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Some context on Merthyr Tydfil

November 4, 2010

Among other papers the Western Mail the other week reported Cabinet minister Iain Duncan Smith’s suggestion those living in Merthyr Tydfil, an economically disadvantaged Welsh town, travel to Cardiff in order to find jobs.

Unsurprisingly, this drew comparisons to Norman Tebbit’s notorious 1981 call for the unemployed to “get on your bike” to find work, and Duncan Smith was portrayed as part of the “nasty Tory” Conservative party.

This article works on some levels. We understand the general point that Duncan Smith is out of touch with the unemployed by making assumptions about their mobility. But context is lacking.

And as a recent arrival in Wales, I know nothing of the geography, which is key to the story’s context.

So please look at the following:

Here is a rough map of the distance between the two place, at least as the crow flies. Here you can see the nuts and bolts of the story; the shortest distance people will have to travel from Merthyr Tydfil if they are to act on Duncan Smith’s advice. So it is at least a 20 mile journey, but most likely longer.

Also, note the pictures for the two locations on the map. Funnily enough, searching for “Merthyr Tydfil” on Flickr yields nothing but photos of buses.

ps. The “Cardiff bus station” marker actually brings up a photo of Queen Street. This decision is sheerly based on aesthetics.

Dave Baxter

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