S. O. Davies
Stephen Owen Davies was a Welsh miner, trade union official and Labour Party politician. He served as the Member of Parliament for Merthyr Tydfil from 1950 to 1972. In 1970, when well past 80, he was deselected as parliamentary candidate by his local party association on account of his age.
About S. O. Davies in brief
Stephen Owen Davies was a Welsh miner, trade union official and Labour Party politician. He served as the Member of Parliament for Merthyr Tydfil from 1950 to 1972. In 1970, when well past 80, he was deselected as parliamentary candidate by his local party association on account of his age. He fought the constituency in the 1970 general election as an Independent and won comfortably. In a BBC TV interview the day after that election, he claimed to be 83 years old. There is uncertainty about Davies’s date of birth. Most records say November 1886, though usually with the caveat that he might have been born several years earlier. His birthplace was 39 John Street, Abercwmboi in the South Wales coalfields. He was the fourth child of Thomas Davies and his wife Esther. Thomas was a miner and trade union activist, who under the pseudonym Y Llwynog wrote a column for the Welsh language newspaper Tarian y Gweithiwr in which he berated pit management and safety practices. He died early in 1972 aged at least 85 and possibly 90 or more. His plans to enter the ministry were abandoned; he was an active member of the Independent Labour Party. His religious vocation had been replaced by a commitment to working-class politics. In 1913, he stood for election to Cardiff’s Board of Guardians, as ILP candidate in the Grangetown ward. This first foray into electoral politics ended in a narrow defeat, by 47 votes to 47. After graduation, Davies returned to work in the mines, initially at Tumble Valley, in the Gwendraeth Valley.
When the First World War began in 1914 he opposed it as militarism. In August 1914 he began opposing it as “a restriction of the liberty of the masses, a restriction of their social conditions and a degradation of the social standard of their conditions” When the war ended in August 1914, he began fighting in the Anthracite Miners’ district of the SWMF. In 1918 he was elected miners’ agent for the Dowlais district. In 1924 he was appointed SWMF’s chief organiser, legal adviser, and vice-president. After a visit to Moscow in 1922 he became a firm advocate of the Soviet Union, a position he maintained for the rest of his life. In 1966, after an unstable colliery spoil tip collapsed on the village of Aberfan with the loss of 144 lives, Davies controversially stated that he had long thought that the tip was unsafe. He had not reported his suspicions, for fear that an inquiry would cause the closures of local pits. After spells of unemployment he eventually found work as an insurance agent. He remained there until the mine was exhausted in 1905, when he moved to Mountain Ash to work at Nixon’s Navigation Colliery. In 1908, with sponsorship from the Brecon Memorial College, he passed his matriculation and began studying for a Bachelor of Arts degree at University College, Cardiff, with a view thereafter to entering the nonconformist ministry.