Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Why Tories Shouldn't Gloat About Mandy's Post Office Problems

Jon Craig takes great pleasure in recounting how the Labour Party has turned on Peter Mandelson for his statement this afternoon on the future of the Post Office. Nick Robinson seems to be licking his lips too.

Yet again the dinosaurs in the Labour Party threatens to thwart a much needed reform of a public sector institution. If they looked across the channel and saw how private sector involvement has revitalised the German Post Office, maybe they might not be behaving like ostriches.

In the past the Conservatives have come to Tony Blair's aid and helped drive through much needed reforms in education and health. Sadly I don't see it happening this time. Even though most Tories know that there needs to be some private sector involvement in the Post Office, they know it's a difficult 'sell' to the electorate. Many will remember the time when Michael Heseltine attempted something similar and had to withdraw with his mane between his legs. And there will be others who will delight in seeing Mandy having to eat humble pie.

But whatever short term pleasure seeing Mandelson in the mire might bring, no one escape the harsh reality. And the harsh reality here is that Peter Mandelson is right.

24 comments:

Raedwald said...

A universal postal service is one of the bedrocks of a civilised society. The price of a letter to a remote home in the Highlands, to a farm in Devon, or to a townhouse in W1 are the same; standards of service are the same, with daily deliveries and a sorting and distribution service that is integrated across the realm.

Are we to replace this with some tedious and mediocre service organisation with a mission statement, a call centre in Bombay to which to complain about lost mail, higher charges for uneconomic delivery areas and a fragmentation of the realm, a disengaged and demoralised workforce with massive churn and increased propensity to theft and fraud, a management structure as deaf to customer anger as our public utilities have become, and the corrosive and baleful destruction of something far more valuable than the price of a stamp?

I too am a conservative, but the rape of Post Office is a step too far. Mandelson is wrong about this as he is about much else.

Rob Atkins said...

Iain - there is a small typo in your piece. You describe Peter Mandelson as 'the Business Secretary', when it should read 'the grasping opportunist who will say and do anything to get and keep power'

The Refuser said...

Who is behind this privatization? Surely not our overlords in Europe? As for Mandelson. My opinion of this creature is unprintable.

Tractor Stats said...

Privatising the Post Office would be like privatising Government.

Chris Paul said...

And that makes Iain Dale right. Far better this than a full privatisation. Or losing any part of the trilogy from public control.

The tricky thing is protecting the Post from the eventuality of full privatisation and cherry picking via your lot.

But the way they're carrying on they're close to innoculating us from that possibility.

Mr Skinner had a good point though didn't he? About the complete Horlicks of the Rail TOCs, and the water, and the other utilities.

John Moss said...

The "Conservative" in me tells me that we should have stuck two fingers up at the EU when it demanded liberalisation of postal services.

The Royal Mail was one institution worth saving, for all its flaws. It should not have been sacrificed on the alter of free market liberalisation.

If we can't have our Royal Mial back, then lets go the whole hog with out and out competition. Madelson's solution will be a privatised monopoly - the worst of all worlds!

King John said...

wv "unded" well, that sums up the business secretary nicely!

Unsworth said...

Isn't the art of politics to get your opponents to introduce measures which are condemned by the electorate - but which you would want to do? If Mandelson gets his way, in the teeth of opposition from his own party and of the public at large, it will benefit the Conservatives in many more ways than one.

MattyT said...

Chris Paul's posts are usually pithy, to the point and a load of #rap. I find his latest to be totally opaque - is he on some inside track (or indeed drug) ? Genuinely wonder

Chris said...

Quite right. I trust you feel insulted.

WV: aninsi (the dyslexic West African spider.)

Anoneumouse said...

Wake up you dippy buggers, this isn’t about the Lord Mandelson and the Richard Hooper report which describs the current Royal Mail as “untenable”

Its about the European Union and its Postal Directive 2008/06/EC

It was back in 2006 that the EU commissioner for the internal market told Member State governments across the European Union that they must scrap their monopoly on delivering letters by 2009.

It is the European Union that will be making UK workers redundant.

Wake up and smell the elephant shit

Ruth@VS said...

Iain, you are right, and though it hurts me to agree with Mandelson, he is right too.

I have been discussing this with my Mum this evening, and she was horrified to see footage of the sorting office in Bolton, where, after the machines had sorted mail into large bags, a bunch of people then took it out of the bags and sorted it into pigeon holes to organise the delivery bags. She said they used to do that when she worked there in the 1950s.

How can it be right to do the bulk mail sorting by machine and then organise the bags by hand?

RM is in a mess, and yes, the government owes some responsibility for it. But we must also lay some blame at the door of the unions, who have resisted change in order to protect jobs which should have gone long ago.

No private company is perfect, but RM is in such a state only radical change will generate the leaps forward needed. I've done this kind of work in the past and it's hard, but sometimes you have to make brave and unpopular decisions.

And by the way, there are people in RM and PO who think this way, they're just drowned out by the dinosaurs.

strapworld said...

Iain, Let us be honest please.

Not one news broadcast. Not one politician is prepared to admit this is all because of a European Directive! end of story. We are being directed to do it!

