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The suicide of Wales Dejection and despair now hang over the Valleys

A miner washing in Tower Colliery, one of the last deep mines in Wales. (Gideon Mendel/Corbis via Getty Images)

A miner washing in Tower Colliery, one of the last deep mines in Wales. (Gideon Mendel/Corbis via Getty Images)


March 26, 2024   5 mins

Rising above the mouth of the vale of Neath, the smoke hangs over the village like a dejected memory, a tragic reminder of what will soon evaporate. The recently announced closure of the blast furnaces at the Port Talbot steelworks will devastate the local economy, resulting in the immediate loss of 2,800 jobs before it starts to take its toll on the wider community.

Many there will have paid little attention to the confirmation last week of a new leader of the Senedd. Vaughan Gething has often pinned his allegiances to the trade union movement. But will his attention, like so many before him, shift away from these industrial regions? On a joint visit to North Wales yesterday, Gething and Keir Starmer vowed to “turbocharge jobs and growth”, but how many in Port Talbot were listening? The steelworks’ fate represents more than just the closure of another foreign-owned company, the latest in a long line to vacate these towns. It signifies the final nail in the coffin of South Wales Industry.

This story reads all too familiar to people from this part of the Isles. Since the birth of industrialisation, the Valleys have been continuously weathered by a collective system of manufactured depression, which has shaped and damaged the psychological condition of the Nation. Indeed, the very first signs of what is now commonly referred to as the Great Depression can be traced back to the economic collapse witnessed in the Valleys of South Wales in the spring-to-summer period of 1924. While only 2% of the population was unemployed at the start of that year, the impact was so profound that, by August 1925, it had risen to a staggering 28.5%. While numerous factors contributed to this, two stood out, both products of the raw realities of global economic and political conflict.

The first was the Treaty of Versailles, whose terms required a defeated Germany to supply cheap coal to Europe as part of its reparations. As the British representative on the Council of Four, the Welshman David Lloyd George was thus a signatory to a settlement that effectively pulled the rug of profitability from under the South Wales coalfields: the price of Welsh coal fell by nearly 50%. The second was a turn in the United States to more exploitable markets for energy in the Southern Hemisphere. By the time the Wall Street Crash had bankers and investors jumping from buildings in 1929, the Valleys of South Wales already had 45% of its workforce conscripted into the army of the unemployed.

The use of the military metaphor is not unintentional. As some 241 pits closed by 1936, resulting in the now familiar pattern of outward migration form the region of the fit and able, the only moment of reprieve would be the outbreak of the Second World War, resulting in the need once again for the region’s coal to help motor to machineries of warfare. What must it do to the psychology of a people knowing the survival of their own communities was tied to the continuation of a war as local boys and men continued to fight and dig for yards back home?

If the Valleys were subject to abandonment and social neglect in the decades that followed, by the end of the Eighties and the defeat of the miners, it was clear the industrious way of life which once sustained these communities had been largely destroyed. Port Talbot was in many ways an exception to this, though it should be added that many of its workers were descendants of miners from nearby collieries and still tried to carry the socialist spirit of defiance, which was somewhat captured in Michael Sheen’s The Way.

Abjection would soon become a defining term, which could be routinely applied across the entire coal-face region. The figure of the hardened miner was replaced by the steroid-using gym worker, a grim contrast to the emaciated bodies seeking quiet refuge as they administered heroin into their dejected veins. Stories started to become more commonplace about adults and even teenagers taking their own lives. Soon we all knew of somebody who could no longer face the reality of an abandoned world. Like most things in the Valleys, the more time passes, the greater the problem becomes. And the realisation these towns were facing a suicide epidemic captured international media attention in 2008, as the tragic loss of so many young teens in quick succession within a 10-mile radius of Bridgend led many to question the causes and possible solutions.

Government statistics continue to document rising numbers of suicide, with Wales home to the highest percentage of any region in the United Kingdom. While the most convenient explanation for this often focuses upon the mental health of the afflicted, and invariably advocates more therapy and intervention at an individual level, less attention has been given to the idea that depression should first and foremost be seen as a social phenomenon — that is also inseparable from the lived conditions, the ecologies and atmospheres, into which a community is thrown.

Having said this, what is also peculiar about the Valleys is how the exponential rise in suicide corresponds to the regreening of the landscape, posing a direct challenge to those who primarily correlate wellbeing with environmental recovery. Recovery means nothing if people feel like they have no value or purpose to their existence, regardless of how many daffodils are growing.

“Recovery means nothing if people feel like they have no value.”

While suicides among young girls (as in Bridgend) have become a growing problem — indeed I have lost two cousins this way — it is the vast rise in young male suicides that registers as the most pressing of concerns. Again, while there are many explanations offered for this, given how the figures compare to other social groups (notably black and Asian), surely such a phenomenon can only be properly explained by attending to the crisis of white male subjectivity.

Today, what we look upon are social systems in which young white men are struggling to find any meaning let alone political agency. As other groups are being encouraged to find a sense of purpose and belonging through a shared sense of historical outrage, such an identity has been denied them. The same men have also been thrown into a cultural milieu in which they are being asked to embrace their vulnerabilities, while stripping them of the very qualities of passion and fight that might allow them to deal with difficult times. Should they have the gall to question the status quo, often they are accused of exhibiting white male fragility, which is a rather peculiar way of defaulting back to a desired framing of brokenness.

Because people are not born vulnerable. Systems produce them that way. And if there is a violence to speak of today in places like the Valleys, it’s not one of masculine hardness — it’s a violence of the vulnerable.

Young white men are continually being told they should aspire to whatever the new digital world has to offer, knowing full well to be born in the Valleys means the chances of escape are less with each rotation of the clock. This reminds of how static the empty time of social depression can truly be. Yet still some have the temerity to call them privileged. If such a word has any meaning, it should be linked to the luxury of time — or to properly separate those who inhabit a dead time that has no prospect versus those with the luxury of time to fire off social-media missives, day after day, without it having any impact on their material welfare.

Back in Port Talbot, meanwhile, as the spring rains fall and the furnaces that give life to the town are slowly doused, it’s hard not to be pessimistic. If a century of mass industrial closure has seen very little to replace it, the speeding up of automation and artificial intelligence promises to leave farther behind those who weren’t even at the starting line to begin with. Faced with these conditions of social depression, should we be surprised when desperate young men try to find a lasting way out? I know personally what it’s like to live through seasons marked by the weight of absence. It’s suffocating. It’s debilitating. And it’s soul-destroying.

***

You can call Samaritans for free on 116 123, email them at jo@samaritans.org, or visit www.samaritans.org to find your nearest branch.

Professor Brad Evans holds a Chair in Political Violence & Aesthetics at the University of Bath. His book, How Black Was My Valley: Poverty and Abandonment in a Post-Industrial Heartland, is out in April.


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M Kernan
M Kernan
3 months ago

Brilliant, righteous anger. I have a feeling a reckoning is coming, and it won’t be pretty. I hope I am wrong, but i understand its roots. Too many have been left behind and more and more will sink into further debilitating oblivion. They know they are not needed in our shiny new future, our post post industrial dystopia coming around the corner.

