British Steel and the Port Talbot Impact
Posted on April 4, 2016
One of the greatest ways of causes a socio-economic disaster is shut down an industry that a community depends on, as it is not just the thousands of workers in the plant, factory or mine that face a bleak future, but all the suppliers, shops, restaurants, pubs and clubs that depend on the local economy.
Sometimes I think that those of us who live in the ‘beautiful south’ and benefit from the London ripple effect in the economy, are blissfully unaware of the impact that factory closures have on Britain as a society where we are allegedly united and “all in it together”.
I think that one of the key issues comes from the fact that a Conservative government is generally alien to the working class lives of these people and if a situation like the ongoing Chinese steel dumping happens, well, it is just a case of “Tough luck chaps, that’s the free market for you”.
How much do the Conservatives really care? Well, it could be argued that most of the workers are union members and Labour voters, so maybe getting rid of places like Port Talbot is a price worth paying? I am not saying that is a fact, I am just putting it out there.
The problem with socio-economic meltdown is that it costs billions in unemployment and housing benefit as well as, over a generation or two, creating sink estates of people with no real prospects outside a life of crime, and so the cycle starts. The pit closures in the 1980’s proved that unequivocally.
We all know that crime doesn’t pay and I dislike criminals just like anyone else reading this, but I guess when you are penniless, it becomes an option and one that ruins lives.
Are the Conservatives worried? Not really, as after a while, the people who once voted Labour don’t bother any more because, disillusioned and out of a union, they no longer have any will or allegiance to politics, so in all essence, the Tories are winners all round.
A conspiracy theorist could convince you that it is all a master plan to keep the masses unemployed and uneducated, thus eradicating any potential of a growth in opposition, or dare I say it, a revolution. I have to say that it does sometimes appear to be something along those lines; or maybe it is simply just because if you live in a Cotswolds mansion, naivety rules and it is difficult to comprehend economic hardship?
If there was 9,000 Conservatives in that Port Talbot plant, would it have got to the situation it is now? No, it would have been bailed out and subsidised (like the banks were) and the Government would have battled to force some sort of levy on the Chinese dumping of cheap (and apparently poor quality) steel on us.
It doesn’t seem right that just because the Chinese have over produced there should be an economic disaster waiting to happen in South Wales; people who have produced British Steel for generations deserve better than that, surely?
Apparently there are investors hovering around Port Talbot looking to rescue it, but that doesn’t allay fears that it will just be some group like the mob who fleeced Rover and the tax payer (The Phoenix Consortium) and then shut it down a couple of years later, claiming it was not economically viable.
For whatever reason, there seems to have been an agenda against the working classes in industrial towns, but from where I am sitting in my safe Hampshire home, it seems to me that by shutting down communities and creating (over a generation or two) what is in all essence, a cut-off underclass, is detrimental to everyone, whatever their political persuasion happens to be.
When you sit in front of your TV hurling abuse at some scum bags on ‘Poverty Porn Street’ or whatever it is called, ask yourself how on earth these seemingly feckless individuals have been created and how our society became that way; it’s more complex than we choose to believe.
Surely we are better saving our own communities rather than helping out a miscalculation of steel production in a country with an appalling civil rights record and a Government that we barely trust?