Today’s columnist, MP Louise Haigh: Time to stand up for people

The site of Tata Steel in Stocksbridge. Picture: Andrew Roe
The site of Tata Steel in Stocksbridge. Picture: Andrew Roe
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The devastation reaped across the industrial north, in cities like ours and elsewhere in the 1980s has left a bitter legacy.

Then the Tories laid-off generations of skilled workers who did so much to make our country’s name echo across the globe. In its place they put the high finance and dubious morals of the City of London on a golden throne.Now grim history is repeating itself. 
One steelworker from Stocksbridge told The Star last week: “Do the Tories even care about us? I don’t think they do”.
It’s impossible to argue with that, when you see a government not just standing idly by while the steel industry and livelihoods of ordinary people are put onto the scrapheap, but actively working against us. In Europe our government has been at the forefront of a ‘blocking minority’ which vetoed any attempt to put tariffs up to stop the Chinese dumping cheap steel on our markets. The Tories are selling us out and selling out our steel industry at a time when it has never been more vital. In spite of this Government, there is a Northern revival starting to take root. And it is being led once again by the working men and women who made this country’s name decades ago, which saw ‘Made in Sheffield’ stamped on the highest-quality steel from Mumbai to New York. Now there is a new industrial revolution about to take place relying on the technical brilliance of working people schooled in world-leading apprenticeships producing everything from advanced metals to aerospace components.
But without steel, we can forget about that. Because the message it would send is that the UK – the Tories to be precise – do not care about manufacturing or being world-leading in anything much that matters.
When the City of London was threatened, George Osborne criss-crossed the continent banging on the doors of leaders to put a stop to a tax which would have brought in billions for public services. When it is ordinary men and women in Sheffield, Port Talbot and Redcar, ministers are on their holidays. They claim their hands are tied, when they prevented EU tariffs on cheap imports from China. They claim the issue is demand, when they could legislate to use British steel in infrastructure projects and they say let the market decide, when the state could i give the industry that is so important to our national security, the security it needs to become profitable. If ministers can’t stand up for ordinary people they should get out of the way and get in a government that can.