The Tata Steel Conundrum: The India Files

As Steel Towns up and down the land await their fate, a perpetual run of radical approaches to saving this great industry is being considered – the most surprising coming from a Tory MP, who is lobbying for nationalisation.

I must be very clear that I, for one, do not jump on the “stop sending benefit money overseas” bandwagon in response to domestic crises…at least I had never considered such a call until now.

There is something sickeningly ironic with the numbingly cold, industrialist response coming out of Tata Steel’s Indian Headquarters, however.

Up until the end of last year, the UK sent over £200m annually to India as – inter alia – a means of helping the country eradicate severe poverty.  Just three months down the line, we find the UK Steel Industry’s future hanging in the balance at the end of strings controlled by an Indian company, possessing an annual revenue of almost $109bn.

It is right that the government is lobbied hard, in order to save the very existence of towns such as Middlesbrough, Port Talbot and Scunthorpe.  It is right that the government should be asked the question of “what about the UK?”

Yet, perhaps we are asking of the wrong government?  Maybe Mr Cameron should be calling in some long-overdue favours?

“Shri?  Dave, here.  You know we’ve been sending you billions in aid for decades?  Have a word with Cyrus, will you?”

What a difference a year makes.  What a difference a quarter makes, in fact.  While we are undoubtedly one of the richest and most fortunate countries in the world and while we should continue to ‘do our bit’ globally, failure to save this vital industry will make calls to continue donating overseas fatuous (at best).  Furthermore, the inability of the UK to apply subsidies artificially plays straight into the hands of the pro-BREXIT campaign (one for another day, I fear).

What are your thoughts on the plight of the UK Steel Industry?  Do you believe it should be saved?  At all costs?  Who is responsible?  Let’s get the discussion started in the comments section below.


Iain P W Robertson March 31, 2016

Hello Matt.
You make some highly valid points in your discourse, however brief it is. In fact, brevity is the real answer. There is no time to contemplate, as it is a luxury too readily squandered. The PM should be doing more than carrying out another PR exercise, because it will surely backfire. There is only one true course and, while re-nationalisation might have some inevitable pains attached to it, at a time of unforeseen economic intensity, it is a valid solution. However, work must be carried out on the exit strategy, to ensure that losses are not incurred, or perpetuated (I am thinking about the Lloyds Bank debacle here). The PM ought to consider making instructions clear to ALL British manufacturing firms that use steel products in their finished items that they MUST BUY ‘BRITISH’ and that alternatives are not in the best interests of the nation.
Iain R.

Matt Osborne March 31, 2016

Buying British is a brilliant idea, Iain. Let’s be brave as a nation and start applying levies on imported steel,too. This apparent ‘breach of EU rules’ doesn’t seem to have dissuaded Sweden from doing so!

Gary Hancox April 2, 2016

Great points raised above gentlemen. Plus, we need to maintain and develop our abilities and skills within this industry to manufacture tools for our armed forces.

Matt Osborne April 2, 2016

You’re right, Gary. With all the shipbuilding and car manufacturing taking place – we would do remember (as a nation) that UK Steel is a strategic capability.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *