You may remember her toe-curling speech after first winning the seat from Plaid’s Brian Hancock, well renowned for his love affair with canals. She trumpeted that the constituency had returned to its one and only true owners. Very very much Old Labour.
Now she’s one of those who reckon the reopened railway past her home in Abercarn isn’t quite good enough. Although the Assembly has turned English ideas on their head – London has fallen out of love with new openings and seems not to be funding any – Mrs James believes there it would be worth reopening Abercarn station. That is one of those which Cardiff has forgotten about – together with Aberbeeg and Cwm.
The only problem is that the minister in charge of railways is the leader of the party which she so comprehensively ridiculed when she first won – Ieuan Wyn Jones.
In the old days, that would have been sufficient for a proposal to bite the dust. That may yet happen – but not because of that ill-judged speech. Mr Jones – as well as his adviser – totally rejects any animosity. “No, no, no,” the minister said.
Mind you, there’s still the small matter of a business case for a reopening; plus, whether an additional stop would prevent a train getting to each terminus in time.
Irene is by now exceedingly contrite about her speech. I was just an ordinary teacher fighting against the image of a sitting AM, she says. I’m surprised that she doesn’t know more about the image that Mr Hancock sometimes possessed within Crickhowell House. Irene seems to be saying she was exceedingly lucky to win.
Mind, her railway case should be strong. In Rhondda, the railway stops so frequently that it is almost putting the buses out of business; along the Ebbw, the train acts almost as an express, so few are the stops.
If the Assembly is to act on the global warming agenda, the line needs to give a proper service to the communities its passes; as well as running into the valley’s main community of Newport, instead of only to Cardiff.