MOLD RIOTS 1869 (Update)
In my previous post I mentioned the Mold Riots of 1869, which resulted in four locals being shot dead by soldiers brought in from Chester, with many more wounded, resulting from unrest at Leeswood Green colliery â€“ situated between Mold and Wrecsam â€“ following the appointment of English manager, John Young, his treatment of the miners and his hostility towards the Welsh language.
Determined to get more information on this episode of Welsh history that has been largely ignored outside of the immediate vicinity, I started trawling the internet. One piece I came across was on the Hiraeth website (a site previously unknown to me), and while the site narrative followed the accepted version there was a curious panel insert offering a very different version.
So curious is it that it deserves to be analysed in some detail.
First off, the writer of the panel, David Rowe, tells us, â€œThere is no evidence that the use of Cymraeg was banned by Youngâ€�. (Note the use of the â€˜Iâ€™m on your sideâ€™ â€˜Cymraegâ€™ rather than â€˜Welshâ€™.)
And yet, the novelist Daniel Owen, who lived in Mold at the time, and wrote about the events in Rhys Lewis, was in no doubt that the curtailing or prohibition of the use of Welsh in the mine was one of the causes of the unrest that culminated in the riots.
So do we believe a Welsh speaker, an observant man native to the area, with no political axe to grind, who almost certainly spoke with those involved, and therefore wrote from first-hand knowledge; or do we believe David Rowe, who comes from north east England, as did John Young?
I know who my moneyâ€™s on.
Rowe continues, â€œIndeed, during one of the two trials associated with the events, a number of the defendants were provided with a translator as they did not speak English.â€� He could well be right, but this is a non-sequitur because the trials were not organised by John Young. This contribution has no value beyond establishing that many of those involved spoke little or no English.
Soon after we read, â€� . . . it is also perhaps worth noting that very little is said about the injuries suffered by the army and police prior to them opening fire. Two of the eighteen injured police officers, Superintendent Thomas and Sergeant Dew, never returned to work and of the latter it was reported that â€˜his helmet was smashed in, a stone was afterwards found inside itâ€™â€�
This is almost unbelievable. Rowe seems to be arguing that stones thrown at police and soldiers justified those soldiers firing into a crowd containing women and children, and killing two women!
As for Superintendent Thomas and Sergeant Dew not returning to work, was this due to the severity of their injuries, or did they just take early retirement?
Roweâ€™s interpretation goes on, â€œThe affair was not supported by Mold townspeople and shopkeepers, and the miners took their business to Wrexham.â€� Here we have something else that needs to be taken with a dollop of Halen MÃ´n. The miners worked at Leeswood, which lies between Mold and Wrecsam, many of them may have lived nearer to Wrecsam than to Mold, and may always have done their shopping in the larger town.
But the intention is clear â€“ â€˜These were a few hotheads ostracised by the local communityâ€™. A crude smear.
And yet, for the wrong reason, Rowe may be right. For in Rhys Lewis, Daniel Owen has chapel elder Abel Hughes, say, â€œBut these strikes are a very strange thing. Theyâ€™re things that have come from the English; they donâ€™t belong to us, and I fear that they will do a lot of harm to this countryâ€�. (Translation: SM.)
So if the locals of Mold kept their distance from the strikers this could be because they regarded strikes as an unwanted English importation. Which would mean that the strikers were not behaving in an acceptably Welsh way.
David Rowe concludes with a â€˜lived happily ever afterâ€™ element in the form of, â€œ(Young) went back to Leeswood Green Colliery and one of the original rioters is later described as being his â€˜right hand manâ€™.â€� Perhaps an attempt at bridge-building forced on Young by the mine-owners?
Though seeing as there were hundreds of rioters this doesnâ€™t really say much.
Interestingly, Rowe neglects to address the matter of Young bringing in English miners and giving them the best diggings. This may have been as much a cause of the trouble, perhaps more so, than Youngâ€™s hostility to the Welsh language.
Now Iâ€™ve been around long enough to recognise a whitewash when I read it, the sanitisation of historical events to suit a political or other agenda, and thatâ€™s exactly what we have here.
To paraphrase David Rowe.
John Young was victimised by a small group of nasty, xenophobic Welsh miners. The behaviour of this malign element was countered with the civilising influence of English soldiers who were provoked beyond endurance and were fully justified in firing on a crowd of (allegedly) unarmed people. Following the riots the strikers were again proven to be just a few hotheads representing no one but themselves when they were shunned by the people of Mold.
Rowe strikes me as one of those of whom we have too many in Wales today. They move in and in a very short time have taken over local clubs and associations, setting themselves up as experts on all things Welsh, all things local, and because of our inbuilt timidity resulting from centuries of brainwashing, we allow them to get away with it.
But not on this blog, pal.
Malcolm X once said, â€œOnly a fool would let his enemy educate his childrenâ€� I think we can add, â€˜Only a nation of fools would let its history be interpreted by its enemiesâ€™.
