Saturday, 2 April 2016

Steel, seriously

John Redwood's first response to the threat of Port Talbot closure in a BBC TV interview seemed to imply that steel production was such a UK strategic essential that he was prepared to abandon his free-market instincts and envisage major government intervention. He has since refined his thoughts on the situation - could this be linked with the return from Australia of the apostle of cheap steel, business minister Sajid Javid?

In his piece, Mr Redwood gives a short history of the public/private history of steel in the UK. I would agree with him on several points. Whatever the need for government reconstruction immediately after the war, once the industry was on its feet it was right for the Conservatives to return it to private ownership. It was a mistake for the 1966-1970 Wilson government to renationalise it. I also agree with Mr Redwood that it was wrong for the Conservatives later to prop up Ravenscraig. He might have added that the continued existence of Ravenscraig was due to a shoddy political compromise by an earlier Conservative government under Harold Macmillan, a compromise which in the end did no favours either to Wales or Scotland.

No comments: