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Coal and socialism

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James ‘Keir’ Hardie was one of the founders of the Labour Party, bringing together various trade unions and socialist groups. He was the first ever Labour Member of Parliament, representing Merthyr Tydfil and Aberdare, from 1900 until his death in 1915.

Merthyr remains a Labour town, despite significant local opposition to the Ffos-y-fran development. The last Labour Government supported opencast coal mining, despite fairly unanimous acknowledgement that coal is a major contributor to global climate change.

Today, both sides of the coal mining debate can try to lay claim to Hardie’s legacy. Those that support opencast mining in Merthyr can claim that Labour’s working class roots, and Hardie’s roots in mining and trade unionism, mean that Labour’s support for opencast mining is consistent with their traditional values. Those that oppose opencast coal mining in Merthyr argue that the Labour Party has betrayed its values by putting profit and corporate interests before the health and well-being of the community.

Ceinwen Statter is a former Labour MP (not in Merthyr Tydfil). She supports the opencast development: