1950s >> 1958 >> no-651-november-1958

News From Wales

The principality once again, after a lapse of years, has been given a Prince of its own, though the traditional investiture is yet to come. This recognition of Wales’ historic status has been welcomed by some, deplored— though in a genteel way—by others, especially the Nationalists. But on the whole the news has been met with an indifference by the majority. The fact is that Wales, despite a certain air of “glamour” that has enveloped it during the past months, is rather depressed.

Unemployment is high especially among the steel and tinplate workers of Glamorgan, due to the recent concentration of the industry into fewer factories where Automation, and other streamlined techniques, have resulted in the need for less personnel. Trade Unions and local Government bodies are now exerting as much pressure as they can to bring the Government along to the idea of building another, and the biggest ever, Strip Steel Mill, on a site in South Wales. No one, it seems, can see that even if they built a dozen mills, the evils of Capitalism would remain.

The situation in the agricultural areas is also far from bright. Attempts are to be made to “revitalise” the country-side and “stop the drift” by afforestation and other schemes.

Perhaps the biggest shock of all has been the recent exposure of the danger of radiation due to “fall-out.” It is said that Wales has the highest rate of “fall-out” in Britain; that the Strontium 90 content in the bones of Welsh children is higher than elsewhere in the British Isles. This, it is claimed, is due to a combination of high rainfall and high ground. Of course, here again no one has said that it is really due to Capitalism, and that it would be far easier to remove Capitalism than to level the mountain ranges or shift the direction of the prevailing winds. Speaking in such vein may seem ridiculously futile, but it is a fact that a serious suggestion has been made that Wales should be covered with LIME in order to offset the radiation effects! We presume this is an attempt by Capitalism to whitewash its activities!

We, for our part, can only continue to point out the remedy, in the meantime hoping that we won’t be recruited into a lime-spreading Brigade or spend the coming winter preparing the bleak Welsh mountains for pine forests.

As if it were not enough that the workers should be haunted by the fore-runners of things to come; as well as the difficulties of the moment, the scene is made ridiculously nauseating by a violent quarrel over religion, reminding one of the Religious Persecutions of the past (though in those times people did not have to contend with the added evils of Capitalism).

Recently, a young Swansea soldier died a hero’s death (according to some) in Morriston Hospital. He had been present at a bomb test on Christmas Island and was sent home with Blood Leukemia, brought about, says the British Legion and others, direct participation in the tests. This has created quite a stir. It seems that in future it will be a waste of time sending boys abroad for a radiation “dose.” It will be delivered in larger and larger doses every morning with the milk on our doorsteps.

The report as a whole makes gloomy reading we admit, but it is really difficult to brighten it up in any way unless we add the following:—

The National Eisteddfod was a thumping success; reams of poetry; days of singing: culture writ large across the face of Wales. The British Commonwealth Games held in Cardiff (now given the dignity of a Capital City) paid off well. Welsh footballers brought fame and glory to “Yr Hen Wlad ” (The Old Country) by virtue of their performance during the World Cup Series. The Welsh Nationalists have turned out another pamphlet and the miners have been offered a couple of bob more (if they agree to work on Saturdays).

We must add that in our estimation the overall picture as reported above is a grim one, especially exasperating to Socialists in Wales who are eager to end it all.

This, then, concludes our report from Wales—Land of Festivals and “ Fall-Out.” We are hoping that more of our fellow workers will decide to “fall in” in the near future—not to spread lime, but to spread Socialism, not to kick footballs, but to kick the system out of existence. We feel that the future will then enable us to create monuments of culture such as will dwarf those grim old sentinels—the Cambrian Hills. Wales, will, for the first time, be in the position to give a real welcome to the world’s visitors—with no charge made!
W. Brain