Your editorial (23 May) is surely right to say that Scunthorpe steelworks’ distress was forged in the fires of Brexit, for which this government ought to take responsibility. Jeremy Corbyn ought also to take responsibility, for failing to make the case against Brexit clearly both before and after the referendum.
But political infighting is not going to support Scunthorpe and its steelworks. Politicians of goodwill on all sides could perhaps investigate with local people new means of ownership and management of the steelworks, possibly with EU help. These might include a co-operative model, a workers’ or management buyout, a partnership between the government and third-sector organisations, or a completely new model rooted in local circumstances.
Scunthorpe and British Steel are an important part of a strategic industry. They have not been served well by distant ownership and venture capitalists. A non-partisan effort, crucially involving local people and organisations, could attract government and European support for a regionally based and controlled restructuring of British Steel that would prevent the fires going out.
Bo’ness, West Lothian
• The collapse of British Steel (Front page, 23 May) has come at the worst possible time – when we’re effectively without a working government. The complex – and ultimately highly successful – acquisition of the core assets of Rolls Royce by the Heath government in 1971 was carried out by top people with imagination and long-term vision. Notwithstanding the issues regarding worldwide overproduction and the impact of cheap Chinese imports, there are lessons to be gained from this earlier model, and– in the long term – a vital industry might be made viable again. Such an outcome, of course, would demand a change of government as soon as possible.
Eastbourne, East Sussex
• The UK steel sector is a strategic resource in terms of servicing the defence of the realm and critical UK-wide infrastructure – an economic imperative. A state takeover is infinitely preferable to closing down. And UK steel has a well deserved reputation for quality of finish. One immediate action that the government should take now is to scrap or at least modify the job-destroying carbon levy. This has proved a millstone around the neck of blue-collar industry.
Fittleworth, West Sussex
• The British Steel crisis shows the danger of allowing tens of thousands of people’s livelihoods to be put into the hands of private equity firms. Those people – and every other citizen – could be rescued from insecurity by a citizen’s income. If the government assumed its responsibility for issuing money then, instead of allowing banks to issue 97% of money as debt, the government could issue 100% of money as social credit. This could fund a state income big enough to replace wages, pensions and benefits, and could also fund social spending.
• For British Steel, see Rover and BHS, Monarch etc. Successive governments have either been hoodwinked by or connived with the private equity funds and unscrupulous businessmen to hand them chunks of corporate UK for nothing and allow them to strip out the assets or pay themselves fortunes through legal but immoral financial engineering, leaving workers on the scrapheap. That is Britain today, the land of inequality.
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