STEELING OURSELVES: HONEY MCBEE’S BUZZ ROUND THE MEDIA

TUESDAY 5th APRIL: Focus this week has to be Port Talbot and the future – if any – of the UK steel industry. The commentariat swithered between nationalisation and the free market with the government looking increasingly hapless in between.  First, a must- read  from Dominic Lawson in the Sunday Times  with a broadside at Ed Miliband’s 2008 Climate Change Act which raised the price of energy for industry to cut down on CO2 emissions, a measure voted for , says Lawson, by all MPs save three Tories, who have never been promoted since.

Iain Macwhirter in The Herald compared government bail-out of the banks with the apparent unwillingness to nationalise the steel industry. The Scottish government indulged in brief state ownership to save the Dalyell and Clydebridge plants says Macwhirter, and “it seems the UK Government is actively considering some form of state intervention. It could be the biggest change in British industrial policy in decades”.

Sky News economics editor Edmund Conway looked back at the way Chinese steel production has grown, but saw light at the end of the tunnel for UK steel. The Soviet Union once dominate the world steel market, says Conway, but no longer. All things shall pass.

George Kerevan in yesterday’s National explained why George Osborne is fonder of China and the City than he is of Port Talbot workers. Rather less elegantly [and with free use of a four-letter word] Channel 4’s Paul Mason’s blog  was a tirade against neo-liberalism and free- marketeers who would happily see Port Talbot jobs go to the wall. Re-skilling, says Mason, when skill levels are so high in this industry, really means de-skilling.

And steel is not the only industry to lose jobs – Wednesday’s Huffington Post  had a sobering list of the major British industries that have collapsed over the past 40 years.

Gerry Hassan in the Sunday Mail [and re-posted on his blog] argued along the same lines, asking, “What part of Britain is not for sale? This tragedy isn’t just about the current Conservatives… it is a summation of the anti-industrial culture … ruling elites turned their noses at industry and manufacturing as dirty and unworthy of gentlemen. Such snobbery still exists today in the predominance of the City of London: the most subsidised part of Britain. The City does not make anything physical or tangible…”

And the lesson to learn? : From the US, the IEEE [electrical and electronics engineers] says we must still make things – “take away manufacturing and you’re left with selfies.” The world’s top economies – China, the US, Germany and Japan – are also the world’s leading manufacturers, says the IEEE; making things creates jobs. Surprisingly, Switzerland is up there too, with pharmaceuticals, machinery and agro-chemicals.

 

BEYOND BREXIT…

The dream shall never die:  might Brexit be the end of the line for UKIP if Remain wins?  Matthew Goodwin in Politico’s Wednesday posting  suggested a broader anti-EU coalition would live on. Eurosceptic leaders have been looking to the SNP post-indyref surge as a model for future ‘rebellion’.  UKIP is treading water at 10-15% in polls and needs, they say, to ’rebrand and change’. Place your bets on Farage just rolling over if the party does well in Holyrood and the Senedd…

And then there’s the sound of armies clashing by night – or conceivably, toys hurling from prams;   Magnus Gardham in the Herald reported on the monstrous battle of egos as the Brexit camps [three and rising] slog it out on the streets and in the halls to become the lead campaign recognised by the Electoral Commission on April 14th. Nothing like working together in a common cause, is there?

A must-read argument from Roland Smith for the Adam Smith Institute blog on why we should consign the EU to the history books; conceived for a different era, says Smith, and no longer a force for change…

Finally, for the psephologists amongst you, last week YouGov posted a fascinating and detailed breakdown of Remain and Brexit voters from the papers they read to their class and education. And yes, says YouGov, they do fit all the well-known stereotypes.

 

THERE’S MORE…

A Liberal helping:  following the revelation that part of Alistair Carmichael’s legal expenses were met by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, in a Bella Caledonia posting last week Alastair McIntosh looked at the close links between the nominally Quaker foundation’s various arms and the Liberal Party. A little too close for comfort, McIntosh concludes, deeming it an example of ‘agency capture’.  Interesting reading…

Big Brother, where art thou? : The Named Person scheme rolls out across Scotland in August.  It’s a marmite policy, attracting opprobrium and support, though apparently not in equal measure. Tom Peterkin in Scotland on Sunday looked at workings of the pilot. If you’ve no opinion yet, Peterkin’s article repays close reading. Most of us have children or grandchildren; all will be affected.

Going Public: Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale last week told the Fabian Review that she has a female partner. It is an intensely private matter, but she has chosen to go public and has received general support.  And why not?  Lallands Peat Worrier saluted her courage – it is no mean thing, even in 2016. Marianne Taylor in the Herald also commented that it reveals how much Scottish society has changed in recent years, even though there is still some way to go.

But it was Dugdale’s political positioning of Scottish Labour that came in for some flak from Lesley Riddoch in yesterday’s Scotsman.  A gaffe followed by a U-turn over independence has put her totally behind the Union, says Riddoch, no matter what. And that ground is already better occupied by Ruth Davidson…

Unknown Unknowns:  It’s been denied, of course, but there’s been a suggestion recently that Scotland’s Information Commissioner may be a little tardy when it comes to releasing data potentially embarrassing to the SNP government.  Former Labour Minister Brian Wilson in Saturday’s Scotsman looked at just a handful of delayed responses to requests. I am not so naïve”, says Wilson “as to believe that the denial of any single FoI request will make more than a marginal difference to the current mood of Scottish politics. But I am absolutely certain that the systematic contempt for Freedom of Information is symptomatic of a much wider malaise which cries out to be resisted”.

And while we’re talking secrets, why are we being treated like mushrooms over this deal with China? Another stooshie in the offing…

 

ELSEWHERE IN THE WORLD…

Prepare to shed them now: this frightening piece from Sofia Barbarani in the Sunday Telegraph comes under the twin headings ‘you ain’t seen nothing yet’ and ‘man’s inhumanity to man’.  Another tide of displaced people will soon be on the move, stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place, and neither the UN – nor anyone else it seems – has an answer.

There’s oil in them there waters: A UN commission has proposed an expansion of Argentine’s territorial waters that would mean they encompass the Falklands. Earlier in the year Jeremy Corbyn expressed an interest in power-sharing the islands with Argentina.  Listen to Labour Defence spokeswoman Emily Thornberry fighting a losing battle with Julia Hartley-Brewer and a former rear admiral on talkRADIO as she tries to reverse ferret.  If I was an islander, I would be afraid, very afraid…

No show without Trump: bit of background to The Donald’s takeover of the Republican Party, courtesy of the New York Observer. Last time an anti-establishment candidate got as close to the nomination was way back in 1940, when Wendell Willkie triumphed.  And, says Professor David Stebenne, there are many similarities.

 

AND FINALLY,..

The end of the civilised world as we know it: Thomas goes global and multicultural – as revealed briefly in Wednesday’s Conservative Woman. More awful details to follow apparently. We can almost hear the Rev Awdry birling in his grave…

 

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