The government’s failure to adequately protect an industry and a community are a stark reminder of their priorities. While they have procrastinated and delayed, a tradition of steel making in Port Talbot and across the country is under threat.
We’ve heard that ‘no option is off the table’ from Anna Soubry, yet Sajid Javid has ruled out nationalisation. The Prime Minister has dodged questions on the matter, just as he has failed to follow the lead of the Welsh Assembly and reconvene Parliament. In a time of legitimate crisis for families who rely on the steel industry and its supply chain for an income, mixed messages from the government are not only unwelcome, but damaging.
Only Labour has offered a credible rescue plan, with John McDonnell proposing that the plant is nationalised as a stabilising measure, then restructured and offered proper government support to ensure a bright and solid future for steelworkers up and down the country.
By investing in our steel industry and commissioning infrastructure projects using British steel, the government would ensure that no more Royal Navy ships are built with foreign steel, that vital infrastructure projects could be brought forward and countless communities revitalized. The government has been only too happy to chase Chinese patronage, but unable to stand up to China when low quality steel dumped on the world market is to blame for this crisis. As Len McCluskey has argued already, there will always be a market for high quality steel. Britain without an independent steelmaking capacity is unthinkable. Port Talbot steel deserves a future. Failure to act to protect this community is another example of the government’s determination to ignore the social consequences of their decisions.
The failure of the government to recall Parliament despite massive public support for doing so shows a government that is fundamentally out of touch and paralysed either by indecision or incompetence. The Labour Party will not abandon the steel industry and the communities who rely on it.