Is there another sad passing still to come?
News that pop star Prince had died has capped what can only be described as a thoroughly miserable first four months of 2016, where we lost more big name personalities than in any other period I can think of. These were people not simply loved for their ability and contribution to arts, media, sport, business and politics, but who profoundly changed the lives of so many around them. Victoria Wood, Terry Wogan, David Bowie, Ronnie Corbett, Alan Rickman, Johan Cruyff, Gareth Thomas, Sylvia Anderson, George Martin, Glen Frey and Ed Stewart are among those who have past away this year, many before their time, who I can personally say have had an influence on me over the years and who will be sadly missed. And we have lost more than another 70 global icons in the first third of the year.
All of these deaths are sad; many are tragic. Will 2016 turn out to be the worst year ever for the passing of stars and people of influence, or is it simply that these are icons I grew up with, and so I’m feeling it more personally? Perhaps every year is much the same, but the names are, to me, less familiar.
I have a suspicion, though, that there is an even bigger casualty in waiting, and without wanting to sound as though I am in any way trivialising the lives of the people I’ve admired and drawn inspiration from over the years, I think we have to fear for the UK steel industry, and the Government’s lack of commitment to having heavy industry of any kind in this country. Perhaps, while paying lip service, the Government is quietly happy to let yet another once-proud industrial sector wither and die. Perhaps its perennial preferred option of selling off UK industries to the highest international bidder means intervention to save steel production in this country has always been a non-starter. Perhaps it sees benefit in how the disappearance of steel production from the UK would positively impact on its carbon reduction target; if losing steel production means getting us over the 2020 emissions reduction target, does the Government feel it’s worth the price.
Any suggestions that UK steel operations might be nationalised have been quietly swept under the carpet. Maybe nationalisation would be a good thing, maybe it wouldn’t, but surely it’s worth a serious conversation. Instead, while looking for a buyer, the Government has been happy to accept low cost Chinese steel dumped into the market without any thought to whether import tariffs might be appropriate, and has looked on unconcerned as China has imposed 46% import tariffs of its own for steel coming into China. It all points, yet again, to a lack of commitment to UK industry. If it isn’t a bank or some other financial service sector, it doesn’t seem to register as important. I really hope that the mourning in 2016 is almost over. But somehow I suspect there is more still to come.
Mark Simms Editor
Industrial Technology - NEWS