J Bryant
J Bryant
3 months ago
Reply to  M Kernan

I have a feeling a reckoning is coming, and it won’t be pretty.
Much as we might like to believe your comment, I’m not sure it’s true. The working class have been disparaged and demonized for twenty years or more. Certainly since the time of Biden as Obama’s VP, and Hillary Clinton as contender for the US presidency. More generally, misandry is ingrained in Western culture and even Unherd, which purports to be a venue for unpopular opinions, almost never publishes an article highlighting societal prejudice against men, especially working class men.
So where’s the “reckoning”? Where’s the righteous reaction? It hasn’t happened, and I’d argue it’s not going to happen anytime soon. As we’re constantly told, all major societal institutions have been captured by the progressive left which, among other things, vilifies men and the white working class. In the UK, you’ve discovered that your major political parties are, in fact, facets of a uniparty. They stand for almost the same thing and there’s no effective political opposition.
If the traditional working class, overlooked and derided, want to be heard, nothing short of a true revolution will achieve that goal, and I doubt there’s enough solidarity left among the working class to organize a revolution.

M Kernan
M Kernan
3 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Yes, and you may right too that people are so ground down that they have no fight left in them. I wasn’t thinking just terms of identity categories either, plenty others ground down also. It is more a class phenomenon than cultural. The peurile identity politics schtick is obviously just the elites grafting on faux progessivism onto their greedy project of funneling all available resources and capital up to themselves.

Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
3 months ago
Reply to  M Kernan

What does it mean to be “so ground down they have no fight left in them?” The question is a terrible one; whether the struggle to live is even worth it; whether it’s better not to be than to be. Why does it come down to such a question? We run around, in something of a panic, in search of identity, clinging with desperation to the miracle of “transition.” Why all of a sudden will only a miracle do? What do we lack?

Duane M
Duane M
3 months ago

What do we lack? Genuine community. Not the fake community of social media.
And once the genuine community, manifested in the form of robust churches, stable families with lots of relatives nearby for support, and job opportunities that would allow the young to remain and thrive in that environment — once that community is lost, it is very difficult to recover.
It’s a bit like the topsoil under our feet: with care it will increase over the years, millimeter by millimeter, providing a basis for living plants and the animals that are supported by them. But harsh exploitation of the ground leads to loss of the topsoil and erosion down to the barren clay. Yes, it can be restored, but restoration takes much longer than it took to destroy it.
Materialism has drained our human communities as well as our natural resources.

Susie Bell
Susie Bell
3 months ago

The amorphous lefty blob have hog tied us. If we are white we are racist imperialists, if we are men we are privileged rapists, if we are working class we are unspeakable gammons, if we run small businesses we are greedy bastards. We have no right to protest our lot, we are privileged throw backs who should be jailed for thought crimes and hate speech.

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
3 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

It is true that depression – both economic and psychological – induces passivity but history suggests that given the slightest grounds for hope this passivity can evaporate and be replaced by real determination. We saw it during both the Scottish and BREXIT referendums. In both cases, it was the (largely misguided) hope that independence would lead to a real difference to the economic prospects of marooned individuals that produced new unexpected support. Salmond and Farage may not have delivered but, in America, Trump – for a while – actually produced rising wages to his MAGA base via protectionism against Chinese goods and other measures. Hence the resilience of his current support. Unless Westminster and Whitehall work out how to improve the economic lot of the old industrial towns and the under 30s in the U.K. then sooner or later another populist politician will sweep this ancien regime away – and probably by someone worse than Trump. Vesuvius was “passive” until it erupted.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Vesuvius was ‘dormant’ before it erupted.

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
3 months ago

True but it suited my argument better to use another term. Alternatively, you could regard the South Welsh as dormant.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Their Rugby team most certainly are.

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
3 months ago

It was a rather dismal campaign by the Welsh this year. Sadly, Scotland fared little better.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago

But Italy put on a splendid performance, and seem to be improving year on year.

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
3 months ago

Vesuvius didn’t have a smart phone

P N
P N
3 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Rising wages through protectionism is counterproductive. It makes us all poorer not richer, even those with rising wages. Tariffs on imports makes those goods more expensive for consumers and it alleviates price competition from domestic producers. Any domestic industry which relies on imports also suffers from higher costs. There’s no point in rising wages if the pound in your pocket buys less stuff.
This is well known.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
3 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Wales needs a Trump.

MJ Reid
MJ Reid
3 months ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Scotland will gladly hand him over on his next visit. And Wales will want to hand him right back! Trump knows as much about “saving communities” as he does the geography of Scotland. His mother was born in the Outer Hebrides which is a world and language away from the Menie Estate!

Deb Grant
Deb Grant
3 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Government can’t do it for us. The people themselves have to. The framework for business and personal development can be helped by Government, but the effort has to come from everyone.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
3 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

But can you even point me to a full-scale popular revolt that ended well for anyone but the post-purge elites? How could you combat the excesses of Progressivism with a workers’ revolution?
John Adams wrote that about one-third of Americans supported the Revolution, one-third were Loyalists, and one-third neutral. Few but major landowners had much direct say, so it’d be hard to call it a grass roots movement. And residents of the early United states had an ocean to separate them from most of the former countrymen they’d just fought.
Assuming it could be orchestrated and achieved: What would a “righteous reckoning” look like for you?

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
3 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Good point. I used to be a historian and I struggle to come up with any instance where the immediate effects were positive. Perhaps the Swiss revolt against the Hapsburgs in 1291?

if, however, one takes a longer view I suspect most Americans would take the view that – after a couple of bumpy decades – the American Revolution delivered. One could quote other longer term examples.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
3 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

As a U.S. resident and citizen born in Canada, I accept that as fair too.
Of course the Declaration of Independence gives this nod to the History it is making and breaking:

Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

And while it’s possible to reduce their numbers or even remove them for a time at great human cost, the neighbors you despise and strangers you fear cannot be kept away forever.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

HABSBURG.

Duane M
Duane M
3 months ago

Are you habbier now?

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Duane M

For a ‘former’ historian that was a surprising mistake was it not?

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
3 months ago


 but not for a dyslexic.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
3 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

*first reply posted

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
3 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

I don’t believe revolutions are something that will happen in the future. Like the trucker revolt in Canada, the oligarchs in charge will simply squash the revolt by immediately taking their assets away electronically. And cancelling their internet and cellular connections to prevent them from having any voice and connection. Wait until currency ceases to exist. Perhaps other forms of payment will spring up, but for the most part, we are doomed, and they know it, which is why they have become more brazen lately.

Mary Bruels
Mary Bruels
3 months ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

China is vehemently opposed to usage of bitcoin because that can’t be traced. Perhaps we should all begin to use bitcoin.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
3 months ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

How have previous declarations concerning the End Of History fared, historically speaking?
Believing in the certainty of doom is often a form of self-exoneration or abdication of moral duty. The estranged twin of believing in the certainty of Progress.

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
3 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

What about the English Civil War? It put Parliament in charge and dispensed with absolute monarchy. I’ve got this theory that the US war of independence was round 2 of the English Civil War.

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
3 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

I am not sure that Cromwell was remembered as an improvement on Charles I especially in Scotland and Ireland. Nor was a Lord Protector noticeably less absolute than a King.

I think you are right that the American Revolution was ECW 2. I have heard the slightly facetious argument that the key difference was that, unlike Cromwell, Washington had no sons and therefore found it easier to resist those officers who suggested he should become not President but monarch.

