It’s safe to say that the Tories aren’t exactly renowned for helping British industry thrive. Just ask any former miner, or any former steel worker, or any former ship builder – most of whom can blame their redundancies, and the destruction of their once-flourishing community, squarely on the decisions of a Conservative government.
Huge swathes of working class communities were literally built on the back of British industry. But in a few short decades of Tory rule, British industry had been essentially shut down, leaving many communities decimated, workless and impoverished.
The destruction of the steel industry, the mining industry and the ship building industry were all overseen and pushed forward relentlessly by the Tories with no regard for the consequences to the community.
Emboldened by a callous desire to simply outsource the work to cheaper labour in far off lands, British workers were left out of a job, industrial wastelands were left with no new employment for their communities, and huge numbers were left to simply exist on a meagre welfare cheque with little hope for the future.
It’s not surprising then, that during today’s launch of the new Tory Industrial Strategy, the notorious Beast of Bolsover – one of the only current MPs able to personally recall just how disgustingly the Tories treated the working classes in former British heavy industries – Dennis Skinner – decided to get very, very involved in the debate indeed.
Rising from his regular position in the House of Commons, Skinner started his question to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Greg Clark, by ridiculing the Tories’ track record on industry, stating:
Does the Minister seriously [think] that it’s possible to convince the country that a Tory government – A TORY GOVERNMENT – has got the capacity to introduce a decent industrial strategy?
And citing his own working class experience living under several decades of Tory rule, Skinner added:
In 18 Tory years whilst I was here, they closed down most of the ship building industry, they got rid of a lot of the steel industry, they closed every single pit, and now they’re buying 40m tonnes of coal from countries we don’t even trust. These are the actions of a Tory government.
The Tories on the opposite benches – most of whom have little recollection of the industrial destruction caused by their Tory predecessors – began to sneer at the veteran Labour MP.
And then, completely unfazed by the disrespect emanating from the Tory benches, Skinner went on to ridicule the Tories’ nonsensical employment figures, and defended Labour’s record in government in a blistering finish to his question, stating to Greg Clark:
And remember stop this nonsense trying to tell the people that unemployment now is less than after a Labour government, because the Labour government after the Second World War got it down to 2.2% – 440,000 – and when it hit a million, it was Ted Heath that was in government. What a lousy bunch!
However, rather than actually respond to any of Mr Skinner’s points, or attempt to defend the terrible consequences of the Tories’ previous catastrophic industrial strategies, an incredibly smug and patronising Clark told Skinner to simply calm down, stating:
To give him (Dennis Skinner) the opportunity to calm down and perhaps to reflect on the policies in here (in Clark’s new Tory Industrial Strategy document) I will give him a present. I will give him a copy of the industrial Strategy and I hope he will find it inspiring reading, and that he will come back to our next questions and look at the detail of the policies and bring himself to commend them.
You can watch the full argument below:
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