Bill Carmichael: Green zealots to blame for steel's decline

TAKE a bow, you fashionable eco-warriors and your craven enablers in the political establishment.

The sun sets behind the Tata steel works in Port Talbot, Wales, as the steel giant confirmed plans to sell its UK assets, threatening thousands of job cuts.

Give yourselves a hearty pat on the back, because you have achieved something quite remarkable – the complete destruction of a once great British industry and the loss of tens of thousands of jobs.

Because let’s get one thing absolutely clear – the decline of the steel industry is no unhappy accident, but happened as a result of deliberate policy dreamt up by eco-loons and adopted by successive governments.

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Back in 2008, in a fit of environmental zeal, the Labour government, guided by the then Climate Change Secretary, Ed Miliband, decided to make British energy the most expensive in the world.

They were explicitly warned at the time that this crazy policy would do little to solve global warming but would completely destroy huge swathes of British heavy industry.

Guenther Oettinger, a German politician who was then the EU’s Energy Commissioner, warned that a target of a 25 per cent reduction in greenhouse gases would lead to the “de-industrialisation” of Europe and the loss of thousands of jobs.

Miliband and his merry band of eco-zealots didn’t care – they imposed a 50 per cent cut in greenhouse gases plus a whole range of green taxes to artificially force up the price of energy.

As a result, British firms pay twice as much for electricity as companies in France and substantially more than our competitors around the world including in Europe and the USA.

And of course in China, which doesn’t care about global warming, they continue to burn cheap coal and subsidise steel manufacturing with the result that Chinese steel sells at about half the price of UK produced steel.

Despite all the hard work of British workers, our steel simply cannot compete on the world market because the industry has been hobbled by environmental fanatics.

That is why Tata, which has plants in Rotherham, Scunthorpe and Port Talbot employing about 15,000 people, is losing £1m a day – and those jobs are now at risk.

The deliberate sabotage of an important strategic industry may perhaps be justified if it stopped climate change – but it won’t.

The closure of every factory in Britain wouldn’t make the blindest bit of difference to average temperatures in 50 or 100 years time – not while the Chinese are opening four new coal-fired power stations every week. It is an entirely pointless sacrifice.

Now if we were an independent, free and sovereign nation perhaps there are actions we could take to help the steel workers.

The United States, for example, quickly imposed tariffs of 266 per cent on imported Chinese steel, thereby protecting domestic manufacturers and saving American jobs.

But the unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats in Brussels tell us we are not allowed to impose our own tariffs. Instead we must wade through a blizzard of paperwork and try to get the agreement of each of the other 27 member nations to eventually impose a tariff of just 24 per cent.

Again if we were an independent, free and sovereign nation perhaps, we could decide to use taxpayers’ money to help the steel industry, by way of direct subsidies or by ensuring that only British steel is used on any Government-funded projects.

But we can’t do that either. Margrethe Vestager, the European Commissioner for Competition – another unaccountable, unelected bureaucrat, who you didn’t vote into power and can’t kick out – has warned the UK that we are not allowed to use our own money to support our steelworkers, regardless of what our elected representatives in Westminster think. So much for democracy.

Of course other EU countries, such as Italy and Belgium, simply ignore these rules, as they usually do, and illegally subsidise their industries to protect jobs.

But we in the UK wouldn’t dream of breaking EU rules. We are obedient little slaves only too eager to do the bidding of our Brussels masters, regardless of the damage it does to our once-free country.

So RIP British steel – an industry destroyed by mad eco-fanatics, which we couldn’t save because the EU wouldn’t allow us to. That is the sad state of Britain in 2016. Our ancestors, who fought and died for our liberties, must be spinning in their graves.