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
3 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Agree with you regarding Cromwell – I guess what I was saying was that in the long run the changes instigated by the Civil War were a positive thing for the nation although the terrible destruction was hardly a good thing.
Part of me thinks that the problems we have currently with our political system have something to do with the possibility that the 1649/1688 settlement is no longer working in some way.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

I think part of the reason for the ECW was that the Stuarts in comparison to Elizabeth I were vain , spineleless and incompetent .
After the success of the 7 Years War The British Government were hopeless and the Americans had much support from Non Conformist Manufacturers. Most of th original demands such as representation in the House of Commons were perfectly reasonable but the government was utterly hopeless.
The basis of rule by English monarchs since Anglo Saxon times was consulation and consent. Where this occurs one ends up with the success of The Parliament of 1295 and Edward III and Elizabth , where ignored John and Charles I.

Susie Bell
Susie Bell
3 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

The National Socialists in Germany were doing okay until they overreached themselves

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
3 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Hopefully the slow process of overthrowing our parasitic governing class will begin with the decimation of the Tories in the coming election.

J Dunne
J Dunne
3 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

.. .To be replaced by a Labour government with a majority of female MPs, nearly all of whom are feminists. Life for young men will get worse, not better.

Expect even more rhetoric and policy addressing supposed male toxicity, while fanatically obsessing over female victimhood as the greatest issue of our time.

MJ Reid
MJ Reid
3 months ago
Reply to  J Dunne

Misogyny is not a good look, you know…

P N
P N
3 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

You do realise Labour runs Wales?

Alison Wren
Alison Wren
3 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Labour is haemorrhaging thousands of women’s votes-women who until recently did a LOT of work leafleting etc before an election. Many of us will never vote Labour again because of their betrayal. We reserve our worst ire for the so-called feminists who have agreed to put the interests of deluded males first. I’m not sure I can vote Conservative but a spoiled ballot seems the best I can do this time.

M Harries
M Harries
3 months ago
Reply to  Alison Wren

Agree. Pity help any Labour canvassers calling at my door. I want an abject apology on one knee from Starmer for what Labour has done to Rosie Duffield.

Susie Bell
Susie Bell
3 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Only any good if that is followed by the demise of the Labour lot

Alison Tyler
Alison Tyler
3 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

and even Unherd, which purports to be a venue for unpopular opinions, almost never publishes an article highlighting societal prejudice against men, especially working class men.”
Sadly true.

MJ Reid
MJ Reid
3 months ago
Reply to  Alison Tyler

How many have written such articles? Or is this a bleat from the lazy…

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
3 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

The article was much broader than that, but yes it is a concern that working class men are being abandoned, especially white working class ones.

AC Harper
AC Harper
3 months ago
Reply to  M Kernan

You could make an argument that just enough benefits are being paid out to take the edge off righteous anger. Quite deliberately so.
For the purposes of clarification I’m not saying that benefits should be reduced or that creation of new opportunities is not important. But it is difficult to raise up people who have been beaten down – so it is important to look at the problems clearly rather than mouth some ideology (left or right).

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
3 months ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Amen.

ian Jeffcott
ian Jeffcott
3 months ago
Reply to  M Kernan

The Valleys all voted for the brain dead socialism of Welsh Labour to run devolved Wales. Born Guessing will be no different to the last Dear Leader and the Valleys will still vote Labour in 2026

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 months ago
Reply to  M Kernan

I hope any reckoning is ugly, really ugly

Stuart Barstow
Stuart Barstow
3 months ago
Reply to  M Kernan

Who will it be against ?

Norfolk Sceptic
Norfolk Sceptic
3 months ago
Reply to  Stuart Barstow

In Europe, wealth creation is faltering, because access to cheap fuel isn’t what it was. For example, German chemical companies are moving their factories to cheaper climbs, like the US, and they used to be the power house that propelled the EU. And this will have a knock on further down the chain, which will be added to the likely position of having to try harder paying back some of our debt quicker than in the past.
And it looks as though the dysfunctional political bubble haven’t even noticed yet. And when they do, they won’t understand the problem, and will likely create another NET Zero catastrophe to deal with it. That policy is wasting so much wealth, as well as people’s enthusiasm and time, and it’s not as though we have too much of any of them.
The question will be whether all those with preferences for the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, that inhabit so many positions of influence, will allow the Natural Sciences, Engineering and skilled crafts to flourish in the educational establishments, in Commerce and give it support in the Media. It’s why the Rest of the World economy has the momentum: they do.

James Bond
James Bond
3 months ago
Reply to  M Kernan

If the plebs had guns like the Americans do I’m guessing the will to revolt would be much stronger. The ‘woke’ media would misdirect their hatred against foreigners instead of the 1%

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
3 months ago

How wrong were the luddites?

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
3 months ago
Reply to  Peter Lee

I’m guessing your answer would be “not very” or “not at all”?. I think their anti-industrial vandalism was understandable–but how right is an ostrich who puts his head in the sand during a time of horror?
When extremes are countered with extremes, survivors may have to search for traces of remaining middle ground, underneath bodies, in bloody morning(s) after. What do you think?

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
3 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

My actual answer is ‘very’ and ‘completely’. These changing environments need to be embraced and recognised as creating new opportunities.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Peter Lee

We had the gallows in those days as quite a few of them found out.

Dennis Roberts
Dennis Roberts
3 months ago

The gallows or starvation were the choices open to them. Not a great choice to have.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
3 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

Too true. Except some left farming and became laborers–or perhaps tradesmen–in towns and cities.
Many of my Irish ancestors left their homeland to escape the threat of starvation. An extreme measure, but better than starvation or the gallows.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

There was a third option: Transportation.

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
3 months ago

This is all conventional educated-class Narrative.
Whatabout rural Wales before the Industrial Revolution? Everything fine? Or waste population being shipped off to North America?
I wonder how Welsh wages did in WWI when coal and iron were needed to grow poppies in Flanders fields.
If German reparations hurt the workers because Versailles, then the man to blame is President Wilson and all the other dumb politicians that wrecked Germany and ploughed the ground for Hitler.
You don’t mention deflation after WWI. Workers hate deflation; it prompts them to join unions.
You don’t mention whether government and/or unions have made a blind bit of difference to the workers over the last 100 years.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
3 months ago

I am struggling to understand the particular point of your comment. You don’t argue against any of the points in the article. The article doesn’t actually provide easy solutions, but then neither do you but just perhaps a slightly different list of things to blame.

Britain had a problem with major heavy industries being concentrated in certain locations (for obvious reasons) with the result that when those in become economically unsustainable it was very difficult to replace that sense of meaning in men’s lives and provide the same wage packets. We could even add the concept of “political unsustainably”. Burning coal produces a lot of CO2 and the political elites today wish to pursue Net Zero policies (however misguidedly). I would say the huge decline in direct working class representation in the Labour Party has made this a much greater problem than it might have been otherwise.

As for trade unions, they always certainly made a big improvement for workers in the short term, at least in the predictability of their income, but in the long run of course can’t demand high wages in an uneconomic industry indefinitely.

Norfolk Sceptic
Norfolk Sceptic
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Heavy industry becomes unsustainable when there is a need for updated machinery, to keep up with the competition, but the traditional working practices are sacrosanct.

Leonel SIlva Rocha
Leonel SIlva Rocha
3 months ago

President Wilson was an utter disgrace. In this issue and many fundamental others. One of the worst in US history…

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 months ago

What reduces deaths at work is technology. Miners lamps stop fire and explosions; steam ships are safer than steam ships; containers reduce death in docks, Tunnelling machines reduce death of tunnellers from collapse, gas and drowning, etc. today according to USA Labour Stats, commercial forestry, commercial fishing and mining are larger cause of death than being in armed forces and/or Police.
Office work causes hardly any deaths. Working in the higly frcatured and faulted British coal seams pre mid 20 th century caused many deaths. Long wall mining and hydraulic rams to support roofs reduced deaths.

