Should we be concerned about the welfare of the people made redundant at Tata Steel? Sure, absolutely. But I don't remember people talking about recalling parliament when Burberry closed its factory in Treorchy a few years ago at the loss of 300 jobs. And I'd much rather take my chances with redundancy in Port Talbot than Rhondda. No-one talked about intervention when Comet went out of business, destroying 7000 jobs, or the 27000 Woolworth employees being put on the scrap heap.
The important thing about the Tata Steel story is that it has many angles that mean that the media can run numerous stories about it. These include things like:-
- union involvement, so conflict between political parties
- romanticised nostalgia about heavy industry
- single place, so "damaged community"
- a vague sense among the public that producing steel is strategically important
In reality, there is no difference between this and a clothing factory in the valleys closing. It's cheaper to make raincoats in Bangladesh or China, so production moves to China or Bangladesh.
What are the practical things we can do? Well, we generally disapprove of tariffs, so we shouldn't do that. I'd suggest two things: a) reducing taxes in poorer areas, and the efficient way to do that is to switch more tax to LVT and b) getting serious about retraining.