The steel industry seems to appeal to the front pages in a way that others do not. Perhaps those red-hot flows stir something in us, maybe the dangerous working conditions invoke a sense of heroic endeavour, maybe we are proud of our industrial past. Maybe we just liked The Full Monty.
Anyway, we know that the steel industry is in decline, and not just because of overcapacity in China leading to a flood of imports. Manufacturing industry now makes up only 10% of the UK economy.
George Osborne promised us a "march of the makers". That has not appeared. The UK current account (of which the balance of trade is one part) is in the largest deficit ever. What remains of heavy industry appears to be buckling under the weight of energy costs, and the rest of the economy seems to be slowing down.
So what should be done? Should the government prop up steel? Should it raise the drawbridges on foreign trade? The panicked reaction of the government does not bode well for free-marketeers. A good reason to be concerned about the stance on trade post-Brexit. The recyclability of tea bags will be the least of our worries.
Instead of yearning for the days of British Steel, the Austin Allegro, and waiting six months for the Post Office to install a party line, the UK needs to push on and improve its competitiveness. Only that way can the economy generate the products and services which keep us all afloat.
So what practical steps can the government take?
Energy: there is no face-saving way out: the government should announce that the new nuclear programme cannot work in its current form. If firms want to build new power stations then they will be free to do so, but without pre-determined wholesale prices. As ND points out, these "contracts for difference" distort the market and mean that investment in all types of generation is drying up. There should be a complete sweeping away of the thicket of taxes (for that is what they are) and subsidies. If you want to build a power station, invest your own money and take your own risk. At the same time, the government could announce that it will fast-track applications for new developments using proven technology. That probably means gas and onshore wind, but let the market decide. The greens and NIMBYs will just have to lump it. Press ahead with fracking permits.
Sterling: it is obvious that the Pound is too strong. However, "devaluation" does not often work, and currency wars are not what the world needs. What does work is a rigorous and credible monetary framework. The government should re-affirm its commitment to 2% CPI inflation. It could tweak the Bank of England's mandate to target 2% average inflation, or it could be really radical and move to a nominal GDP target. Any of those points would imply looser money in the short term, which would surely soften Sterling.
Housebuilding: slash the red tape which holds back housebuilding and commercial developments. Create Docklands-style development corporations for large urban sites. Build new towns. Throw more money at councils and housing associations to build more subsidised housing.
Infrastructure: accelerate public-transport investment. Build more roads. Sort out the broadband industry. Say yes to Heathrow. Say yes to Gatwick. Improve rail links to Stansted.
Much of this stuff requires the authorities to take on vested interests. So it is time for Britain's leaders to lead. Forget focus groups and Yougov polls. Set out a vision and persuade people that it makes sense. We know what needs to happen. Just get on with it.