Huw Edwards criticises Jeremy Paxman for ‘lecturing’ Welsh about mining disasters
BBC broadcaster Huw Edwards has criticised Jeremy Paxman for “lecturing” the people of Wales on the subject of their own mining disasters.
In comments made on S4C programme Heno, Jeremy Paxman said that Welsh mining disasters were “forgotten” and that people should have “more respect”.
In his new book Black Gold: The History of How Coal Made Britain, Paxman writes of Aberfan, “soon the dead children will be forgotten”.
“Well, people will forget Aberfan, I’m afraid,” he told Heno. “In the way that they forgot previous Welsh mining disasters. There was one for example in 1934 at Gresford that is almost completely forgotten now.
“People go to a garden centre now which is on top of where men died entombed beneath them. The bodies are still down there.
“I just think we ought to have more respect for these people.”
266 men died at Gresford Colliery, near Wrexham on 22 September 1934. Controversially, the company decided to seal the colliery rather than recover the bodies.
Huw Edwards however responded by linking to the story on social media and saying the intervention amounted to “lecturing”
“Where Paxo discovers Welsh mining disasters and lectures Wales on ‘respect’. Yeah.”
In 2016 Huw Edwards presented a BBC documentary entitled Aberfan: The Fight for Justice that looked at the testimony given during the 76-day long tribunal of inquiry.
🏴 On this day ever year we think of the 144 children and adults who lost their lives in 1966. The story is one of criminal neglect and injustice. 👇🏻 Aberfan: The Fight for Justice: https://t.co/FYeuDiHM6R via @bbciplayer
— Huw Edwards (@thehuwedwards) October 21, 2021
Jeremy Paxman also added of Aberfan: “There’s nothing worse than being a parent and seeing your child go before you. I cried when I was there.”
However, he also controversially suggests in his new book that Aberfan was also partly the fault of the people who worked at the mine.
“How many knew of the potential dangers, and kept silent because without the tip there would be no mine, and without the mine, the village would be likely to die,” he wrote.
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I thought Paxman was very decent about it. He cried at the thought of Aberfan’s children and mourned buried miners in Gresford. God knows no one is perfect, especially me.
Agree. Think Huw has gone OTT. We need to remember how these disasters in Wales and Scotland and England were the result of the neglect of bosses and government, who cared little about working people Nd and their families.
Huw was right to pick Paxman up on the latter’s assumption that these man-made disasters are being forgotten, though, and that “people should have more respect”. If he’s speaking as an outsider, then he’s right, but the victims will never be forgotten in Wales itself. Nearly every working-class family in Wrexham lost a close or not-so-close relative at Gresford. You don’t forget.
Oh we don’t forget them, and also those who died slowly, coughing their way. I can still hear them.
They kept canaries, grew big colourful flowers………..
Trouble is many of the disasters are not widely remembered outside of the former mining communities. Aberfan is probably the exception particularly for those who actually remember it, fewer of us every year! I don’t think Paxman was addressing Welsh people but people across the UK.
Aberfan didn’t get a mention on BBC Cymru news. This is how things get lost in time. Mining communities all over the world have always been badly treated and casualties seen as ‘unfortunate’ by the owners, state or private.
I remember Bristol soccer fans used to wind up opposition Welsh fans by chanting Aberfan.
So I was pleasantly surprised to find this https://gaschat.co.uk/thread/17151/aberfan
Even intelligent English people, or maybe intelligent English people especially, seem ignorant or deaf to Welsh people’s narratives. They seem not to hear what goes on in Wales, although what goes on in Wales is completely open and ‘out there’. Their attitude towards the Welsh language is the same. They get told the facts, that so and so many hundreds of thousands of people in these parts speak Welsh as a first language, they ‘know’ the facts, yet they do not really digest them, feel them, understand them in any meaningful way. They – intelligent English people – always believe… Read more »
You’ve taken one man (Paxman), invented views that he may or may not have, then applied that to all “intelligent English people”. What a load of nonsense.
As an Englishman now living in Wales, I’d say L Roberts has it spot on, actually, as a reasonable generalisation. The only caveat I would add is that the attitude to the Welsh language described is also held by many Welsh folk.
Not confined to the English. I’ve mentioned before how even two well known and intelligent Scots, on a BBC quiz, seriously underestimated the number of Welsh speakers in Wales. The highest estimate was only about 120k. Outside of Wales, little is known about us. We’re probably similar to the description of planet Earth in the Hitch Hikers Guide TTG. ‘Harmless’ or ‘Mostly harmless’!
What’s Huw Edwards problem here, Paxman makes a good point about how quickly we forget these disasters, and how wrong it is that we do. It was Aberfans anniversary this week if I hadn’t heard it on the news I wouldn’t have known. Trouble is there are so many of these ‘ accidents down the years’
Paxman is “thinking British” and lumping Wales with England, I should imagine. It was well-meant, but he should be aware that it still hits a nerve for Welsh people whenever Aberfan is mentioned. That said, we don’t think about Aberfan every day, not least because some people weren’t alive at the time. It’s enough that we are occasionally reminded while we get on with our lives, for instance, on 21st October.
All this chat comes down to the poor way history is taught in the schools of Wales.
Not just our own national history but the histories of the other nations within these islands.
Whether in the coal mines of Scotland , the Slate excavation of Wales or the Lead & Tin mines of Cornwall or the Quarries of England and Ireland therse disasters reflected on uncaring and often absent landkords….with strong westminster connections.