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
3 months ago

Outstanding piece. UH has done a few of these local essays. One learns more from one well written and grounded regional study like this – whether of a depressed or cheerful area – than a hundred articles recycling variants of metropolitan conventional wisdom. More please.

Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
3 months ago

The narrative here is a bit selective. Not mentioned are the collapse of religious observance, chaotic family structures, the child sexual abuse so often a feature of chaotic family structures, and an education system as bad as only decades of Welsh Labour Party dominance of local and regional government could make it. Coal mining and steel making were horrible jobs, and Wales would be and probably is better off with different industries. But if the political culture is inimical to enterprise and learning, better industries will not emerge. The decline of Methodism, music, worker education and rugby in south Wales are all part of the same story. Coal mining in itself is nothing to mourn: it is only emblematic of a broader malaise.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
3 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

You want prosperity? Simple: cut the taxes on small businesses, which nowadays provide 65% of all employment, and remove the regulatory barriers that prevent their growth. Increase the tax on unearned property wealth instead.

It’s a fair bet that, under Labour, what we’ll get is the exact opposite. Let’s not forget it was a Labour government that broke the link between housing costs and interest rate policy, giving us the largest upward transfer of wealth in history.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

For which I for one am eternally grateful.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
3 months ago

You may be grateful now. But eternally? Don’t think so.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Perhaps!
But from 1066 to now, so mustn’t grumble.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
3 months ago

You got yours, pull up the gangplank.

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
3 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

I always thought QE was the largest upward transfer of wealth in history and that happened under all administrations.

Deb Grant
Deb Grant
3 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Sustained low mortgage rates for the last 15 years or so also is a pretty big transfer of wealth from older savers to younger mortgage holders.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
3 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

That was billions. Property wealth overall acquired as a result of bad fiscal and monetary policy runs to trillions

Lizzie J
Lizzie J
3 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Cutting regulation would help too. The weight of form filling and risk management is enough to sink any small business’s aspiration to grow.

Deb Grant
Deb Grant
3 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

What is unearned wealth, exactly?

Is that the one where, born in London, we paid higher prices for everything, including housing and higher interest rate mortgages, worked very long hours, faced long commutes to cheaper areas, maintained and improved our houses and gardens and have already started helping younger family members? Or is it the already taxed, earned money we risked by investing in pensions, start-ups, and capitalising the development of other businesses to pay for retirement and nursing home care in our old age.

And then, in my case, there’s over 25 years of voluntary work. Yes, that’s time and expertise provided free. For many others it’s the provision of free childcare.

And you think taxing industrious, responsible people even more will increase the numbers of industrious, responsible citizens prepared to go the extra mile? That assumption needs a reality check. Where would the incentive lie?

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
3 months ago
Reply to  Deb Grant

What is unearned wealth, exactly?

It’s wealth you acquired thanks purely to bad fiscal and monetary policy and not because you did anything to merit it.

And you think taxing industrious, responsible people even more will increase the numbers of industrious, responsible citizens prepared to go the extra mile?

ï»żUnearned property wealth is itself a tax on industrious, responsible people.

Steve White
Steve White
3 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

I’m just wondering if our online censoring masters are going to declare it to be “fake news” or “misinformation” or “hate speech” to point decline or misery out. If they mandate smiles on our faces then we will all become criminals unless we agree with the desired narrative. I can only assume that our being able to say the truth about what is going on under our noses right now must at this point somehow be useful to them. 

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
3 months ago
Reply to  Steve White

The boot stamping on the human face forever has arrived.

Karen Jemmett
Karen Jemmett
3 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

I live by the sea in Devon and remember how few opportunities there were for young people when I left college in the late 70s. Indeed, I remember the wisdom from our teachers at the time was to quit my A Levels, do a secretarial course and go to London, which I promptly did. Of course, today, any escape route out of our own cultural milieu has been closed to the offspring of working class parents. I hear there are lots of depressed kids, many of whom are the offspring of hoteliers and small business people – probably because the thought of following their parents into service-related occupations fills them with dread, lol. I don’t think it’s an issue that is exclusive to Wales, to be fair. I always tell them that they should think how comparatively depressing it would be growing up in the Sudan with no prospects or even the compensation of limit free broadband and Deliveroos. Wasn’t it the Irish author Frank McCourt who once said “your mind is a palace”. Perhaps they should strive to develop themselves intellectually to be the best human-beings they can and be thankful they won’t be toiling in coalmines or blast furnesses for 12 hour shifts and have the freedom to do what the hell they want? It’s all about adopting a positive perspective and not being oppressed by the old regime…

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
3 months ago
Reply to  Karen Jemmett

Right, like the song put it “Let a smile be your umbrella…”

Anders Wallin
Anders Wallin
3 months ago
Reply to  Karen Jemmett

someone in a privileged state telling someone in a less privileged state to be happy they aint in an even less privileged state
 not a very good idea.

Andrew Boughton
Andrew Boughton
3 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

Have to pay that.

John Riordan
John Riordan
3 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

I suspect you may be to some extent conflating cause and effect.

While the other trends you describe are real, they would be manageable in a local economy with decent employment, even the historically tough coal and steel industries. Nothing wrecks a community faster than mass unemployment: it is the single worst thing that can happen.

Stuart Maister
Stuart Maister
3 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

The sad thing for me is the increased dependence on taxes from the south of England among all of the regions of the UK. I always strongly believed in real devolution of power so that regions and nations could properly take responsibility for themselves, run policies based on their needs and be powerhouses.
In fact all that’s happened is that we’ve created bureaucracies that blame London for everything while putting their hands out ever further for subsidy. And run their regions as personal fiefdoms badly. See Scotland.
This is a whinge not a solution from a frustrated devolver of power.

Ivan T
Ivan T
3 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

Mostly fair points, but I don’t think it’s unfair to assume that much of the loss of religious observance, the chaotic family structures and decline of the former communitarian activities you describe, could be ascribed to the despair arising from mass unemployment. There certainly has to be some degree of causation there.

Rob Mort
Rob Mort
3 months ago
Reply to  Ivan T

We live in a post post post post modern world mate..don’t mention the Christian’s…

edmond van ammers
edmond van ammers
3 months ago

Maybe there is another way of looking at the issue.
Poverty and depravation is even worse in countries where ‘illegal’ migrants come from. Mostly young men make a decision to leave home to a faraway land, go through a horrendous and lengthy journey, fight the visa lottery, and then find work in the UK, legal or not.
Compared to which, seems it would be much easier for young Welsh people to leave home and look for work

Peter B
Peter B
3 months ago

It’s curious. But perhaps not so surprising. The income gap between Eastern Europe around 2008 and England was so large and the alternatives at home so limited that the gain:pain ratio to leave home and migrate to England was pretty favourable. I’m guessing that ratio isn’t quite high enough for most in the South Wales valleys (even if it is over 1). There are also cultural factors here – if it’s normal to migrate for a better life, more people do it. And moving to England from Poland probably doesn’t make you feel less Polish in a way that going from Wales to England perhaps might.
Yes, moving would be the rational thing. But I’m not convinced we’d all do that placed in the same situation.
We really need to make these people proud and successful where they are. As indeed they were in the past. So it’s possible.

