Steel defines the community in which I live and has been central to my family’s own story. It was what brought my grandfather over from Ireland in the 1920s and it was the closure of Ravenscraig, after a decade of Thatcher government, that provided the catalyst for my involvement in the SNP.
The announcement that Liberty House will purchase the steel plants at Dalzell and Clydebridge marks the start of a new and optimistic chapter in the long history of Scotland’s iconic steel industry. I am proud that as part of the Scottish Steel Taskforce I could play a small part in securing the future of an industry that has meant so much to my community and family.
When Tata steel announced the closure of the plants just a few months ago, the future looked bleak. However, the Scottish Government acted swiftly by establishing a Scottish Steel Taskforce to ensure that everyone, including local representatives and trade unions, worked together to save the steel plants.
As part of my role on the taskforce, I took the opportunity to attend a major European Commission conference on energy intensive industries to examine the opportunities for Scotland’s steel industry. This conference informed the work of the taskforce, ensuring that we learned from our European neighbours whose heavy industries are facing similar pressures.
Out of the taskforce’s work the Scottish Government took action to ensure that the plants were attractive to potential investors, including committing to cutting business rates. An investment of £195,000 has also been made by the SNP government to keep key workers on standby to safeguard full manufacturing capability, ensuring the plant can get back up and running as quickly as possible.
This action from the Scottish Government – and the dedication of the Business Minister Fergus Ewing – has been instrumental in securing a bright future for these steel plants and the jobs of hundreds of people in Lanarkshire.
In the past, Scotland’s iconic industries were left to wither and die by remote Westminster Governments. It is absolutely clear that when we face difficult economic challenges only an SNP government can be trusted to work in partnership with businesses and trade unions to protect jobs.
Clare Adamson is the SNP Candidate for Motherwell and Wishaw
Photograph from First Minister of Scotland on Flickr