Saturday, 23 October 2010

On the Buses.

 Iain Duncan Smith has said  unemployed should 'get on the bus' to find work. he suggests on Newsnight that people in the south Wales town of Merthyr Tydfil they have become static and should seek work in Cardiff.The work and pensions secretary suggested unemployed people "get on a bus" to find work.The former Tory leader claimed people were unaware they could take a one-hour bus journey to Cardiff for work. It is clear that Duncan Smith has no idea about Merthyr and its problems and has based his sole argument on a programme on Sky News on 7 August which was a typical media hatchet job on the unemployed portraying them as work shy. Which I commented on here
But what of Duncan Smiths argument below is a time table from the unemployment Blackspot of Gurnos in Merthyr Tydfil to Queen Street in the centre of Cardiff.. . But for the majority seeking work from Merthyr the jobs will not be in Queen Streetbut in the outskirts of Cardiff and would involve a further trip. Say Pentwyn.

So that's another 45 minutes assuming you can get a quick connection. and it means that you are unlikely to be able to find work where the  start time is before 8 00.AM.
Of course many make such journeys but it is very difficult and with an increasing unreliable transport (Arriva are dreadful) transport system employers  are often reluctant to give work to people reliant on such transport if it means long journeys.
There is one final point that Duncan Smith misses he seems to believe that there are hundreds of jobs in Cardiff one simple scan of job sights would show him that there are few jobs in the City especially for the unskilled.
I hope that he has made this statement out of ignorance and not in what appears an increasing trend by his Lib-Con colleagues to stigmatize decent people who due to the failure of successive governments to provide real solutions to blackspots like Merthyr


  1. So what do you propose Glyn. We've had 13 years of millions upon millions of pounds being spent on the Valleys; we've had Objectve One, we've had the WDA ...

    What's the answer?

    Invest more, try and get more companies to open factories/offices in the Valleys (I can't imagine that WAG and the local authories have been totally negiligent on this)?

    Maybe one part is to get away from the dependency culture which the Labour movement so promotes? Maybe one small part is to say to people, look, what are you willing to do? That, coupled with other Government initivites could create a sea change in the Valleys.m

    It's all very well to make some funny snide 'what does he know comments' about IDS but as far as I can see most things have been tried. Maybe, if we're honest, the future of the Valleys in the short and medium term is as a commuter area to Cardiff with the hope, coupled with strategy, that money earned in Cardiff will be invested by people in shops and services closer to home. To tell the truth, I believe this is what Labour politicians and Plaid actually believe but won't say. Maybe the Valleys needs to invest in some 'crachach' infrastructure - theatre, cinema, coffee shops, to draw people there. But of course, Labour won't do this for fear of 'selling out' and Plaid won't propose it for fear of being branded 'Welsh speaking Crachach' by Labour. So we're in an intellectual cul de sac.

    I've heard a lot of left wing commentators attach IDS - many of whom have moved from the Valleys to Cardiff (though not yourself).

    People move to jobs all the time - West and North Wales is full of Scousers, Mans, Brummies and Cockneys who've moved to Wales to find work (or it seems just sign on). People in the West think nothing of travelling 20 odd miles to work in Carmarthen, Aberystwyth, Bangor etc. But for some reason, Valleys people (usually coupled with a heroic sub story of miners, Merthyr Riots, Red Flag, Keir Hardie etc etc) are allowed to expect to find a job in their own town, not even their own Valley! People commute in London. The chances are, were someone to get a job in Pentwyn, that there'd be other people travelling into work there from your area.

    I'm not saying that there are loads of jobs in Cardiff nor that it's difficult (especially if you have kids) but the Valleys seem to expect some exemption from what every one else in Wales takes for granted which is 1) travel to work 2) work which can be inconvenient - whose job isn't difficult to balance with family life?! 3)that the exact job they want should be on their doorstep and it's up to the state to sort that out. These assumptions are back up by the Labour Party in the Valleys and Plaid's left wing so as to win votes.

    IDS is party right but not totally.

    Conserations need to made for getting people to work etc. But part of the bargain is that people who do work (yes, those in the Valleys too) feel that those who don't work aren't expecting a job to land on their laps with no problems. I've canvassed and spoke to people in the Valleys and other places who said they didn't want a job because it was too difficult to balance other things - as if people who work don't have these problems too.

