IDS the Merthyr expert

The Western Mail reports on Iain Duncan Smith’s comments on the lack of mobilty of Merthyr people.

Mr Duncan Smith said people in Merthyr “didn’t know if they got on the bus, an hour’s journey they’d be in Cardiff and they could look for the job there”.
He added: “We need to recognise the jobs often don’t come to you. Sometimes you need to go to the jobs.”
Dai Havard, the MP for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney, said: “These ministers have a stereotypical view of Merthyr Tydfil and of the Valleys in general.
“First you had Norman Tebbit’s ‘on yer bike’ now you’ve got Iain Duncan Smith’s ‘on yer bus’. This is a man from the Home Counties who hasn’t got a clue about the Valleys.
“These issues are not simple, in fact they are hugely complex and difficult. It’s all very well saying ‘these jobs are in Cardiff so get on a bus’, but what bus? If you’re working a shift pattern and you’re starting at, say, 2pm then there is no bus.
“This doesn’t play to the reality it plays to a stereotype.”
Jeff Edwards, the leader of Merthyr council, said: “If Mr Duncan Smith really wishes to reduce dependency on benefits, his Government needs to continue to support [our council] in encouraging private sector investment into the region and creating local employment opportunities.
“He’s welcome to come to Merthyr anytime – there’s a daily bus from London.”

Inside Mario Basini defends his town with some style:
A letter to IDS

…The first journey of an engine on rails occurred in Merthyr – a joint enterprise between two men of genius, the ironmaster Samuel Homfray and the Cornish engineer Richard Trevithick. It was the beginning of the railway era without which the Industrial Revolution, and therefore modern civilisation, would not have been possible.

Merthyr produced great writers and journalists in Welsh and English, including the Berry brothers, Lords Camrose and Kemsley, who between them owned newspapers like The Daily Telegraph, The Financial Times and The Sunday Times and made them into the institutions they are today. They and their eldest brother Seymour were dedicated supporters of the town, unlike the newspapers they helped to create.

The fight for workers’ rights and a decent wage grew to maturity here. The red flag as a symbol of Labour was first raised during the 1831 Merthyr riots. The first Labour MP, Keir Hardie, represented the town.

Merthyr’s energy and enterprise helped shape the modern world, making your thinly- veiled accusations of impotence and laziness, appear the calumnies they are.

What is really depressing about your words, Mr Duncan Smith, is their obtuseness, their failure to show even a schoolboy’s understanding of Merthyr’s great past and its present predicament…..

From Merthyr to Cardiff is an hour on the train with 13 intermediate stops. The Tories are on the verge of cancelling the electrification of the Great Western Railway. That would be the precursor to the electrification of the Valleys network – where the benefits of rapid acceleration and decelerating would really effect journey times. I reckon electrification could knock a quarter of an hour off the Merthyr Cardiff journey…So how about some practical help Mr Duncan Smith?

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