Saturday, 5 March 2016

Ebbw Vale and The Valley of Steel

Yr Aflonyddwch Mawr remembers Ebbw Vale and the Steelworks many of our members had family who worked there and the devastation effect of its closure are still with us.

      Thatcherism swept away the twin pillars of heavy industry on which the Welsh economy had rested for two centuries – iron and steel and coal and devastated Wales in a few decades.

Thatcher and Thatcherism are words that mean free market neo liberal capitalism and unless we confront and defeat the Thatcherite mantra of marketization and privatisation we will not reverse Welsh economic decline.

The privatisation of the steel industry in 1988 led to the closure of works at East Moors in Cardiff, Shotton in North Wales and Ebbw Vale which had in the mid Sixties employed 10,000 men.

The contraction of the steel industry progressed slower compared to the rapid disappearance of coal.

By July 1985 only 31 mines were left in Wales compared to 620 at the outbreak of World War I.

After the 1984-85 miners’ strike the rate of closure accelerated.

By 1993 a further 18 had disappeared.

The last deep mine in South Wales, Tower, closed a year later.

Nor was rural Wales safe from Thatcher policies.

Thatcher's championing of private home ownership and the consequent rise in house prices enabled many from more affluent parts of Britain to buy second homes in rural Wales or move there permanently to live off their property market windfalls.

The result was an intolerable strain on the Welsh language heartland and its culture.

However the naked figures of the industrial closures belie the real devastation to communities built around over two centuries of coal mining and iron and steel making, the catastrophic collapse of employment in Wales in many communities saw the rise of a drug culture and crime which reflected the social hopelessness of the situation.

We at the Yr Aflonyddwch Mawr want to arrest Welsh decline by new policies and new politics of Welsh renewal - yes a new Welsh Revival, fundamental to that Revival and Renewal is the rejection of further marketisation of the Welsh Economy and the creation and socialisation of new industries.

We have already called for the creation of public enterprises to create employment via a new Welsh Banking System and a new Welsh Land Act.

Wales will have a future.
The Welsh people must make it, nobody else will


Note On South Korean Steel Industry

It is one of the myths in the West that the Steel industry in South Korea especially Pohang Iron and Steel (POSCO) were free market competitive enterprises - they were not - they were heavily subsidised both directly and indirectly by the South Korean Government

I flew over the POSCO plant in the 1990's it was so massive and impressive but it was a product of South Korean State intervention and not the Free Market.

While we swallowed free market Thatcherism it was the South Korean opportunity to build their Steel Industry and seize world markets.

Thatcher left us the poisoned chalice of the City of London financial parasitism and destroyed our industries in the name of the free market.


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