If ever there was a reason not to vote Conservative in the upcoming regional elections, it’s the sell-off of Tata Steel that was announced yesterday.
Welsh Tory leader Andrew RT Davies has called for the National Assembly of Wales to be recalled after a meeting of Tata board members in Mumbai decided to sell off their entire British steel business, threatening thousands of jobs in Port Talbot.
His demand can only be seen as an attempt to limit the damage done to Tory election chances by his colleagues in Westminster. While the Labour MP for Aberavon, Stephen Kinnock, was in Mumbai fighting for his constituents’ jobs, the UK’s business minister, Sajid Javid, was off on a junket to Australia where he is to deliver a speech to the British Chamber of Commerce there.
Doesn’t that tell you exactly how much value the Conservative Party ascribes to the UK steel industry?
The Huffington Post reports:
Instead of flying to Mumbai to put pressure on the company to support a turnaround plan, [Sajid] Javid is due to go to Australia this week, where he will address the British Chamber of Commerce on Thursday.
No other Government minister is scheduled to travel to India.
Labour MP Stephen Kinnock, who is in Mumbai representing hundreds of his constituents who face losing their jobs, claimed Javid’s no show symbolised the UK Government’s “abject failure” when it came to helping the steel industry.
He told The Huff Post UK: “This is deeply disappointing but not surprising. It reflects their abject failure to lift a finger for the British steel industry since 2010.
“They would rather just roll out the red carpet to China.”
A spokesman for Community, the steelworkers’ union, said Javid’s presence would have shown Tata how “serious” the potential job losses were to the UK.
They said: “That would have been very helpful. It would have been great to have somebody over there. “
The UK steel industry has taken a battering in recent years, and since last September thousands of jobs have Scotland, the North East and Wales.
Cheap steel from China is one of the reasons behind turmoil in the industry, with allegations the Asian country is selling the product at unrealistically low prices on the world stage.
The Labour Party has shown strong solidarity with steel workers ever since the first closures were announced. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called on the Tories to part-nationalise the steel industry after 4,000 jobs were lost in October.
Yesterday, he said:
“I am deeply concerned at the news coming out of Tata’s board meeting in Mumbai.
“Ministers must act now to protect the steel industry and the core of manufacturing in Britain.
“It is vital that the Government intervenes to maintain steel production in Port Talbot, both for the workforce and the wider economy, if necessary by taking a public stake in the industry.”
Considering the state of the steel market, the best course of action now would be for the UK government to nationalise the Tata steelworks, but under a Tory government the chances of that happening are remote.
The Tories are, after all, partly to blame for the UK steel crisis. George Osborne keeps handing contracts to foreign firms:
As for job losses – when did Tories ever care about those?
Ah yes – when it suits them.
As Vix Horn pointed out on Twitter: “They won’t care about British jobs until they need to defend obscene spending on Trident – “Think of the jobs!”
It will be our job to point out their double-standards to them when that happens – and to Andrew RT Davies now.
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