What the heck have the politicians done to us and our Country? Steel de-Nationalisation

Corby2MoltonMetal2
Steelworks were scary places. There was a maze of rail tracks surrounding the site, bringing in iron-ore and coal, and moving about crucible wagons of glowing molten metal and taking out gigantic ingots of steel and things like steel tubes (for home use or export around the world). Lines and lines of rail wagons not to be ducked through in case a train shunts them.

The blast furnaces where the iron was smelted were bigger than a house, and the noise and heat were almost intolerable. The steel making Bessemer furnaces were equally frightening with overhead cranes carrying swinging crucibles of hot metal sparking out a few spots here and there. Elsewhere, strip mills heated ingots to red hot, and then rolled them out to end up when cold looking like a giant roll of metal sellotape – but only after the crimson band had snaked across the floor of the plant in runners like an angry bee (ready to chop a man in half). Everything was smoky, dirty and sooty and smelly – no chance of manufacturing clean environment computer chips around there then!

We owned them in the late 1960s – that’s you and me owned them through British Steel Corporation. Those days Steelworks were essential national treasures. The importance of steel was, and still is of paramount significance – the only problem and difference now is that we no longer have a UK steel industry. If the Second World War was happening now we couldn’t even make enough steel to build rifles let alone construct ships and planes and tanks and vehicles and big guns – we could probably manages a few knives perhaps!. So what happened?

Well, the demise of our own steelmaking started with parliament’s vote of de-nationalisation and privatisation in 1988 by PM Thatcher (Conservative). This finished off forty years of Labour and Tory conflict about having a nationalised industry. After the War Labour saw the need for intervention due to major neglect of the industry under commercial ownership; they nationalised steel (PM Atlee Labour) then the Tories denationalised it (various PMs Con); Labour got power again and succeeded in renationalising steel another time in 1967 (PM Wilson Labour).

There is no doubt that Steel has been a problem industry for over half a century, needing much capital investment and expensive modernisation, but selling it off thirty years ago was a temporary expediency, the money has well gone, private companies couldn’t make a go of it as proclaimed, and the decision has simply left the UK in the total long-term mire – Steel went first to the Dutch and then onto the Indians. It seems now to be in terminal decline with ongoing plant closures, short-time operation, and a shrinking workforce, as other developing countries gain strength. Steel was supposed to lie at the heart of manufacturing, so where does that leave our industries? Our politicians have been willing to spend many billions of pounds on wars in aid of other countries [£20 billion Afghanistan, £5 billion Iraq, £2 billion Libya, £200? million Syria, et al] – what could that money have done for home grown steel?

So a UK company can no longer be in the list of world steel producers. We are in the hands of India’s Tata Steel – a plant at Port Talbot, Wales and a second at Scunthorpe. So don’t start any more wars unless we have good allies in Luxembourg, China, South Korea, Japan, India, US, Germany, Russia, Italy, Ukraine, Taiwan, or Iran, countries where we can get some steel from – and certainly don’t fall out with those places!

Oh Yes, our politicians have screwed up again – do they ever get anything right? Perhaps democracy is not all that it’s made out to be (in UK anyway).

[This is one of a number of Posts that comment on the effect of significant changes brought about by Political Parties]
Why not have a read?:

Creation of a Welfare State [1]
Bus Deregulation [2]
Destruction of the Railway system [3]
Sunday Opening Shame [4]
Steel De-Nationalisation [5]

One thought on “What the heck have the politicians done to us and our Country? Steel de-Nationalisation

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