The unbearable sadness…

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  • The unbearable sadness…
  • edlong
    Member

    During the recent anniversary of the miners strike lots of former miners were on the local news bemoaning the fact that no new jobs had been moved to the area. It never seemed to have been an option for them to have been proactive in moving to where the work was in the intervening 30 years

    Okay, you’re a fifty five year old ex-miner. The only thing you have ever done for a living is mine coal. You have no qualifications in anything other than hacking coal out of the ground, and no money.

    What work are you going to move somewhere to do?

    How are you going to move there to do it?

    To be honest, I don’t have a problem with benefit dependent ex-miners. History has dealt them a crap hand and there’s not a whole lot can be done about it. Sure, send them all on basic IT skills courses down the “JobClub” and show them how to write a CV, but the reality is many of these guys will not work again. Let the state pay them a pittance, they earned it and they’d still be earning it now if the pits hadn’t closed.

    The benefit dependency that is, I think, delaying the inevitable is among those who grow up in a culture of worklessness and expect to enter that stream themselves. The cliched teenage girl who’s life plan extends to getting pregnant so she can get social housing and benefits. The spurious sick who not only take the piss but lead to the demonisation of the many who are genuinely dependent on sickness related benefits because they are genuinely sick. We have created cultures in pockets of urban Britain where a workless life, dependent and expecting state handouts is not only acceptable, but is the norm.

    Premier Icon chakaping
    Subscriber

    Perhaps if we forcibly relocate anyone who lives in Dalston and has an Instagram account to the Valleys?

    On second thoughts, we don’t want to make things even worse for the locals.

    Premier Icon binners
    Subscriber

    There never has been a managed decline in history. Boom and bust is the norm.

    There has. Thatcher did it with Liverpool. Which is why every town and city in the world is now full of exiled scousers banging on an on and on and on about the Pool being the greatest place in the weeeeeeerld 😉

    wrecker
    Member

    Trying to put myself in their position, if I suddenly couldn’t work where I live for whatever reason, I’d move. I’d need to provide food, shelter and hopefully a decent life for my family and the best chance possible for the kid(s).
    I’m sure I’d miss my wider family and friends but needs must. Looking after the nearest and dearest is number 1 priority. I’m not being preachy or critical of the people mentioned, just thinking aloud. Slow work day.

    As for what to do about the current situation in the valleys, haven’t a clue. Sorry.

    Premier Icon martinhutch
    Subscriber

    The words ‘Thatcher’, ‘Managed decline’ and ‘Liverpool’ combined in one concept. The internet equivalent of daring to disagree with Charles Saatchi…

    Premier Icon nickc
    Subscriber

    Capitalism innit.

    Stopped off once to chat to the folk at the Burberry factory when they had their strike. Plant was employing locals, AND making money, but owners of Burberry realised that they could make MORE money making stuff in Malaysia…People thrown on the scrap heap for the difference of a couple of zeros on a balance sheet.

    Premier Icon epicyclo
    Subscriber

    We have legislated our industries to death.

    Take environmental and health rules for industry. Basically a good idea, nothing wrong with stopping them pooping in our nest or working people to death.

    But, this increases costs so now a product from a 3rd world country becomes much cheaper and our local industry with its higher overhead cannot compete.

    All that needs to be done is to impose a tariff on goods imported from countries with poor environmental and health conditions so that pricing advantage is removed and we have a level playing field.

    Of course this is ideologically unsound and against free trade, so our jobs and industries continue to disappear until we also become a 3rd world country.

    Our political parties work for the interests of their major donors, not the electorate.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    All that needs to be done is to impose a tariff on goods imported from countries with poor environmental and health conditions so that pricing advantage is removed and we have a level playing field.

    .. and push inflation through the roof at the same time?

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Subscriber

    Take environmental and health rules for industry. Basically a good idea, nothing wrong with stopping them pooping in our nest or working people to death.

    But, this increases costs so now a product from a 3rd world country becomes much cheaper and our local industry with its higher overhead cannot compete.