Bruce Smith
Bruce Smith
3 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

We live in Wales. My wife was recently told by an Afghan doctor that Wales was a Third World country. He went on to say: “we have far better hospitals in Afghanistan.”
What a comedown. What a disaster.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
3 months ago
Reply to  Bruce Smith

Maybe we’ll see droves of Welsh migrating to Afghanistan?

Brian Doyle
Brian Doyle
3 months ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

No chance especially if any association with The Welsh Guards
As The Taliban would settle old scores in a manner that not only know how to but most certainly in a manner entirely to their liking
That Butcher’s apron in the form of a Union Jack is only a red rag to The Taliban bull

Mary Bruels
Mary Bruels
3 months ago
Reply to  Bruce Smith

Not sure I would believe him coming from a country that severely restricts medical care to women.

Leonel SIlva Rocha
Leonel SIlva Rocha
3 months ago
Reply to  Bruce Smith

“we have far better hospitals in Afghanistan.” What utter tosh! Perhaps he also believes in Santa Claus and Unicorns? If Afghanistan is so wonderful, what is that doctor doing in Wales? Methinks he’s full of crap.

Brian Doyle
Brian Doyle
3 months ago
Reply to  Bruce Smith

Well said and as I have a property in Spain and that my wife requires special assistance at Airports and boarding Flights
Here a 100% accurate account we witnessed prior to 3 weeks to our return flight My wife and I were out for a meal seated adjacent to a English speaking elderly couple
We could not avoid bearing witness as to what happened next in that the Elderly lady started to complain to her Husband that she was feeling unwell and continued to do so that The Husband said I am going to call for a Ambulance upon which his wife said please don’t
However the waitress serving who also spoke English was observing all this and unbeknown she conveyed her concerns to the Restaurant Owner who immediately came out and asked the Couple what was wrong his command of English was very good and after a few minutes of Questions and assessment he said I now calling a ambulance The Husband immediately objected upon which the Restaurant Owner replied in no uncertain terms that he had witnessed before such symptoms that His wife was expierenceing
And that he considered that urgent
Medical Attention was required
He called by way of his mobile all in Spanish
Kid you not the ambulance and a paramedic arrived in less than 5 mins
Due careful assessment was made and relevant actions taken before the Lady was taken into the ambulance but did not depart for a few minutes and only done so once a Doctor arrived and boarded the Ambulance
Well we thought that’s the end of that and we shall never know what the outcome would be
Well at the return flight home Low and Behold their was the Elderly couple with the wife in a wheelchair
For assisted boarding lounge
All as my Myself and Wife were
I obviously enquired of the couple saying that we were seated adjacent to them at the evening she took unwell
Here basically was their reply
My wife was having a stroke and upon arrival at the nearest hospital
She was immediately attended to
And a Consultant was called
Who quickly assessed what was wrong and told them I shall be back in a few minutes
Upon the Consultant,s returning he informed them he had called another
Ambulance which also he would be accompanying them to Another hospital 20 Mins away as this facility had all the latest medical equipment and the qualified personnel to deal with what was happening
So I enquired respectfully as to why his wife appeared to actually appear to be quite well and no major effects of the Stroke being obvious
His reply although her mobility slightly impaired and only very minor
Speech problems that The 2nd hospital consultant cleared her as ok to return home at what turned out to the last appointment with the Hospital consultant and just before departing company
The consultant said firstly you do not
Realise how lucky you were in that the Restaurant Owner acted immediately
Then went on to say I was a Stroke consultant in the UK for almost 7 yrs
And only returned to Spain due the awful state your NHS is in and no solution in sight 5 months ago to Spain
And I assure you that if this stroke occurred in the UK I in no doubt given the severity of the stroke you were expierenceing that if not now a Cabbage you would be dead
You are so fortunate this happened in Spain where all was more than adequate to deal with and treat you properly in such a fast manner
Saying that with the severity of your stroke that it’s very important that proper response and treatment is enacted within a 4 HR time frame
And that’s something that in your NHS highly unlikely that all would have been dealt within that timeframe and that’s exactly why I am standing here in front of you here in Spain
And not still employed and standing
In the UK NHS

Over to deluded Little Englander,s now

El Uro
El Uro
3 months ago
Reply to  Bruce Smith

Do you believe him?
Although, if he came from an elite area of Kabul, it is quite possible, but I would ask him how often he visited hospitals outside Kabul and why he left Kabul.

J Dunne
J Dunne
3 months ago

“Today, what we look upon are social systems in which young white men are struggling to find any meaning let alone political agency. As other groups are being encouraged to find a sense of purpose and belonging through a shared sense of historical outrage, such an identity has been denied them. The same men have also been thrown into a cultural milieu in which they are being asked to embrace their vulnerabilities, while stripping them of the very qualities of passion and fight that might allow them to deal with difficult times. Should they have the gall to question the status quo, often they are accused of exhibiting white male fragility, which is a rather peculiar way of defaulting back to a desired framing of brokenness.”

An excellent paragraph in a brilliant article.

The modern treatment of young white men – whose great grandads were bullied into giving their lives for this country little over a hundred years ago – is utterly disgusting. It makes me despise the British establishment and mainstream media more than I have ever hated anything.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  J Dunne

Presumably then you are NOT a fan of Sir Winston Spencer Churchill KG?

J Dunne
J Dunne
3 months ago

I assume you are referring to Gallipoli.

My point is much more about the wider issue regarding the way the working class men of this country have been treated with utter contempt by the ruling classes, both then and now.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  J Dunne

Much more than Gallipoli I’m afraid.

May I suggest the late Clive Ponting’s work on the subject?

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
3 months ago

Prince Philip had the measure of Ponting.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
3 months ago
Reply to  J Dunne

…and since time immemorial.

P N
P N
3 months ago
Reply to  J Dunne

They weren’t bullied into giving up their lives by the establishment or the ruling classes a little over a hundred years ago. People joined up in droves, cheered on by their elders and women.
The consequences of having a population unwilling to fight was brutally exposed by Hitler less than 25 years later, particularly for the French.
Your hatred is misplaced. I feel sorry for you.

J Dunne
J Dunne
3 months ago
Reply to  P N

Kitchener’s campaign, combined with the weaponisation of female shaming via the White Feather Movement were definitely a form of bullying.

And the reason men signed up in their droves was a combination of said bullying and a complete absence of an economic alternative. Mass unemployment was a great recruitment tool.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago

Surely this problem is to be found everywhere behind the ‘Red Wall’, and is particularly bad in Scotland?

Nothing will change until the emergence of someone like the late Oliver Cromwell, which is most unlikely as the ‘gentry’ are quite content. The UK just doesn’t do Robespierre.

However it is worth recalling that the IRA came within a whisker of executing the most momentous assassination of the 20th century bar none, when they blew up the The Grand Hotel in Brighton in the 1980’s.

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
3 months ago

It is – but surely this means that the “Red Wall vote” remains a potentially potent vote if another politician emerges who can stir it from its current passive or dormant state?

Whatever his faults, what Boris tried to do – add a working class base to the existing elderly and prosperous south eastern Tory voters – was sensible. It was the equivalent to what Trump has done in America and Disraeli did in Britain in the 1870s. Unfortunately for them, most Tory MPs could not grasp the point.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Agreed, one of the great tragedies of modern history, and mostly due to the appalling response to the Covid Scamdemic it must be said.

Even Aeschylus or Euripides couldn’t have done better.