HOW A COLONIAL ECONOMY OPERATES
Iâ€™m sure many of you have drunk Princes Gate bottled water, I know I have, though I must admit I was never sure where it came from. Now I learn thereâ€™s a little place called Princes Gate a couple of miles south east of Narberth in Pembrokeshire, not far from Cold Blow.
And itâ€™s there we find the company run by brothers David and Glyn Jones. Itâ€™s in the news because theyâ€™ve sold out to NestlÃ©. Which I find concerning for two reasons.
To begin with, we see an old story retold â€“ Welsh company starts up, grows, becomes profitable and desirable, with the result that it is bought out, usually by a larger English company, and often closed down, with production moved to England.
Though in the case of Princes Gate the new owner is mega multinational NestlÃ©, and seeing as it bottles local water production certainly canâ€™t be transferred, though the operation might still be closed down if NestlÃ© felt it had too many producers of bottled water, or if the market took a dip.
Of more concern for many than job losses is NestlÃ©â€™s reputation in the field of water extraction, and how its operations impact on neighbours and the wider environment.
Here are two reports on NestlÃ© operations in the USA; one in California, and one in Michigan. The allegations are that NestlÃ© pays a pittance for the right to extract water, extracts more than it should, lowers the water table and affects everyone else, and generally puts its own corporate interests above all other considerations.
NestlÃ© hasnâ€™t bought Princes Gate to lose money, and given the companyâ€™s global track record itâ€™s reasonable to assume that it will seek to increase production. Increasing production can only mean extracting more water, and this will inevitably lower the water table and affect the local environment.
Which is what Princes Gate was accused of doing in 2016. Maybe the effect the increased production was having on neighbours they knew and socialised with held Dai and Glyn Jones back from further expansion. It may be why theyâ€™re selling up.
Multinational NestlÃ© with its army of lawyers and â€˜expertsâ€™ will have no qualms about pissing off the neighbours.
One to watch, methinks.
Arla â€˜Welshâ€™ Cheese
Moving north, another recent story concerned the Arla cheese plant at Llandyrnog, a few miles east of Denbigh. It seems that the Danish company that owns the plant is transferring production to Devon but will still call the product â€˜Welsh cheeseâ€™.
This, again, is an old refrain, for many of us will remember the closure of creameries in the south west in the 1970s and 1980s, with politicians doing nothing to help as production was, again, transferred to England. Milk from Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire is still heading for the border every day. As one respondent to a tweet I put out said, â€œYou only need to go to Cross Hands (on the A48, just shy of the M4) any day of the week to see tens of articulated tankers filled with Welsh milk destined for dairies in England.â€�
Why is this still happening twenty years into devolution? Even allowing for the fact that the Poverty Party cares nothing for rural areas the other parties could surely be applying pressure? Or, come to that, why canâ€™t our farmers organise themselves, as farmers in Ireland and other countries have done, why rely on foreign companies to come in and rip them off?
Raw materials and unfinished good being taken out of a poor country to be finished and profited from in a controlling richer country is the classic definition of a colonial economy.
One the best illustrations of this comes from pre-independence Cuba where the locals were allowed to grow tobacco which was then shipped to Spain in its raw state to be made into cigars. With the jobs and the profits of course accruing to Spain.
Twenty-first century Wales is catching up fast with nineteenth-century Cuba. What a testament that is to English ownership and â€˜Welshâ€™ Labour management of our country!
BACK TO THE FUTURE
Many observers, of a leftist or â€˜progressiveâ€™ bent, have enjoyed drawing silly parallels lately. For example, the election of Donald Trump is compared to Hitler taking power in 1933, people refusing to be silenced by political correctness are the harbingers of global fascism, and the rise of anti-establishment movements is the first step on the road to totalitarianism.
All bollocks of course, because if there is any parallel to be drawn with the past, certainly in these offshore islands, then we need to go back a few centuries. Iâ€™m thinking of a time when England was trying to take complete control over the other countries with varying degrees of support and opposition coming from within those countries.
If we take Ireland in the medieval period, there was support for the English presence from the â€˜Old Englishâ€™, before their position was usurped (because they remained Catholic) by the Protestant Ascendancy, which in turn was replaced by the Presbyterian Scots, mainly in Ulster but also in the other Provinces.
Today the descendants of those settlers from Lowland Scotland wield great power in the UK government, for the Democratic Unionist Party, founded by the Reverend Doctor Ian Kyle Paisley, is keeping Mrs Mayâ€™s shower afloat. Another face of Unionism-Loyalism is of course the Orange Order.
Among these Loyalists we find some thuggish elements, as we saw in George Square, Glasgow, the day after the independence referendum in September 2014. What we also saw in George Square that day were plenty of fascist salutes, reminding us of how Loyalism and fascism often merge into the ultimate expression of â€˜British valuesâ€™. Something to which critics of â€˜nationalismâ€™ seem blind.
