Peter Hain, as slippery a politician as you ever shall meet, has had a good week. A man usually found on our TV screens weaselling out of answering a pretty straightforward question has spoken clearly and knowledgeably. Unfortunately his opportunity to shine arose because of terrible misfortune for others but this shouldn’t deflect from a great performance.
In a crisis situation of the kind which developed at Gleision Colliery – ultimately taking the lives of four miners – there is a necessity to provide the rolling news networks with comment and analysis at a level which has become close to parody. News anchors now descend on the scene which requires someone to meet their insatiable desire for a talking head. If this isn’t done then a vacuum can develop, unhelpful and misleading speculation is often then sourced to fill this void.
Hain was on the ground at the Colliery very quickly and kept in close contact with the families and emergency services ensuring he was communicating facts, if he knew them, avoiding unhelpful speculation. His presence meant the emergency services could concentrate on their job while the families were left alone. He communicated a great sense of pride in the history of South Wales and demonstrated a superb level of empathy for those families agonising over the fate of their loved ones.
Subsequently Hain has set up the Swansea Valley Miners Appeal Fund to support the families of the victims. It is a nice thoughtful touch which demonstrates his closeness to this tragedy and why he is my communicator of the week.