Brian Doyle
Brian Doyle
3 months ago

Care to explain ” and is particularly bad in Scotland ”
Be very very very careful with you reply
That’s if you actually capable of a thought out response

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Brian Doyle

Here you are you insolent toad, but surely you must know this?:-

“Data from Police Scotland has shown a 10 per cent rise in suspected drug deaths, with 1,197 reported for 2023 compared to 1,092 in 2022. The figure for under 25s is almost unchanged between the two years, with 54 in 2023 compared to 55 in 2022.“

A least the under 25’s seem to have plateaued out.

Brian Doyle
Brian Doyle
3 months ago

Oh thanks you were warned
The vast majority of drug related deaths in Scotland have been irrefutably confirmed by Academic research that such all began with The Thatcher years and the Deindustrialization of Scotland’s heavy industries without a plan in place to deal with other than one of abandonment all as it was so for S.Wales and by far the highest % of deaths are in the Over 50,s and those deaths in the lower age groups can be strongly linked to
Those Thatcher years
As always I ask Go do your research
Before you wag that forked nefarious
Tongue if not what spews out is Coital Bovine Scatology and always proven so by way of Facts as opposed to clutching at the straws of
Of yes factual information carefully selected by your type without taking the lid off the jar you have opened
To ascertain the actual contents of such jar
Simples my dear fellow What is the root cause of these terrible deaths
The deaths are the effects
And no effect shall ever arise that did
Not a have a cause
And no cause shall ever arise that does not have a effect
Once more the so called educated
Inadvertently jump into The Pool of Wisdom usually not equipped with floating aids and completely lacking the ability to Swim far less navigate in the infinite waters of the Pool of Wisdom
It is the norm that those who are drowning clutch at straws
Warned you to apply care
You most welcome to have another strike

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Brian Doyle

Have you been drinking?

Brian Doyle
Brian Doyle
3 months ago

Has your level of responses sunk to such pathetic levels
Once more I ask come back only with well researched , irrefutable facts as presented by way of proper renowned Academic experts in the field of matters to which reference is being made
Consider you and all your kind as being a old Bear in terminal decline
But deluded by it’s days of power and abilities ( akin to England)
But now not driven by insatiable greed and now one of Need
Well such bears are easily dealt with
By way of understanding your former power and the impending demise that imminently awaits you
Along with the all too obvious trails you leave behind in your desperate search for sustenance
All so easy to bait you with ‘ A large pot of honey ‘ to which your failing offaculltary glands can still detect
And induces a immediate response
To enable your desperate needs for the sustenance you so desperately require
But the Bear by Nature is stupid completely unaware that in the path it now blunders along has a camouflaged Gin Trap set at a very short distance from the honey pot
Work it how you so easily to bait and trap

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Brian Doyle

Is that a YES?

M James
M James
3 months ago
Reply to  Brian Doyle

“Be very very very careful with you [sic] reply”

Regardless of the response, thought out or not, there’s no need or reason for the veiled threat implicit in this language towards another poster.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  M James

Thank you.

Andrew H
Andrew H
3 months ago

Thanks for this – beautifully written and moving. I was pleased to see the evisceration of the sickening term “white fragility”.

Greg Morrison
Greg Morrison
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew H

Totally agree. What a great article. I’m an Englishman who moved to the Rhondda 11 years ago, and have lived elsewhere in South Wales for the last 5 years. Superb article, well done Brad Evans for highlighting the economic and social plight of this region.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew H

I grew up in south Wales during more prosperous times. Maybe, prosperous at others’ expense during the 70s the Port Talbot was losing a fortune. Through my rose tinted spectacles I see positive force in education, I see cultural, practical and scientific societies (music, railway modelling and astronomy, were ones I attended). Do these things still exist? We were far from wealthy but we were okay.
It seems to me much tougher now. I grew up near Bridgend, a prosperous little town in the 70s and 80s and always sunny when I went to visit my (then) girlfriend (honest). Bridgend is awful now and I wonder about the young men and women who haven’t done so well at school at what they can do.
And, this is where the term “white fragility” grates so much. If you are broke in one of the valleys town, you are stuck; you can’t afford the bus and it’s too far to walk. I live near Peckham in sarf London; supposedly a place where young black kids have it tough. There’s lots of crime apparently but also lots of jobs to which you can get a cheap bus or walk to. These kids are so much better off than those in Wales (and other places).

Chuck de Batz
Chuck de Batz
3 months ago

I too am from South Wales. I left twenty five years ago, to find a future far across the oceans. But you can never really leave, can you.
Thank you for this essay.

JOHN B
JOHN B
3 months ago

I agree with SW. Also, the authors linchpin statement, “Because people are not born vulnerable” must be the craziest thing I’ve recently read.

Norfolk Sceptic
Norfolk Sceptic
3 months ago
Reply to  JOHN B

Born vulnerable, intelligent but not very knowledgeable, but with plenty of enthusiasm, mostly.

Tharmananthar Shankaradhas
Tharmananthar Shankaradhas
3 months ago

Puzzles me why some communities continue to vote for parties and leaders who cannot lead term to better state.

Steve Farrell
Steve Farrell
3 months ago

I’ve never understood why the former industrial areas of the U.K. were (and continue to be) treated with such spite.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 months ago
Reply to  Steve Farrell

Unions and Labour Politicias consider themselves progressives and internationalists yet completely ignored progress in technology and development of industry in other countries. The development of the Haber Process made the guano deposits of Chile redundant.
Haber process – Wikipedia
By 1914 Britain was having to import dye for uniforms from Germany via Holland.

David Jory
David Jory
3 months ago

One of the most evil parts of the combined woke,progressive globalism is the quiet immiseration of young Europeans and North Americans.
Matt Goodwin has documented well the tide of European populist backlash that has built against this in the last decade.
The elite governments, media and civil services are perplexed and angry as they sit in their righteous bubble with their luxury belief system.

James Bond
James Bond
3 months ago
Reply to  David Jory

Who exactly are the globalists?

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
3 months ago
Reply to  James Bond

He doesn’t actually say who they are, I hope we are not seeing witch hunting ala the Guardian on this site. But surely the WEF has some culpability, and no i am not a C/Theorist.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
3 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

“no i am not a C/Theorist”, well, you would say that, wouldn’t you?

R Wright
R Wright
3 months ago
Reply to  James Bond

He didn’t say globalists, but globalism. To be specific. If you are wondering who the globalists are, they are leading financiers, politicians, NGO executives and businessmen. They tend to meet up publicly on occasion, for example via the Bilderberg Meetings, World Economic Forum and other deliberately dry-sounding meetings. You will have heard of many of their ilk. The Gates’, Soros’, and Strykers of the world. Their organisations like Open Society, Arcus, Tides et al don’t hide their influence, they celebrate it. They don’t call it one world government, but ‘stakeholder capitalism’. Just read their websites. This collection of interests almost entirely operates in the west and those aligned with it. Generally, the third world has its own small sets of power-hungry elites that aim to disentangle themselves from the globalists

While they work in concert, their ‘conspiracy’ is mostly just lots of powerful pushing in the same direction, and not the result of them all actually sitting in a dark room and plotting the exact fate of the world, like some Elder Protocols tier nonsense. It is just a lot of powerful powerful with similar interests funding groups that aim to suppress free speech/dissent and empower multilateral institutions at the expense of those subject to democratic feedback. Did you never wonder why they went so apesh*t over Brexit? It was off-piste. Off menu. It is why they will never actually forgive David Cameron, as much as he may wish it.