The Orangemen are to hold a big march at the end of this month in Cowdenbeath, Fife, and the guest speaker is Arlene Foster, leader of the DUP. This is unusual for a number of reasons, not least that the Orange Orderâ€™s attitude towards women has historically mirrored that of the Freemasons, an organisation with which it has always had strong links â€“ â€˜Make the tea, dollâ€™.
There can be no question that inviting the leader of the DUP to Scotland is designed to send a message to the SNP about its thinking on a second independence referendum. It might even be a threat. It would be interesting to know if the UK government had a hand in the invitation.
But it could all be counter-productive when we remember the kind of bigots and outright nutters that inhabit the Unionist-royalist-Loyalist-BritNat-fascist continuum. Fortunately, the latest issue of Private Eye reminds us of some of the stars to be found in the Democratic Unionist Party.
Top of the bill must be the Reverend William â€˜Boxcar Willieâ€™ McCrea. As the Eye tells us, â€œAccording to official papers released three years ago, after the American air raids on Tripoli in 1986, Boxcar Willie asked the Thatcher government to launch similar missile attacks on the Irish Republic. A memo from an official in the Northern Ireland Office noted: â€˜Rev William McCrea urged Libya-style strikes against Dundalk, Drogheda, Crossmaglen and Carrickmoreâ€™.â€�
Which is even more insane than it initially reads â€“ for Crossmaglen and Carrickmore are actually in Northern Ireland; Republican strongholds, admittedly, but still in Northern Ireland. So this lunatic wanted the UK government to bomb parts of the United Kingdom and kill people who were â€“ however reluctantly â€“ British subjects!
And now heâ€™s in the House of Lords. It would be easy to be flippant and say thatâ€™s where he belongs, among lots of other old tossers. But heâ€™s there because his party is propping up â€“ and influencing â€“ the UK government. And remember, Boxcar Willie and the DUP represent the acceptable face of Unionism. Just think what the arse-end looks like!
Finally, consider this: there will soon be a Catholic majority in the Six Counties, and this will inevitably be followed by a united Ireland (if Brexit doesnâ€™t do it). As the Unionist-Loyalist GÃ¶tterdÃ¤mmerung approaches many of Boxcar Willieâ€™s fervid supporters will be looking for somewhere else to settle. (Unless they decide to go out with an OAS-style bang.)
When that happens I guarantee some will be â€˜directedâ€™ to Wales. So maybe youâ€™d better prepare yourself for this sort of thing along Aberystwyth Promenade.
PUTTING FAITH IN CARWYN
The ugly lovely town has taken a few to the nuts of late: first it was the decision not to electrify the railway line from London beyond Cardiff; then, last month, we lost 800 jobs when Virgin Media pulled out; the Swans have been relegated, the Ospreys knocked off their perch; and now it seems we are not getting the tidal lagoon either.
But Carwyn Jones, our beloved and respected First Minister, has reiterated his governmentâ€™s support for the project with, â€œThe Welsh Government remains committed to the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon and we stand ready to provide significant financial backing to help make it a realityâ€�. Canâ€™t say fairer than that!
Though I wonder if heâ€™s not giving himself â€“ or his successor â€“ up as a hostage to fortune. Because if, as expected, the UK government pulls the plug this week on the lagoon project then people in Wales, and especially those around Swansea Bay, will expect Carwyn Jones to come riding to the rescue.
But will that happen? And is there anything he can really do?
Carwyn Jones seems to be offering money, but Iâ€™m not sure thatâ€™s the sticking point. I believe thereâ€™d be no difficulty finding funding for the project â€“ if the UK government agrees to take the power produced, which it seems unwilling to do.
Because the sticking point is the â€˜strike priceâ€™ asked by those operating the lagoon, which according to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is significantly higher than the price agreed for electricity supplied by the Hinckley Point nuclear power station in Somerset.
Yet operators Tidal Lagoon Power (TLP) disagree, saying they had previously asked for a 90-year contract with the UK government with an average strike price of Â£89.90 per megawatt hour. The new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C in Somerset was given a strike price of Â£92.50/MWh for 35 years.
It begins to look as if, for whatever reason, the UK government just doesnâ€™t want tidal energy, or maybe itâ€™s tidal energy in Wales it doesnâ€™t want. Either way, it looks as if the project is dead. However . . . if the â€˜Welshâ€™ Governmentâ€™s money can bring down the strike price it might be difficult for London to remain intransigent.
The announcement later this week will be Mrs May lobbing the ball into Carwynâ€™s court. Itâ€™ll then be up to him how he plays it.
Will it be a thundering cross-court volley leaving Theresa May sprawling? Might it be an elegant backhand drawing oohs and aahs from the sun-drenched crowd? Or will he stumble and smash it into the net, as usual?
â™¦ end â™¦