The Croydon Communist Party called for urgent action at its recent branch meeting to tackle the growing crisis in the British steel industry. It noted that the Tory Government was refusing to act, blaming the situation on Chinese ‘dumping’ and our membership of the EU whose competition and procurement rules, they say, prevents support for strategic industries. But, as the meeting noted, the UK imports seven times as much steel from other EU industries as it does from China; and EU members Germany, Italy, France and the Netherlands were successfully supporting their steel industries, with or without EU endorsement.
The meeting concluded that steel was too important to the UK economy to be destroyed by government inaction. The government could do much more to save the steel industry, but is trapped in a neo-liberal mind-set which requires everything to be left to the self-correcting ‘magic of the markets’. Steel is a foundation industry without which we can’t have a successful manufacturing economy. Its loss will be a tragedy, both for the current workforce, other companies in the supply chain and the wider economy. Restoration of a viable manufacturing economy, including steel, requires fundamental changes, including development and implementation of a joined-up manufacturing and industrial strategy, reduction of high energy bills for the industry (themselves generated by the monopoly action of the privatised energy utilities), ensuring all government-backed contracts buy British-made steel, and a transfer of power away from big business to ordinary working people. This is only possible with a left exit from the EU.
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