William Amos
William Amos
3 months ago
Reply to  James Bond

Rootless capital. Capital disconnected from local obligations and accountability.

David Giles
David Giles
3 months ago

I have nothing profound to add to Brad Evans’ moving analysis, just my own personal story. It is of being sat in the presbytery in St Mary’s Catholic church in Bridgend as next door Fr Bill Isaac listened to the mother of a young man who had killed himself.
“What did I do Father? How could I have been such a bad mother that he would want to kill himself? I didn’t know it was wrong. I’m going to Hell”

You don’t forget hearing that, ever!

J Dunne
J Dunne
3 months ago
Reply to  David Giles

Awful stuff.

Out of interest though, what exactly did she do that was ‘wrong’?

David Giles
David Giles
3 months ago
Reply to  J Dunne

Nothing at all! But try telling that to that poor lady.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
3 months ago
Reply to  David Giles

How on earth can someone downvote this post?

William Amos
William Amos
3 months ago
Reply to  David Giles

A very moving article indeed and your personal anecdote adds to the depth. I wonder if the writer might have ventured an opinion on the decline of church and chapel in that part of Wales and wthether that might be related in some way. It is something one also sees in the more despairing corners of Scotland.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
3 months ago

Blast furnaces have no place in a net zero economy. It is much better for the jobs to go overseas and the same co2 to come from China or India

Brian Doyle
Brian Doyle
3 months ago

Their is no possible sustainable solution to the problems that exist in S.Wales , N.I. , The Red Wall areas of England

Unless Westminster’s governance undergoes a revolution
It is completely and utterly unfit for purpose in the Rapidly evolving seismic changes in matters of Geo Political influence
First past the post voting system is the Albatross around its neck and if not dealt with soon then matters shall be taken out of Westminster hands and the consequential Amplifications that shall
Rapidly arise when such inevitably of those necessary actions emerge
History shall judge that tis Westminster that was indeed Suicidal
Power is never given it can only be Taken

Norfolk Sceptic
Norfolk Sceptic
3 months ago
Reply to  Brian Doyle

The malaise in the UK is present in nearly every European country, apart perhaps from Hungary, and yet they have a very varied methods of choosing their politicians, so I can’t see methods of voting being a deciding factor. One common factor is thinking that all that democracy requires is to vote every four to five years. Another was being able to spread uneducated opinions on TV about very disruptive policy proposals: I’m thinking about celebrities supporting Climate Change policies, while well informed people are prohibited from airing their views, like Nigel Lawson.
There has been so much of Europe’s heavy industry has been in the public sector, where most are oblivious to the necessity of change, yet it is the old industries have needed to change the most. And politicians have so little understanding of Technology. Yes, they can see the finished product, but the underlying Laws of Physics, Chemistry, and how markets work, plays much bigger role in today’s world of business. And do they know that announcing the product and delivery date, before there is a credible plan, is not what Engineers learn in their training? If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
For example, Macron, the French president, didn’t know that the LPG/LNG, bought on the spot market, was five times the price of the gas piped in from Russia.
He knows now! 🙂

El Uro
El Uro
3 months ago

France banned fracking in 2011. Nobody can help idiots

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 months ago

Very god points. The shop stewards of un and semi skilled unions created over manning, resistance to more advanced technology, using less people and strikes pushed up costs and delivery times. Many able craftsmen, foremen, engineers and scientists went oversees where pay was higher and taxes lower.Many of the managers left in the UK were not top rate. It should be noted Germany, USA, Japan and Switzerland have not had a problem of a brain drain. One only has to reduce yeast slightly and the bread will not properly rise.

Leonel SIlva Rocha
Leonel SIlva Rocha
3 months ago
Reply to  Brian Doyle

Inevitability…

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 months ago

If we look at history, say last 3,000 years we can observe rise and fall of technology. The Murex shell produce purple dye and made the Phoenicians very wealthy. They used the money to build ships to import Tin from Cornwall. Bronze needs copper and tin. Copper is common in The Middle East, Tin is not.
The massive open cast coal mines which in the USA were on the Mississippi River and those in Australia connected to the coast by railways made the British deep mined coal expensive. Top mining engineers were leaving the NCB in the mid 1960s because they could see the end.
Expensive coal makes steel expensive. The increase in ship size post 1967 closure of Suez canal due to Six Day War meant merchant ships increased their load to 550,00 T. Type 45 Destroyer weighs about 9000 T the largest tanker have displacement of 82KT which the weight of steel required . There are far more merchant ships than naval vessels. Due to strikes and unwillingness to accept new technology ship building moved to Japan and S Korea, so went demand for steel.
Britain and especially Labour who dominated education since 1945 could have developed a Swiss Technical Education so the workforce could have entered advanced manufacturing. They did not.
The future is simple Under Ground Coal Gasification to produce Methane and Hydrogen and all coal fields to be a Enterprise Zones where companies moving there pay no tax, national insurance, there are no employment laws, business rates, first two years. Government to set up Fraunhofer Institutes( pre WW2 polys – educated engineers of the calibre of J R Mitchell- Spitfire ) to develop R and D. Technical High Schools to be created to teach STEM subjects geared towards Technology and Applied Science. 

Andrew Boughton
Andrew Boughton
3 months ago

What an extraordinary description with a comprehensive historical span.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 months ago

Thank you.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
3 months ago

The keening from job loss grows everywhere you look. It is now Hollywood’s turn as the heavy tread of AI is heard. Movie making as we have known it will go the way of newspapers.

Alison Tyler
Alison Tyler
3 months ago

We are all born potentially vulnerable and should be continually trying to help one another to find meaning, value and self worth, no one owes us anything ,but we should try to offer each other support and help as we never know when we might need it ourselves. Gender, social class and ethnicity and the like are all labels, but in reality we are all people with siminlar needs and frailties.

Mike MacCormack
Mike MacCormack
3 months ago

Literally tragic as this current stuation is – England has been subjugating the Welsh to economic disasters since Norman days so this is just business as usual – I think it’s also fair to say that It’s the UK that’s falling to bits, not just Wales. London will soldier on til the last banker’s last breath, but basically it’s game over. I’ll never understand why the Conservatives call themselves such, they’ve destroyed all our traditional strengths in economic activity, and in the name of free markets they are now destroying all our institutions too.

Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
3 months ago

It hasn’t been about “conserving” for a long time. Just looting.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
3 months ago

Great article thanks, sending it to my Welsh friend, who will be even more angy now.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
3 months ago

“While the most convenient explanation for this often focuses upon the mental health of the afflicted, and invariably advocates more therapy and intervention at an individual level, less attention has been given to the idea that depression should first and foremost be seen as a social phenomenon — that is also inseparable from the lived conditions, the ecologies and atmospheres, into which a community is thrown.”

Absolutely, I did anti- psychiatry on my degree(run by old marxists, and sadly a ex Maoist, how could he?) and they were bang on that structure is just as important as individual conditions /traits, etc.

John Turnbull
John Turnbull
3 months ago

The UK is horribly overcentralised, to a large extent due to its entrenched class system.
The call to reduce taxes comes from the rich who can afford to pay tax. It does not come from those who rely on the state to provide infrastructure, social services, education, policing, etc etc.

