle, which were, believe it or not, actually protected by of Listed status when they were unceremoniously bulldozed in the 1970s. Much else of Merthyr’s industrial heritage has likewise been lost, and in more recent years there have been various attempts to hang on to what little remains of Methyr’s important past.

    The Guest writer makes a bit of a wild claim when they say that the replica of Trevithick’s locomotive will be the first in the UK, as there are at least two others. One is owned by our National Museum, you can find out more here:

    Also, The Ironbridge Gorge Museum has a replica of this locomotive, see more about that here:

    The Guest writer makes a good point about Welsh history, but the point is that many would argue, including me, that it is the history of the past 300 or so years that are most crucial to the Wales of today, and that the earlier history, though important and sometimes interesting, is really just necessary background, though I know the many medievalists out there will disagree!

    Modern Wales owes its very existence to industrialisation, it was the main factor that Wales, as a concept, has survived, and indeed, has become politically conscious. If it hadn’t been for industrialisation, there would have been massive emigration, as there would have been no way that the massive increase in population in Wales could have been sustained without industrialisation to provide jobs. The history of Merthyr itself is directly affected by industrialisation, as it didn’t exist in it’s present urban form until created by the merging of industrial settlements into on conurbation during the late 18th Century and early 19th. It’s also important to realise that until comparatively late in the 19th Century that the demand for labour within Welsh industry was satisfied largely from within Wales, and that it was only the huge demand for labour post 1860 when coal started to be seriously exploited in Wales that large scale immigration from England and elsewhere, (Scotland in the case of that intellectual giant Kinnock!) started to have an impact, (amongst other important factors) on the language and culture.

    It’s the scandalous lack of access to our own history that allows local authorities to get away with their slipshod approach to our heritage and it’s management/interpretation. One only has to recall the way that Newport Council allowed the destruction of the Chartist mosaic wall rather than insisting that the developer of the new retail area relocate it somewhere else. There is precious little reference to Newport and it’s importance in the rising of 1839, indeed, the Chartist Rising of 1839 is not given anything like the prominence I believe it should have in the history of our country, likewise the Merthyr Rising of 1831. If the history of Wales were better known, we would not be facing such situations, as people would protest if that history were to be threatened or obliterated. However, there is a dilemma in this.The realisation that for much of the industrial period in Wales, the industrial areas were not fortresses of English imperialism, but strongholds of the Welsh language and culture – indeed, Merthyr was the closest Wales had to a capital city in the 1850s, and it was certainly the publishing capital of Wales in both Welsh and English. How many also realise that in both the risings of 1831 (Merthyr) and 1839 (Newport) most of the participants would have been Welsh speaking and largely monoglot Welsh at that?

    1. You raise important points.

      I agree that the Wales we live in, north and south, was largely shaped by 19th century industry. I was born and raised in Swansea and now live in a village that wouldn’t exist had it not been for the local slate quarry.

      But as you point out, this provides problems for Labour. First, there’s the issue of the language, and then the political outlook of the Chartists and those who rose in Merthyr in 1831. For example, it’s often overlooked that those who marched on Newport were also calling for a Silurian Republic, which suggests they were not necessarily the loyalist-royalist-unionists ‘Welsh’ Labour wants us to believe. Or maybe it’s knowing this that explains Labour’s wish to forget or misinterpret these episodes.

      But the other problem, highlighted by the writer, is that in addition to corrupting or ignoring events from a couple of centuries ago, Labour goes further, in trying to dismiss everything that happened before the Industrial Revolution.

      Which means that left to ‘Welsh’ Labour, Welsh history begins at some point in the mid-nineteenth century, with an anglophone working class, loyal to Victoria, in a geographic area called Wales, seeking only to better its lot within the wonderful United Kingdom. Which is, essentially, washing Welshness out of our history.

      When you think about it, this is little more than the local variant of the English or British interpretation of the history of the whole island. First, there were woad-daubed savages of whom we know little and on whom we should not waste our time. Then came the civilising Romans. Roman Britain then transmuted overnight into Anglo-Saxon England.

    2. Guest Writer

      Thanks for an interesting reply, you make valid points about Industrialisation particularly the language and culture aspects, im sure the Council’s aversion to supporting Merthyr Rising festival is knowing the men and women made their demands in welsh.

      Quick point on the stream engine, I didn’t mean the first replica I know there’s one in Swansea, I meant it as in the first steam engine in the UK, built long before George’s Stephenson rocket that fits the British version of history.

      And although medieval history isn’t everyone cup of tea I would still like to see Tydfil acknowledged/celebrated more, she belongs to the town and offers another USP.

      Well done Jac for digging into Bike Park Wales and Dolygaer Centre backgrounds, more colonial tourism with money leaving the area, while providing minimum wage jobs for locals.

      1. I’d be interested to know how many locals are actually employed at BikePark Wales/Parc Beicio Cymru and Dolygaer.

        1. Guest Writer

          Good question, I’ve seen admin, café and retail jobs for Dolygaer advertised locally, not sure about the instructors or management I doubt it, some might be Welsh, but probably not Merthyr people and I’ve no idea about the Bike Park sorry, I don’t remember anything being advertised locally, but that could be because its not of much interest to me.

          It needs looking into certainly, now wheres the opposition.

  14. Wynne

    In your supplementary note Jac you say “There is probably no country on earth where so much public money is spent with so few benefits for the indigenous population.” I totally agree. When public funds are used a Benefit v Cost appraisal should be undertaken. Treasury requirements. When I previously asked the Wales Audit Office how this was undertaken in Wales my attention was drawn to the “Five Case Business Model” used by Welsh Government based on the core principles in Treasury Green Book. Whenever I ask Welsh Government for a copy of their Benefit v Cost appraisal I usually receive a “closing down letter” i.e. the shutters go up when awkward questions are asked.

    1. It shouldn’t even need to be enshrined in legislation. It’s human nature to use one’s money to benefit oneself and one’s family. Of course, it’s commendable to give some money to strangers for good causes, but this only accounts for a small percentage of any family’s expenditure.

      Which is why the situation in Wales is so bizarre. Because in any other country no project would attract large amounts of public funding unless there were clear and obvious benefits for the people of that country.

      What’s happened is that Wales and the Welsh people have become disconnected in the eyes of politicians, planners and funders. With the result that large sums can be allocated to projects that it can be argued are ‘good for Wales’ while providing no benefits for Welsh people. Worse, they may even damage the interests of local people and their communities.

      An analogy I used a while back was that of telling the Plains Indians in the 1880s that prosperity had been brought to the region and they should be grateful for it. The fact that their way of life had suffered was their own fault because they had failed to seize the opportunities being presented the White Man.

  15. Dic

    Thank you for a very interesting and thoughtful piece. Canolfan Soar is one of a series of centres set up by Carwyn & Co. What they did was take a chunk of the budget from Welsh for Adults and put it into a capital fund. The centres can only be run by universities and higher education bodies, the thinking being, presumably, that there would be something to fall back on when the initial grants ran out.

    The jury is out on these centres. One view is that they risk ghetto-ising the language, especially in areas where Welsh is widely spoken. What is certainly true is that some are more lively and well-run than others. Yr Atom in Carmarthen is well worth a visit if you are in town – a good cafe, clean, bright and lots of stuff going on. Others seem destined to disappear before anyone noticed they were there.

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