Governments have under funded the Royal Mail for years and years.

Like the railways the Postal service led the world. Now it is a skeleton of its former self.

I heard a Tory business spokesperson on the radio yesterday and he was saying that it was right to privatise parts of the Royal Mail. he said it had been underfunded because it was a State run business.

His logic demands that the Armed Services, Police and the NHS all be privatised.

It is about time people awoke from their deep sleep and realise that this once great country is being torn apart by the undemocratic communistic EU.

Mr Mr said...

You are quite right Iain.

And all this cr&p about Cornwall getting an advantage fom the Post Office rates is just Cr8p.

TNT, Parcel Force, UPS and whoever you care to name charge the same rate to Cornwall as they do Tunbridge Wells and these firms are NOT state financed charities.

Houdini said...

You're being extremely silly by not looking at who is behind the destruction of Royal Mail, and that is the Labour party. They, since 1997, have deliberately run it into the ground in order to make it ripe for selling off because it is not performing and needs revitalising as an excuse to do just that.

In 1997 Royal Mail had 60,000 more employees than today, made more than double the deliveries to private addresses, as well as having a Sunday pick-up, and running a large rail service too, and all that while making £500million of profit. With the cuts in services and personnel you would have thought they would be making £500 million more TODAY So what happened?

One of the first acts of the Labour Government was to take the profit of Royal Mail and chuck it into the kitty of the Treasury instead of allowing it to invest that profit in infrastructure, and little things like pensions.

So we have had now near 12 years of chronic underinvestment and deliberate decline.

THAT is what you and the Tories should be shouting about, not more bloody reform of this criminally near destroyed institution.

Jimmy said...

"So what happened?"

I'll give you a clue Einstein. You're using it.

BrianSJ said...

Houdini is on to something with where money comes and goes between RM and the Treasury. Some very non-transparent dealings there.

Bill Quango MP said...

Mr Mr..you are wrong.Raedwald is right.

TNT etc only charge the same rate Penzance to Dover because thy get Royal mail to deliver the letters for them at a cost to themselves of just 16 pence.

What do TNT charge you for a letter? 50p? £1.00? Even at the national rate of 36p its still a healthy 20p profit per letter. especially as you have to do nothing except collect letters from business customers, take them to your warehouse and get Royal mail to pick them up and sort them and deliver them for you.

If you are talking parcels then the average TNT 2kg parcel by 9am would be £28.00.
Parcelforce charge around £15 and RM around £9.
Stats straight of the latest chart.

Without royal mail what do you think the price of a leter would be.Seeing as 2nd class already makes a loss of 6p each it would need to go from its current 27p to at least around 43p to be viable at all.
during the fuel price rises this year the royal mail increased its prices by 0% even though it is a road business.
But the rail and bus companies added "increased diesel costs" to their fares. do you think a private sector mail would not follow suit.
Have your phone/rail/water/power bills risen or fallen sharply since privatisation?

Anyway this probably isn't about privatisation anyway. Its about pensions and government borrowing and gordonomics

Houdini said...

"So what happened?"

I'll give you a clue Einstein. You're using it.


Then, Einstein, how come TNT want to take the job? FedEx? Royal Mail still making money?

Ooops, hold on, now I see, you are trying to make excuses for Labours criminal destruction of RM...

davidc said...

a p.o. union leader (sorry can't remember his name) said yesterday (tuesday) that the effect of this proposal was to nationalise debt (the pension fund) while privatising profit.

any comment on this from the economists out there ?

Rossa said...

davidc, you don't need to be an economist to know that. Any company or organisation that is bailed out by taxpayers money is effectively doing just that, socialising the debt. Just think of Rover, British Rail/Network Rail, Northern Rock and the rest of the banks etc.

So China got Rover for £1 and the directors walked off with their millions and the taxpayer has even more debt around his/her neck.

In the headlines today....Goldman Sachs gets 6.7bn but has "reduced" its bonus pot to ONLY 4.3bn, paid for by the taxpayer. Do you think if they hadn't been bailed out they would have been able to pay any bonuses at all?

This is not aimed at the everyday working person, it's always the directors, partners and shareholders who share the "profits". You and I just pick up the tab again and again.

Jimmy said...

Houdini,

No I was answering your very silly question as to why private mail deliveries have declined in recent years. It's probably more likely to be due to the rise of e-mail than a Labour Government, but then you're probably one of those who blames them when it rains.

Houdini said...

No I was answering your very silly question as to why private mail deliveries have declined in recent years. It's probably more likely to be due to the rise of e-mail than a Labour Government, but then you're probably one of those who blames them when it rains.

No, you silly plonker, mails hasn't declined, there is the same amount in and out of post boxes, but the delivery and pickups have declined. Think carefully and slllooowwwllllyyyyyyyy, that mail use and deliveries/collections are not the same thing.

I suppose the fax killed RM before email eh?

Jimmy said...

Houdini,

I understand what your statement means. It happens to be false. Mail deliveries are declining worldwide for reason which prior to your post I would have thought too obvious to point out.