Susie Bell
Susie Bell
3 months ago
Reply to  John Turnbull

It’s welfare benefits people are relying on and there should be work for us all

James Kirk
James Kirk
3 months ago

All this social comment debating whichever bit of history set us on course for modern day problems. Always the rear view mirror below the line. It’s tiresome. No government will turn this round overnight especially in this economic climate. There needs to be a massive goad, an impetus. Some parts are already in the dying Phoenix phase. No amount of redistribution of wealth will extinguish the fire. A war or a vicious pandemic, not the rather weedy recent event, might be an answer. Better, some form of cooperative mindset that abandons this mass immigration, this net zero nonsense, this wokery. Dig for coal, burn methane, heat homes with geo thermal and erect wave generators. Frack for energy. Some will fall by the wayside, they already are, sad, but not all need to. From the ashes of defeat, a shining silver bird arising…

James Bond
James Bond
3 months ago
Reply to  James Kirk

As a long-term member of the underclass I personally would like to see voluntary assisted-euthanasia made legal for those who wish to exit this hellscape on mental health grounds. Sadly I can’t see the cowards who rule us agreeing as they always need lots of slaves and scapegoats. As we have a vast problem with social isolation aswell as poverty and mental health in Britain it’d be interesting to see how many would apply. There are much worse things in this world than death.

Victoria xx
Victoria xx
3 months ago

With broadband there is access to opportunity with the right training whatever the location.

Brian Doyle
Brian Doyle
3 months ago
Reply to  Victoria xx

Westminster could not even train a monkey to eat bananas

Susie Bell
Susie Bell
3 months ago

Same story for most of the United Kingdom. Once more a nation lead by donkeys who have fallen for the Emperor’s New Clothes schtick about cheap manufacturing abroad, reliance on invisibles and a ‘service’ economy, which amounts to little more than making sandwiches for each other. A sad state of affairs.

Brian Doyle
Brian Doyle
3 months ago
Reply to  Susie Bell

Yes very close to the truth
But I respectively more remind you and
Quote ‘ Once more a Nation ‘ which you firmly tied to the word United Kingdom
However Nation is deployed in singular
Form
Therefore I request as to which Nation you are referring to that constitutes The United Kingdom
Numerous respondents on here more often than not refer my inept deployment of the English Language
Maybe this time they can enlighten myself as to whether or not that the word Nation is singular or not and how is possible that The United Kingdom constitutes One Nation and One Only
Particularly so as Nation is a singular collective noun and would take a collective verb
If I am correct then Scotland by such definition is NOT a country or a Nation
Which in turn means we Scot’s have no rights whatsoever under the scant constitution of Westminster which concludes Scot’s are not citizen’s but mere subjects to The Crown whose power is invested in Westminster
Despite the legally binding Act of Union
Which contains specific references to Scotland’s Claim of Rights and the absolute untouchable Scottish Law that pertains to this very day and none can alter other than by way of their elected representative,s to Parliament , note the Scottish parliament was not dissolved at the signing of The Act of Union
It’s business was merely transferred to Westminster futhermore England did not sign the Act of Union for over 100 hundred years and only did so under severe duress that if not signed then Scotland would nullify the Act and dissolve the Union
Furthermore more their has only ever been one ammended to The Act and that was when Westminster passed a law that states that their shall be no impediment to the transfer of goods , monies and citizens of The mainland and those of the Island of Ireland
The Brexit deal breaks this by way of Customs checks in the Irish Sea and by default breaks The Act of Union
Never hath Scotland broken any part Whatsoever of This Act

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 months ago
Reply to  Susie Bell

British Istitutions which pursue quality have flourished , those which have not, have perished. Britain cannot compete on price, only on quality but that needs a highly skilled innovative population blessed with fortitude and resolution led by those who have the irrational tenth as T . E Lawrence would say or the Nelson touch ( put telescope to blind eye and say -I see no signal ) . Engineers such as Brindley, Watt, Boultom G and R Stephenson, J R Mitchell, Wedgewood, Arkwright, Whitworth, Chadwick, B Wallis , F Whittle come to mond .
An aicraft industry led by Whittle and Wallis would have outperformed any other. Wallis was designing planes which could fly at 14,000 mph, 270 ft in the 1970s yet could land at 100mph.
Genius recognises talent,mediocrity sees itself and spiteful inadequates poisons genius.

Graeme Laws
Graeme Laws
3 months ago

My guess is that this could just as easily have been written about my native North East England. I lived in Wales for 16 years. I loved the place, and the people. The politics drove me to despair. I am not clever enough to find an answer to the problems in the Valleys, but the Welsh establishment seems hellbent on turning the place into a Welsh speaking England hating theme park, and I struggle to see how that direction will benefit anyone other than those who draw salaries from the public purse.

Mark HumanMode
Mark HumanMode
3 months ago

Tell you what though, wasn’t it marvelous how they closed everything down properly during covid. It was a good trial run.

Deb Grant
Deb Grant
3 months ago

The demise of working class white boys and men is both sad and serious, and has been for decades.

It hasn’t been helped in any material way by the devolved Labour Governments but the problem isn’t confined to Wales or Britain. The writer rightly touches on lack of purpose and the focus on minoroties as being major factors. However, it is acute in Wales through a move from industrial to intellectual jobs. It’s also a discrete region which makes it a valid testing ground for bad and good initiatives.

Manual and semi-skilled workers are still in demand in many areas, including construction and food production, but we’re importing people to work for lower wages. If we don’t, goods and services will be more expensive, but what price social cohesion?

Paying people with other people’s money to stay poor isn’t the answer. Restoring the importance of work ethic among today’s young has to be a priority.

James Bond
James Bond
3 months ago
Reply to  Deb Grant

Get real. Life is brutal , unfair and unforgiving. You either adapt or you sink. Nobody but nobody wants to hear whining excuses. Except , evidently, stirring dog whistling Tories who’s maniacal hatred of the common people of these lands is there for all to see and who only have their sad culture war to fall back on.

John Wilkes
John Wilkes
3 months ago

Sadly, heavy industry has largely been outsourced so that we can pretend to ourselves that our carbon footprint has been reduced. Let poor people in foreign parts do all the dirty work, import steel or finished goods more cheaply and use the balance to pay benefits.
The great and good can signal their virtue on our road to net zero, whilst global emissions are unchanged. Job done, in every sense.

Jake Raven
Jake Raven
3 months ago

There is nothing to keep anyone in Wales, poor health service, woeful educational standards, zero job prospects, poor housing and a Welsh government that’s determined to drive employers and tourists away. They are more interested in woke, socialist ideology than serving the people and businesses of Wales. Look out England, Starmer was here to learn from the experts how it’s done.

Adrian Doble
Adrian Doble
3 months ago

The words ‘exponential suicide rate’ stole a good article’s credibility.

Steve Everitt
Steve Everitt
3 months ago

The annoying 20mph speed limit is adding another layer of misery.

Katja Sipple
Katja Sipple
3 months ago

A very eloquent essay filled with justified anger about the broken promises of a political class that has its bed made, and sadness at the hopelessness experienced by the affected communities. I am so glad that the author didn’t mince words when it came to pointing out larger societal causes: “Today, what we look upon are social systems in which young white men are struggling to find any meaning let alone political agency. As other groups are being encouraged to find a sense of purpose and belonging through a shared sense of historical outrage, such an identity has been denied them. The same men have also been thrown into a cultural milieu in which they are being asked to embrace their vulnerabilities, while stripping them of the very qualities of passion and fight that might allow them to deal with difficult times.”
This part cannot be emphasised enough, because our current social climate, dominated by wokeness, historical guilt, and prescribed self-loathing, is a toxic mixture.