Overseas readers may not know whether to weep or laugh at the atavistic decision of the English government to open a new coal mine in Cumbria. The arguments adduced in its favour are largely specious. But, before you condemn, we beg you to at least try to understand the real motivations of our countrymen, and the state of despair this reveals.
For England was once an industrial country. A land of shipyards, furnaces, docks and mines. True, the work in them was usually harsh, badly paid and perilous. But membership of such communities gave people some income, some purpose (England was once a world power)- a way of life. Cumbria was the first region to de-industrialise. Now the wind blows over empty ports and yards. Fragmented, cruelly exploited labour in warehouses and call centres can never be a substitute for the tales of the grandfather and great-grandfather.
And those who lose hope in the future will look for it in the past. A mindset that has played out disastrously since 2016, and not just in England. There are many opportunities to build a future in Cumbria (think wind and tidal power for example). But the poor people who live there were never given the education nor the mentality to suspect that these exist. They demand to be put back under the ground, where the life is dirty, damp and dangerous. And even this sacrifice will be for little gain, as elsewhere cleverer people move on to other things.
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