    Nothing to do with lower labour costs then…..

    yossarian
    Member

    Moving across the country when you’re broke and your family’s broke isn’t particularly easy

    and why should they move? we all pay into the same pot and we all take out of it. This is an emotional response I know but I think we owe to the region and to the people there to create a sustainable economy. Yes it will cost a fortune but thats mainly because it requires the complete rebuilding of a shattered economy, this should have happenes a decade or more ago. Start with schools and low level community projects, then move on to subsidising businesses and external investments. If you create a region with good or outstanding schools combined with affordable housing and falling crime rates and funded opportunities for small businesses the rest will follow.

    Yes an emotional response but we ‘are’ talking about people and their lives. They deserve the same opportunity as everyone else on this island.

    Trying to put myself in their position, if I suddenly couldn’t work where I live for whatever reason, I’d move. I’d need to provide food, shelter and hopefully a decent life for my family and the best chance possible for the kid(s).

    Therin lies the problem, you’ve inadvertently deamonised them as somehow different to you. Hypothetialy if I were a miner, I’m sure I’d move too, if I wasn’t living in a house in a village with no imigration and work prospects and therefore no value, who’s going to buy it to fund the deposit on my new house? And once I’m in the land of milk and honey/south east, what am I going to do with my GNVQ (or whatever) in Mining Coal?

    We have legislated our industries to death.

    Take environmental and health rules for industry. Basically a good idea, nothing wrong with stopping them pooping in our nest or working people to death.

    But, this increases costs so now a product from a 3rd world country becomes much cheaper and our local industry with its higher overhead cannot compete.

    All that needs to be done is to impose a tariff on goods imported from countries with poor environmental and health conditions so that pricing advantage is removed and we have a level playing field.

    Of course this is ideologically unsound and against free trade, so our jobs and industries continue to disappear until we also become a 3rd world country.

    Our political parties work for the interests of their major donors, not the electorate.

    Who are these ‘interests’, presumably no industries as you’ve just said they’re working against them?

    edlong
    Member

    @yossarian

    While I am sympathetic to what you say, I don’t see that it can be fixed in situ. The fact is that you have got decent sized towns in places where decent sized towns cannot be sustainably supported now that the raison d’etre for them being there is gone (the coal).

    Creating a sustainable economy is possible, but it will be at a smaller scale – look at the example given earlier of a now prosperous village in Swaledale that was once industrial, and much larger. If we’d had interventionist economists and politicians when the lead was worked out, you could be looking at a still decent sized town, with staggering levels of poverty and deprivation and people wringing their hands about why they couldn’t attract Panasonic to built a new factory in the middle of nowhere.

    globalti
    Member

    Somehow over the last century we seem to have come to consider coal mining as a permanent industry. Yet mining and quarrying, as any outdoorsman knows, are activities that function on a knife edge of profitability depending on the market price of the commodity against the cost of extraction. Mines and quarries open and close and re-open for a while then close. Lead, copper, tin, slate and other traditional industries boomed and went bust as market conditions changed so why shouldn’t coal?

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    I always wonder what that area would have been like before the mines moved in.. stunningly beautiful I imagine.

    yossarian
    Member

    why shouldn’t they be again? What is stopping the areas being developed as country parks and other recreational facilities? Genuine commitment from central government is what.

    As time has passed we seem to have accepted that certain regions of the UK are just going to be abandoned along with the poeple who live there. That is clearly unjust and reflects accurately the real political philosophies of the past 30 years.

    depressing innit?

    wrecker
    Member

    Therin lies the problem, you’ve inadvertently deamonised them as somehow different to you.

    That wasn’t my point, or what I was thinking. I was trying to think what I’d do if it happened to me. I certainly haven’t demonised anyone.

    Hypothetialy if I were a miner, I’m sure I’d move too, if I wasn’t living in a house in a village with no imigration and work prospects and therefore no value, who’s going to buy it to fund the deposit on my new house?

