Dawn Foster is enraged.
Knocking down a monument to democracy and universal suffrage to build an identikit shopping centre is a plotline you’d invent if you wanted to satirise Britain under the coalition. Yet this is exactly what has happened in Newport, South Wales, once a hub of radical working-class politics.
Oh, those eeeeeeevil Tories!
Last week Newport council …
Wait, this Newport Council? The Labour-controlled one?
… demolished a mural commemorating the Chartist uprising, to make way for a shopping centre, despite a long local campaign to integrate the mural into the structure. The council responded that the economic gain that may result from the new centre outweighed the cultural benefit, so they couldn’t afford not to demolish it.
And shouldn’t you be turning your ire on them?
To residents of south Wales, it seems like councils are rushing to close and downsize art galleries, libraries and museums in spite of public opposition, just to make a short-term economic gain.
Yes, indeed it does. That’s by design. It’s the same reason Obama is directing his minions to make things hurt for the ordinary people. What, you didn’t think they’d cut down on pointless job roles instead, did you?
…Wales has historically invested in arts and culture, understanding that these are the things that make poverty tolerable and remind us of the human values even of people on the economic scrap-heap. The cuts to Welsh cultural institutions shows how hollow Tory mantras are.
But it’s not the Tories doing it, is it?
Countless studies show poverty is psychologically draining and has a detrimental effect on mental health. Denying people the opportunity to lose themselves in a novel, or while away a few hours in a museum because austerity and deficit reduction are seen as more important than quality of life is simply cruel. And seeing the visual evidence of the cuts, an artwork dedicated to a radical, emancipatory movement piled up without care in a skip makes it feel as though it’s not just budgets, but a collective cultural history that’s under attack.
But not by the Tories.