IS IT just me, or are we seeing history repeat itself? Margaret Thatcher made it her life’s work to close down the coal industry and now Shiny Dave’s lot are trying to do the same with the steel industry.
We, the humble British taxpayers, were forced to bail out the banks when the proverbial plop hit the fan, but there doesn’t seem to be any magic plan in the wings to rescue Port Talbot from the jaws of closure. In one memorable quote this week, steel worker Vincent Lewis said of Tata Steel’s decision to sell off the money-losing plant: “This is the last bastion of steel-making in Britain. Closure of this plant could put Port Talbot back in the dark age”.
That reminds me of Barnsley and Orgreave all over again. Look what happened there. We ended up with generations of families who never worked again.
Mr Vincent Lewis is right. If the Chancellor George Osborne hadn’t been out and about forging links with his ‘international trade’ hat on we wouldn’t be in this mess with the market flooded with cheap, inferior steel from China. When I was a kid the steel plant in Workington, next my home town of Whitehaven in Cumbria, made the finest quality railway lines in the world, and look what happened there. Quantity over quality is definitely not the best solution. The only way West Cumbria survived as an economy was allowing the giant nuclear plant Sellafield to be built on the edge of the Lake District National Park. It is still providing jobs but there is precious little other employment on offer locally.
The ‘troubled’ new nuclear facility at Hinkley Point in Somerset is already way over budget and Shiny Dave is planning to construct it out of cheap steel from China. God help us. There are already stories about buildings collapsing having been built from inferior Chinese steel.
The whole industry is in jeopardy, as are the thousands of jobs and families that rely on those incomes, not taking into account the wider economic impact.
New rising star, Business Secretary Sajid Javid, certainly seems to have had his eye off the ball when Indian-owned Tata Steel announced its plans for a sell-off with thousands of jobs at stake. He was on an ‘official visit’ – think the boy George in Shanghai – to Australia with his daughter when this stuff all kicked off. He has faced calls to resign and why not? This is a bloke who was raised in the Stapleton Road area of inner-city Bristol, one of the poorest multi-cultural areas, where generations of people have never had a job. Where will it end?
WHAT is it about 2016 and the deaths of famous people I grew up with? This week it was the wonderful Ronnie Corbett, the week before Paul Daniels, and that was hard on the heels of Terry Wogan. I am still in mourning for David Bowie and Alan Rickman.
I would be tempted to pop out for a couple of pints of foaming real ale to cheer myself up, but I’ve just read an article about how southern pubs don’t keep their pipes clean. Apparently the best place to drink a well-kept pint is Doncaster. If it weren’t for the drive, I’d pop up there. And I’d be able to buy three pints there for one from the dirty pipes down south.
Anyway, her indoors is out tonight, so I will dig out my crispy pancakes from the bottom of the freezer, where they have been expertly hidden under that easy-to-cook cubed veg-in-a-bag, which she claims look like sick even before I’ve eaten it.
Kevan Blackadder is a media consultant who runs Blackadder Media Limited. Kevan was previously editor of the Gloucestershire Echo and assistant editor of the Bristol Post. A Cumbrian who moved to the South West “for a couple of years” in the 1980s, he can’t quite believe he’s been there ever since.