In his autobiography, the great James Griffiths, MP for Llanelli and the first Secretary of State for Wales, recalls seeing a demonstration of working people in New York. One poster said, “Give us bread – and roses too.” This was taken from a poem written many years earlier, in 1911 by James Oppenheim, on the occasion of a textile workers strike. Part of that poem reads:
Go crying through our singing their ancient cry for bread.
Small art and love and beauty their drudging spirits knew.
Yes, it is bread we fight for — but we fight for roses, too!
For James Griffiths that was what Socialism meant. It was not concerned only with the means of survival – bread. What mattered too was the quality of life, symbolised by roses.
That is why I am glad and proud to be supporting Parc Howard. That’s why when the Park’s funding was under threat, I called a public meeting, from which we were able to re-establish the Parc Howard Association, to speak up for the preservation and enhancement of this precious asset. I am delighted to see that the association is going from strength to strength, and hope we can work together to achieve green flag status in time for the Park’s centenary in 2012.
It is not mere coincidence that Parc Howard was established a year after Oppenheim wrote his poem; it was a time of social reform and vision; following on from Lloyd Geroge’s famous people’s budget in 1909 which introduced progressive taxation, 1911 saw the foundation of the modern welfare state.
Of course, we want jobs for Llanelli and decent housing, high-quality healthcare and good education. We also want our people to be able to enjoy things of beauty whether in the arts or in nature. Parc Howard and its mansion belong to the people of Llanelli. We cherish our inheritance. Long may Parc Howard be an inspiration to the people of Llanelli.