STEPHEN HEPBURN: Tories will let steel industry rust away

SSI in Redcar.
SSI in Redcar.

The devastating collapse of the giant SSI steelworks less than an hour’s drive from South Tyneside will be felt hard in our area.

The 2,200 workers dumped on the scrapheap is bound to include grafters from our area who travelled to and from Redcar every day to work.

Thousands more face redundancy in everything from the company’s suppliers to shops, cafes and pubs where the employees spent their wages.

And it will send shudders down the spines of Geordies who remember all the big-name firms along the Tyne that are gone.

So it’s a human tragedy and another bit of the North East’s industrial history is threatened when Teesside steel constructed some of the world’s most famous landmarks, from the Sydney Harbour Bridge to New York’s World Trade Centre. Many of the workers laid off were in the industry for decades – from boy to man.

I despair that our country’s Government is sitting back and letting the plant go down the tubes.

Labour found the money to save the banks. It wasn’t an entirely popular decision, I accept, but absolutely necessary when cash machines were about to run out of money.

Conservatives should find the funds to keep Redcar going until a buyer can be found. There’s always plenty of cash for David Cameron’s pet projects, including £1 billion for an inheritance tax cut for the wealthiest families.

Rather than follow the lead of the French, Germans and Italians, who back their steel industries, the Tories in London will let ours rust. Surprised? No, me neither.

It’s yet more proof, if more was needed, the Conservatives don’t give a hoot for us.

Unemployment in the North East remains worryingly high and wages are lower than most of the rest of the country.

We’ve been here before with the Tories, of course.

Thatcher swept through our area like a human wrecking ball, sinking shipyards, shutting mines and closing factories.

Now, 30 years on, history is repeating itself all over again.

Following his General Election win, David Cameron laughably claimed the Tories were the party for working people.

He did it again at the Tory Conference, managing to keep a straight face.

He even comically pledged that if you want to work hard and get on in life, this Government will be on your side.

Try telling that to the workers on Teesside who face a bleak future, to hard-working families losing out on their tax credits and those low-paid men and women who have no choice but to turn to local foodbanks just to put meals on the table.

The Tories are failing working people and families across Britain on a massive scale.