South Wales colliery campaigners oppose choice of Michael Howard to unveil blue plaque to Lord Elwyn-Jones
A FORMER mining official has resigned from a heritage body over the choice of ex-Tory leader Michael Howard to unveil a blue plaque in Llanelli.
At 9am on Monday, the plaque will be unveiled at 132 Old Castle Road in Llanelli.
This was the birthplace of Lord Elwyn-Jones, a former Llanelli Grammar School student who went on to have a distinguished legal career and served as Lord Chancellor in Harold Wilson's Labour government.
Colliery enthusiast Phil Cullen, 56, is outraged that the plaque unveiling – organised by Llanelli Community Heritage (LCH) – will be overseen by Llanelli-born Mr Howard.
Mr Cullen, of Swiss Valley, Llanelli, was the final chairman of the National Union of Mineworkers at Cynheidre Colliery and had been working as an advisor for the LCH.
He has now resigned from his role as a result of this issue.
Mr Cullen said: "It's a disgrace, an absolute disgrace. It's difficult to think of anybody alive that would be worse for the job."
Labour MP for Llanelli, Nia Griffith who has sponsored the plaque, said: "It is a mark of the esteem in which Lord Elwyn-Jones was held, that he was very well respected by people from across the political spectrum."
Mr Cullen is objecting to Mr Howard being present because he cannot see a reasonable relationship between him and the man being honoured.
"This town suffered massively under the Tory administration in the past," Mr Cullen said.
"It's extremely insulting at best and insensitive at worst."
His view has been mirrored by Wayne Thomas of the South Wales branch of the National Union of Mineworkers.
The 53-year-old said: "I'm sure they could have found someone more appropriate than (Michael) Howard.
"For him to come down to this community in this day and age – just, no. It's disrespectful as far as I'm concerned."
The Post approached Mr Howard to get his views on this opposition.
Mr Howard said: "They are perfectly entitled to their opinion.
"I have a strong personal connection to Lord Elwyn-Jones – I knew him pretty well and I practised as a barrister in his chambers for 16 years.
"We are the only two of the old boys of Llanelli Grammar School who have served in the cabinet.
"I was very pleased to be asked – party politics isn't everything."
Mr Cullen also called for an explanation from the current Llanelli MP as to why she had not opposed the choice of Mr Howard.
Ms Griffith said: "As MP for Llanelli, I work with a wide range of people and attend many occasions which involve individuals with differing political views.
"This does not mean that I endorse those views."