Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Harbinger?

This headline suggests that the Mosleyite rump are more familiar with the Bayer Wald  than they are with Wales, but there's no denying they have some very comprehensive on-line historical archives.

They're so good that a few minutes research is all you need to come-up with a shed-load of pre-war Welsh fascists.  Real ones, not the pretend Welsh nationalist version that get Labour and it's drones all hot and bothered.

We learn that two blackshirts were killed in the Gresford disaster, one having gone back down the pit after his shift  to sell copies of the Action newspaper; that Barry Docks was a bit of a fascist hotbed and that even red Maerdy had a no-doubt shortlived BUF branch.   Prominent councillors like Mainwaring-Hughes in Swansea and W. O. Roberts in Caernarfonshire threw in their lot with Mosley and the World War One flying ace Rhys Soar was North Wales Organizer for OM's party.  Even Radnorshire was caught up in the excitement, with local farmers being invited to attend a BUF meeting in Knighton in June 1934.

Why entitle this piece the Harbinger?  Well in the 1940s - while Labour set out to build socialism, the Tories sought to hang on to Empire and nationalists dreamed of a Welsh state - Mosley's dream was of a united Europe.  Which of these was the most prescient?

Today we have local councillors under the thumb of their officials, companies run for the benefit of managers rather than shareholders, public money spent by unaccountable quangos and charities and powers transferred to a highly centralised, far from democratic Brussels.  It's a long way from Small is Beautiful or the Breakdown of Nations; infact the spirit of the age seems a lot closer to the elitist managerial corporatism envisaged by Mosley.


Anonymous said...

"Today we have local councillors under the thumb of their officials"

Why is that? Is it because the quality of local politicians has decreased (with more able people having greater opportunities to move away for career and lifestyle reasons?), or because greater centralisation means that councillors have to be babysat by officials lest they contravene laws? Or maybe a more complex modern world means greater bureaucracy and greater specialisms that local councillors find difficult to master?

Certainly we have some real idiots sitting on various elected bodies within Powys, though I won't mention any names because I don't want any more of my posts being deleted.

radnorian said...

"more able people having greater opportunities to move away for career and lifestyle reason"

What make's you think that? Hardly any of the folk I was in school with in the 1960s stayed in Mid Wales. Moving away is nothing new, infact I'd say there is less of it now than ever.

"a more complex modern world means greater bureaucracy"

Well they had schools, roads, council estates, social services, libraries etc. in the 1960s without the need for such a complex bureaucracy.

"greater centralisation means that councillors have to be babysat by officials lest they contravene laws"

Yep now you're making my point for me. It is just this centralisation, the imposition of functions, the over-lawyered society which needs to be changed. Local government needs to get back to being local.

"the quality of local politicians has decreased"

Well since councillors have far less power than they used to and have to be babysat by officials who clearly don't have much respect for their intellect or their democratic mandate it's hardly surprising if fewer and fewer folk can bother to get involved - either by standing or voting. In the long term that's an unhealthy situation, not least for the bureaucrats themselves.

Yes I do delete vulgarities aimed at named individuals but please keep contributing. It's useful to hear different views.

Anonymous said...

Just to be clear, I wasn't trying to make any point - they were genuine questions to which I don't even pretend to know the answer.

That said, your point that "they had schools, roads, council estates, social services, libraries etc. in the 1960s" is a trifle simplistic.

The schools in the 60s for example had a much smaller remit than today - the grammar schools taught a basic eight or nine subjects with university entry in mind and the other schools basically caged the kids in until they could be released to industry, where their real education would start.

These days industry refuses to invest in the education of young people, so schools and colleges have to do it for them - hence the rise in vocational courses. In an underpopulated area, providing this huge breadth of courses is a real challenge, and this, of course was the reason behind Powys's recent education reform debacle - designed by council officers who were aware that something needs to be done in the long term and rejected by councillors who were too aware of the short term unpopularity of the proposed changes. It's a thankless task whichever side you're on, and probably demands cleverer minds than are available either at elected or officer level.

radnorian said...

The sec mods weren't so bad - at least the kids came out numerate and able to read and write.

You're right about industry, they would be better placed to provide vocational training than the councils. It shouldn't be beyond the wit of government to design a tax system that punishes firms that fail to provide apprenticeships.

I also agree about the short-term outlook of many politicians. It would help if there were a lot more openness and less secrecy. Voters need to know what's going on.

I should also add that democracy also means allowing elected representatives to make a complete hash of things.