Lord Heseltine says now is 'as good a time' as any to be made redundant while speaking about British steel job losses

'The market is unstoppable and invariably it wins'

Ian Johnston
Sunday 25 October 2015 21:31
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Lord Heseltine was speaking about the loss of 3,500 steel industry jobs
Lord Heseltine was speaking about the loss of 3,500 steel industry jobs

Lord Heseltine, the former Deputy Prime Minister and an economic adviser to David Cameron, has claimed that now is “as good a time” as any to be made redundant.

Speaking about the Government’s decision not to do more to save the British steel industry, which has shed 3,500 jobs in recent weeks, the Tory peer said many new jobs were being created, which he described as a “very exciting” feature of the current economic situation.

However, his remarks were condemned by Labour and union leaders. Anna Turley, MP for Redcar – where the SSI steel plant closed with the loss of 1,700 jobs – tweeted that his remarks were “disgusting” and showed his party were the “same old Tories”.

Speaking to Sky News, Lord Heseltine suggested the Government could do little to save businesses in trouble. “If you ignore market forces the chances are that you will have an industrial strategy based on supporting yesterday’s industry,” he said.

“The market is unstoppable and invariably it wins. There is an over-supply of steel and so trying to sustain individual plants is a very expensive and questionable activity.

“Very painful for the people who suffer but, on the other hand, if you are going to lose your job this is probably as good a time, because the number of new jobs in the economy today is one of the most exciting features of this economy compared with many others.”

Ms Turley said that Lord Heseltine’s “insulting remarks show how the Tories just haven’t changed”.

“There’s never a good time to lose your job. And he further insults the dignity of highly skilled steel workers, many of whom have decades of experience and expertise,” she said in a statement.

John Park, of the steelworkers’ union Community, said Lord Heseltine’s remarks betrayed a “fundamental misunderstanding of Britain’s steel industry”. He added: “Rather than shrugging their shoulders on television, the Tories should be helping to save our steel industry with an active industrial strategy.”

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