Big Eye, April 5, 2016

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No Caption ABCDE PPP-160303-135352001
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With the announcement that the Indian owners of Port Talbot steelworks are pulling the plug on this lossmaking business, it set me wondering about what our horrendously indebted Government might be prepared to do to save the jobs and the community that relies upon 40,000 pay packets generated by Tata every month. Any money they throw at this Welsh town will represent a subsidy and if there’s one thing that will guarantee a verbal punch up at any dinner table it’s subsidies.

We can all see that so much of our cultural and community infrastructure relies upon handouts (see also Grants, Funding, Sponsorship and Donations) and usually these parts of our lives are regarded as less-than-vital to our daily existence and in times of financial crisis may have to be rationed. It could be argued that the people of Port Talbot have a greater need of Whitehall cash than some poorly attended art gallery in Lynn or that food banks dealing with people living on the breadline should take

priority over all of the

above.

Subsidies are hugely divisive and although we live in a civilised society and have a welfare state that the rest of the world used to envy, we only have one clumsy broad brush to decide where the money is spent..and that’s an election every five years. In ludicrously simplistic terms, you could either vote for a socialist or a capitalist candidate and probably end up with a Government who is likely to either subsidise the workers or their bosses.

Today’s problem is that there is no money for any side and tough decisions have to be made which will inevitably cause hardship and suffering…or will it? The forthcoming EU Referendum has taken a bit of a back seat in the press after the initial snorting and stamping in London and although there are daily witterings and snippets in the media there appears to be no clarity, truth, facts or direction from anyone regarding how we make our minds up. One thing is for certain, the biggest chunk of the EU budget to which we annually contribute is concerned with one group of people. The farmers! Across Europe they are the single largest beneficiary of Strasbourg’s coffers and, unlike the steelworkers of Port Talbot, it has been argued that it is unfair to hand over such huge sums to an industry that, overall, has no need of it. A few years ago the New Zealanders were stunned by announcements that there would be no more subsidy payments to agriculture. It was time for Kiwis to take a ‘cold bath’ and learn to farm profitably without support! The weak and the lame were weeded out and NZ agriculture is booming.

Over £3.4 billion gets doled out annually in the UK to farmers and if Brexit is your decision, maybe it’s time for their money to be redirected towards those who really need it…but whether furnaces or breadbaskets should be the recipients is for you to decide!