    The left wing may get some quick laughs here but they are in danger of discrediting a lot of good argument they have relating to this subject if they come over as supporting those who believe they don't need to work. A lot of people across Wales and the Valleys who are in work will deeply resent that and will not vote for a party whom they believe will spend their taxes propping up votes from those who get something for nothing.

    Ordinary Voter

  2. Ordinary Voter
    Thank you for your comment although I disagree with most of your argument,at least it was thought out and not a sound bite without any knowledge of the nature of the problems people seeking work in Merthyr Which is what I was accusing Iain Duncun Smith of.

    You ask what my solution would be?
    I would look at forming cooperatives based on community needs and run by that community. I take pride in calling myself an “Utopian Socialist” and believe the past policies of trying to attract companies from outside has failed. If we are to regenerate our Valley economies we must do so with indigenous initiatives. The L.G. fiasco where millions were wasted on a project that never took off is an example and what's the point in spending money attracting multi-nationals to set up in Wales only for them to move to somewhere cheaper 10 or 20 years down the line.

    However I think you may have missed my point about IDS comment on travelling to Cardiff. I tried to show that for someone to travel from the Gurnos Estate to say Pentwyn (where there are some industries) would involve .three changes of Transport.

    I know for a fact that one of the questions that would be asked at an interview would be “How are you going to get to work by 8.00 AM? and given the choice between a car owner and someone dependent on public transport then they will almost certainly go for the former.

    As you rightly say people think nothing of travelling 20 miles to work but are the majority of these travelling by car?

    DWP rules say that jobseekers should be willing to travel for 1.30 hours each way to seek work and I disagree with this requirement, but there’s a vast difference in the distance you can travel by public transport and car.

    I’m willing to listen to any argument on this subject but the reality is that there are not “hundreds” a of jobs waiting to be filled in Cardiff by the unemployed of Cardiff let alone Merthyr and because of this I honestly believe Iain Duncun Smith deserves our derision. You put forward affair and balanced argument he just made an ignorant sound bite..

  3. Glyn - good points and I understand and agree with a lot of it.

    Cooperatives - yes, I'd like to see this, but again, people have been talking about cooperatives for decades and they just havn't taken off. Why? Well, it's not worth the bother, you've have a good idea and then have to share it and go through committee and waste hours in meetings? I don't know, but they haven't happened and I just don't see them every happening outside some specialist places i.e. cooperative pub or post office. But these are usually instances where the private/capitalist venture has failed which tends to point to the fact that there isn't enough clients who want that service. I'd be genuinely interested to hear how long cooperative pubs/shops/post offices last.

    Travel - yes, there's a difference of getting from Gurnos to Pentwyn and getting from Gurnos to Cardiff Central. I'm certainly not underplaying that. But there is also a tradition of people seeing Cardiff as being far away when it may not be that far. There's a cost in traveling but then housing is cheaper in the Valleys and the family network maybe able to soak up the extra costs for the worker.

    Maybe the answer for the worker is to move to Cardiff. From the UK state point of view that's reasonable. After all, people originally moved to the Valleys from rural Wales, England and Ireland a century ago to find work and today people move from Poland to work there.

    From a Welsh nationalist point of view I'd be a little concerned with this because I don't wish to see the further depopulation of the Valleys nor really Cardiff becoming more of an urban sprawl.

    But I do think IDS has a general point and I think the Left wing are on dangerous ground if they just belittle it. Dai Havard and Mario Basini were doing this on Saturday in the WM. It does kind of ask the question what the hell Dai Havard's party have been doing wrong for the last 13 years and several decades though.

    The Left seem to be painting their selves to be campaiging for work and workers right but not campaigining for the responsibility of people to find work. Campaiging and celebrating people who travell thousands of miles to work here 'we couldn't do without them' but campaiging for those who won't move 20 miles down the Valley as if it were a god-given right.

    The Left - Plaid's left as much as any one - need to understand that the generation of '68 is dead. People don't want to hear more about 'rights' they want to see more 'responsibility'. Less about 'freedom' and more about 'duty'.

    The Valleys community, and the labour movement, as you know better than I do Glyn, was very conservative in many ways. The chapel played their part in this. People were told to work, to accept work, to be respectful. They were taught duty. That hasn't gone but the political narrative has. If Plaid's left can't see that then they're left in a policial and philosophical cul de sac defending people's right not to work which is where they are now. IDS can be ridiculed, but my guess is that every councillor, every council leader (yes, Caerffili included) know there's an element of truth in what IDS has said.

    Ordinary Voter