    ? Even if they did own their houses, they don’t anymore so they’ve gained zero by staying put. They’d have been better off taking the hit at the time, and as said numerous times in this thread we have a very generous benefits system throughout the UK. My obligation to my family would have been greater than the obligation to my mortgage provider.

    And once I’m in the land of milk and honey/south east, what am I going to do with my GNVQ (or whatever) in Mining Coal?

    The same as anyone else. Most people don’t have a skill/specialism and live happy lives. What I wouldn’t have done is stay put and wait in the hope that someone will provide for my family.

    why shouldn’t they be again? What is stopping the areas being developed as country parks and other recreational facilities? Genuine commitment from central government is what.

    Isn’t the WAG in charge of the country’s finances/budgets now?

    Premier Icon piha
    Subscriber

    Great thread with some really interesting posts.

    I think that ‘martinhutch’ has some valid points about benefits. If you look at migration into the South East/London of Eastern Europeans, that shows that when you have nothing at home you will to move to find a better life.

    I work with a lot of migrants and the picture they paint of ‘back home’ would encourage many people to seek a better life elsewhere, especially the young (many of them with little or no skills but hungry to learn/earn). Many of them inform me that if you don’t earn any money, then you go hungry. They somehow manage to get enough money to travel to the UK and do what they have to do when they arrive here. This means shit jobs for shit pay and living in a house with 8 or 10 other people. I have been speaking to one individual today who has been working for £15 a day in a butchers in London for months. It’s not right but sadly that’s what happens.

    Luckily we have a society where we can (and should) look after people who are unable to work but I don’t think it encourages people to move to look for work. I don’t think people should have to move away from their home to look for work but the present reality is that if you live in one of these deprived area’s, you might struggle to improve your life if you don’t.

    It would take a momentous change of policy/thinking for this to change. The biggest challenge as I see it, is for job sustainability. It doesn’t help anyone for a factory to open on the back of government incentives only to close again a few years later.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    I was trying to think what I’d do if it happened to me.

    Imagine you’re 55, no qualifications, and only have skills in mining. You haven’t enough money for the deposit on a house either. Still want to up sticks and move?

    Most people don’t have a skill/specialism and live happy lives.

    Most people pick up specialisms and skills when they are young and free.

    Papa_Lazarou
    Member

    Whenever I visit Wales I always think it punches below its weight in terms of tourism potential. The beaches and mountains are amazing. On a summer’s day, the Lake District will be rammed and yet you can (thankfully) drive around parts of Wales and it’s virtually empty.

    5thElefant
    Member

    English subtitles.

    In one simple move you’d increase tourism.

    Luckily that’ll never happen and it’ll stay nice and quiet.

    wrecker
    Member

    Imagine you’re 55, no qualifications, and only have skills in mining. You haven’t enough money for the deposit on a house either. Still want to up sticks and move?

    The 55 year olds must have been in the minority though? The blokes pictured are only about that now. I don’t know the ins and outs but wasn’t social housing available in the 80s (before they sold them off)?
    I’m coming across as trying to criticise these people which isn’t my intention. I’ve not been in their shoes and can’t imagine how hard it must have been. They’ve just been left to rot.

    Edit; After years of holidaying in devon/cornwall, I persuaded to in laws to try wales (carmarthen). They loved it; the people, the beaches, the prices. We all go every year now (and I get to go biking 😉 ). Wales has masses to offer as a tourist destination and as Molgrips pointed out; it isn’t difficult to get to any more.

    edlong
    Member

    For everyone espousing tourism as the solution, what form of tourism do you envisage ro provide the number of jobs that coal mines used to?

    Yes, tourism could and should be developed further, but it is not going to replace heavy industry as an employer of thousands and thousands of workers. It just isn’t.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    It does get plenty of tourists of course, but the reason the Lakes are busier is that it’s a more compact area with more intensive tourist stuff (both natural and man made), but mainly because it’s really close to big conurbations.

