The Government's Response To The Steel Crisis Has Been A Mixture Of Incompetence And Indifference

From The Sunday Mirror

With the steel crisis of this week we have seen the Tory government at its incompetent and indifferent worst, and it is my constituents and thousands like them all over the UK who are paying the price. 

That Tata would announce that they planned to sell the steelworks was always likely. Of course we hoped that they would back the turnaround plan, that is why Roy Ruckhuss – the brilliant General Secretary of Community, the steelworkers Union – and I went out to Mumbai.

We saw this coming, Mirror readers, thanks to the brilliant Save Our Steel Campaign, could see it coming, and the government should have seen this coming too. While Roy and I were meeting with and pressing Tata to accept the turnaround plan, where were the Business Secretary and Prime Minister?

The Prime Minister was away, and Sajid Javid had jetted off to Australia.  Apparently it never crossed any of their minds to join our delegation to Mumbai.

For a long time we knew that the 29thMarch board meeting of Tata would be D-day for the British Steel industry, so for the government to have been caught so unawares just underscores that they have been asleep at the wheel.

Let us be clear, what we are seeing now is a government in panic mode. Well ahead of the board meeting they should have been in constant dialogue with Tata, the EU Commission, the Welsh Assembly, Community Union, and with all potential buyers. 

David Cameron swore blind yesterday that the government has been doing all it can, but if so then where is the evidence of that? Where is the plan to support Tata Steel to maintain its UK operations whilst it looks for a buyer? Where is the strategy for dealing with the mass dumping of Chinese steel that has been crippling our steel industry for so long? Where is the clarity about other options, such as nationalisation?

The government was clearly caught on the hop on Tuesday, but this was just the tip of the iceberg. The fact is that Cameron & co have been undermining the British steel industry since 2010. 

They have been actively campaigning against European reforms to trade rules that would allow us to impose fair tariffs on the dumped Chinese steel that has so damaged our steel industry.

And they have rolled out the red carpet for Beijing, serving as the chief cheerleaders in Europe for China to be granted Market Economy Status, something that would all but eliminate our ability to protect ourselves from Chinese dumped steel.

The steel crisis has seen the return of 'Chillax Dave', a government too incompetent and indifferent to the needs of the steel industry to engage. And it is the people of Port Talbot who are left to pick up the pieces.