Smugly grinning as he strolled along the High Street, Farage promised a better Merthyr, and an end to the economic misery that has plagued the town for decades.
Speaking to a crowd of followers at the Trago Mills Carpark – with the business one would expect of a boring Wednesday afternoon, multi-millionaire Farage promised that Brexit would be a land of golden opportunity for the impoverished Merthyr, and that a vote for the Brexit Party is the only ticket to this promised future.
On the opposite side of the car park – protesters.
A lot of them.
Some carrying EU flags, others carrying YesCymru banners, the protesters obviously rattled Farage…enough that he childishly complained about them on Twitter, claiming they were an affront to democracy.
Anti-Farage Protesters blocking the roads to the rally = Bad for democracy.
You know what the funny thing is though…
…I’m glad he came.
Put aside personal objections to Nigel Farage and what he stands for (God knows our team has a lot), you can’t deny he’s made a very strong point in his visit.
‘British’ politicians do not give a fuck about the South Wales Valleys unless they directly politically benefit them.
You could argue this point extends across the entirety of Wales. I certainly do. In this instance though, I’ll be focusing on just the South Wales Valleys.
I’m not saying either that this is some malicious plot, it’s just the way the cards are dealt.
Farage I doubt has ever even heard of Merthyr up until recently, although I welcome being proven wrong. As Brexit Party Chair and multi-millionaire Richard Tice so eloquently highlighted in a recent Tweet – Merthyr isn’t a place who’s people he cares about – he can’t even pronounce the name…Merthyr is seemingly just a political opportunity.
(Courtesy of Richard Tice’s Twitter – the equivalent of Tweeting ‘God knows where I am, but I bet they’ll support my bullshit’)
With England containing the most seats and largest share of the population within the United Kingdom, it makes political sense to focus elsewhere if you’re a UK based party. It’s a necessity.
As a result, who really needs to care about Wales, or Welsh communities? They have the Assembly, don’t they?
And we do…
But with a Blairite Welsh Labour currently dominating the Assembly, as they have done so the last twenty years, their stagnant inaction on devolving more powers means that Wales still remains largely in the pocket of Westminster
…A Westminster who’s priorities ultimately lay in England.
All the while, the Labour Party in Wales take the almost blind loyalty of the Valleys for granted.
As a result, like a parasite whose survival relies on the oblivious host, Wales remains at the whim of Westminster – a Westminster that sucks resources out of small communities in Wales and only seem to care when they need something.
It would be laughable to suggest seeing Theresa May in the Valleys. Jeremy Corbyn for all the good he advocates only came to offset his opponent in Owen Smith. Could you ever see Chuka Umunna coming to the Valleys? What about Vince Cable? Heidi Allen? Anyone?
Can you blame them? Not really, they’re just playing the political game.
When we have UK based politicians come to Merthyr, or the Rhondda, or Ponty or anywhere in the Valleys claiming miracle cures for the region’s woes, the sad fact is that they’re priorities will always be elsewhere – usually the vast numbers of voters in England.
As seen with the rising numbers supporting the Brexit Party, as well as Anti-Establishment Labour when Jeremy Corbyn came to power – the Valleys are on the whole desperate for radical change, and Britain-wide politicians, when they seldom visit the Valleys, utilize this sentiment for their own gain – often very blatantly.
But as Farage’s visit has highlighted, if we want radical change, we’ll have to rely on ourselves to bring it.
National politicians can only care about what the vast majority of voters want. With that being predominantly what English voters want, unfortunately, small regions like the Valleys are left forgotten, and often hardest hit.
We can’t rely on UK-wide politicians smooth talking they’re way into the Valleys, making promises when they barely care or even know about the area.
We can’t rely on others telling us what we want.
We can’t believe that UK-wide politicians know what’s best for the Valleys, or what’s best for Wales.
We need to support greater devolution, so more of our politics are decided in Wales not London.
We need a stronger voice in the Welsh Assembly from the Valleys, to stop us being taken for granted by the current Welsh Labour Government.
We need to support grassroots politicians with a focus on radical, left-wing change to ward off the right-wing Nationalism of Farage and his cronies, as well as the stangnant, out-of-ideas, Blair-inspired Labour Party in Cardiff Bay.
We need to wake up and make our presence known, or have others make our decisions for us.