    Re tourism in Wales, don’t get mixed up. The article is about the Valleys, and no tourists want to go there. The lovely scenery etc is elsewhere, where population is light and it’s mostly tourism and farming. Not exactly boom time there either but a quite different social situation. I dare you to take your next holiday in Merthyr Tydfil.

    I don’t know the ins and outs but wasn’t social housing available in the 80s

    Yes, but I’d imagine that most of it elsewhere was full or nearly so.

    5thElefant
    Member

    Not compared to cornwall and wales is at least as nice and even closer to the rest of the country.

    wrecker
    Member

    Merthyr Tydfil could be a bonafide tourist destination with a bit of investment and a change in attitude from the locals.
    I visited Blaenau Ffestiniog recently, as did many others. The uplift is ace 😉

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber
    wrecker
    Member

    OK, maybe a little more than a bit but it isn’t and shouldn’t be considered a lost cause.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    I love Wales, my family’s from the Valleys, and parts of the Valleys are beautiful, but I just can’t imagine Merthyr being a tourist destination! It would need to be almost completely buldozed and rebuilt…

    Pigface
    Member

    I was born in Tredegar lived in Brynmawr until I was four then grew up in Abercarn, even in the boom times places like Cwm were miserable.

    There is a certain mentality that is inherent in some valley people, when I was 19 me and a mate runaway to London. I was back visiting some mates and bumped into a bloke I hadn’t seen for a couple of years, he asked me what I was doing with my self and I told him I was a despatch rider in London, his reply was ” not good enough round here for you, you f*****g ****”

    It’s hard to explain places like Ebbw Vale, Abertillery Pontypool

    One thing I know is that the valleys I grew up in are spectacularly beautiful, in a way I think it is sad that all the slag heaps have gone, there is only one I know left which is up by the mast on Machen Mountain and Bedwas has one. It’s like taking part of our heritage away.

    If you create a region with good or outstanding schools combined with affordable housing and falling crime rates and funded opportunities for small businesses the rest will follow.

    Bullshit. The fact of the matter is that the South East of England is going to prosper and the rest of Britain is largely going to shit. You can do all you want to try to create jobs, opportunity, education etc in the provinces but at the end of the day you’re pissing in the wind. Most of the big business will gradually move to the SE.

    Look at Astra Zeneca in Alderley Edge…
    Cheap Houses – Yes (obviously not in AE itself :-))
    Educated workforce – yes
    Experienced workforce – yes
    Skilled workforce – yes
    Existing factory and laboratory buildings – yes

    And what are they doing…. closing the whole lot down and moving it to Cambridge because they think Northern/Middle England is too far away from SE England to sustain. They have everything they need but are moving/binning all they have built up over the years to join the drain to the SE.
    If a company that big with a commitment that big to Cheshire and a set of skilled workers that good is giving up the fight and moving away then that clearly says that the rest of Britain to completely *&^)ed quite frankly. The valleys in Wales with only 1 of the following items in their favour have zero chance.

    Cheap Houses – Yes
    Educated workforce – no
    Experienced workforce – no
    Skilled workforce -no
    Existing factory and laboratory buildings – no

    Sorry, none of this is really relevant to the OP, but the drain in the UK annoys me like nothing else. Nearly every part of Britain contributed important things to make Britain Great and as part of that process made London and SE England prosperous. Now that general wealth has gone, but London continues to reap the benefits whilst the rest of the country dies.
    Yes, I know you were talking about small business, and I mentioned big Pharma, so my point makes no sense at all. I just wanted a rant.

    ohnohesback
    Member

    It can be just as grim in the South East. The closure of Ford in Southampton, Pfizer in Kent… In fact Kent used to have a mining industry, and Portsmouth dockyards were much bigger than now. Some of the dockers loading the Falkland task force did so with redundancy notices in their pocket.

    The solutions are never easy, but cramming more people into an overcrowded south-east isn’t the answer.

    Premier Icon MSP
    Subscriber

    Things they could do-

    Do high speed rail links properly, west coast going up to Glasgow, East coast going up to Edinburgh (or maybe all the way up to (Aberdeen), and another going out from the Se through Bristol and along the south coast of Wales. Also a link across somewhere central, say hull to Liverpool. And do it soon.

    Move the Countries political centre away from London.

    Stop London pay weighting on all Public service jobs.

    yossarian
    Member

    For everyone espousing tourism as the solution, what form of tourism do you envisage ro provide the number of jobs that coal mines used to?
    Yes, tourism could and should be developed further, but it is not going to replace heavy industry as an employer of thousands and thousands of workers. It just isn’t.

    A Centreparcs style business, an Alton Towers type venture, a safari park, a motor racing circuit etc etc etc. Get one or two of these off the ground and functioning and the knock on effects for the local economy would be palpable.

    You can’t replace heavy industry with one thing, there’d be little point would there?

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    in a way I think it is sad that all the slag heaps have gone

    Don’t get the communities mixed up with the place. The valleys were there long before the coal was worked, and will still be there afterwards. I was probably not even born when this was written, but Max says it beautifully as ever. Dusty in here, somehow..

    SIRHOWY HILL

    A steel town was waking as dawn it was breaking
    And talk was uneasy ’bout things at the Mill
    And talk is uneasy in the streets of a valley
    For flowers are growing on Sirhowy Hill.

    Chorus :

    For the wheel is full turning
    And flowers are learning
    To grow once again
    On Sirhowy Hill.

    I wandered my way on that shabby old morning
    In a broken old valley where the pitwheel is still
    Where tired old terraces built in a hurry
    Are painted so gaily on Sirhowy Hill.

    The smoke and the sulphur I knew as a lad
    On thinking it over, it wasn’t that bad
    So let those old furnaces do what they will
    Now flowers are growing on Sirhowy Hill.

    Those hills that were crippled of hawthorn and heather
    Of fern and of flower strangely are still
    For the wheel is full turning and flowers are learning
    To grow once again on Sirhowy Hill.

    They’ll sit and decide in the seats of decision
    On the fate of a valley should the furnaces chill
    And offer new work in some marshmallow factory
    To men of a valley long forged in a skill.

    edlong
    Member

    100 years ago there were a quarter of a million men working in the coal mines in Wales. Now there’s about 1,200.

    How many employees does a Centerparcs or an Alton Towers have? A few hundred? It’s simply not going to provide employment at anything like the same scale. Even during the 1980s there were upwards of 20,000 employed in the South Wales coal field. Tourism may mitigate the decline, but it surely won’t reverse it.

    EDIT: And most tourism jobs are seasonal, casual, or both. A motor racing circuit may provide employment to a fair few people, but for how many days a year?

    ohnohesback
    Member

    Don’t forget to add low-paid and low-skilled to that description. I despair whenever I hear of ‘solutions’ involving tourism, cafes, eateries, or ‘circuses.’

    And don’t get me started on ‘destination retail’…

    Pigface
    Member

    I think the communities and the places are intertwined.

    grum
    Member

    Bullshit. The fact of the matter is that the South East of England is going to prosper and the rest of Britain is largely going to shit.

    Absolutely spot on with this and the rest of your post IMO. London is a giant subsidy-hoover and look how well being in thrall to the city is doing for us.

    tinybits
    Member

    I don’t have a lit to add, but this is one of the better threads here recently and very enjoyable to read. Please keep it up all.

    RichPenny
    Member

    Trying to put myself in their position, if I suddenly couldn’t work where I live for whatever reason, I’d move. I’d need to provide food, shelter and hopefully a decent life for my family and the best chance possible for the kid(s).
    I’m sure I’d miss my wider family and friends but needs must. Looking after the nearest and dearest is number 1 priority.

    It’s a question of degrees isn’t it. It’s pretty unlikely that you live precisely where your best opportunities lie, but you haven’t moved there because of family, friends and familiarity.

    What if family, friends and familiarity are the only good things in your life? It’s an immense decision then to move away from that for the promise of an equally difficult life elsewhere without those things.

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