Tavish gives conference a postal guarantee

Tavish Scott, leader of the Lib Dems in Scotland, bravely took the stage on a wet Sunday morning at Liberal Demcrat conference, and gave a cast iron guarantee from Vince Cable on the Royal Mail and Post Office, following from the recent Government announcement that the Lib Dem policy to privatise Royal Mail whilst keeping the Post Offices in public ownership .

The reason behind privatising Royal Mail (the letter-delivering part) is to give it the ability to raise funds from private sources to modernise and improve, to challenge its private competitors.

The commitment from  from Vince Cable is:

1. Universal service obligation – delivery everywhere for a single standard price  is copper bottomed guarantee

2. Labour’s Post office closure programme will be halted

3. Postmen and women will be allowed shares in their company

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12 Comments

  • Joe Anderson 19th Sep '10 - 11:19am

    “3. Postmen and women will be allowed shares in their company”

    Well of course anyone can get shares in a company.

    The Royal Mail makes a profit. I really don’t see why it should be sold off. Labour’s plans to privatise it were so unpopular that Labour gave up; perhaps this Government should learn a lesson from that, rather than privatising public services out of ideological grounds.

  • Errr is that it pathetic the management are already pearing the service to the bone in preperation for profit led targets pity the poor customer.Also why should I want shares in something that as a taxpayer (whilst I’ve still got my job)I already own?.
    Your weasal assurances mean nothing to me youve announced cuts and already the managers at my childrens schools my childrens special needs unit social services who provide help for my childrens medical conditions are gleefully slashing away.And of course my emoployer Royal Mail have been vandelising our once proud public service for years in anticipation of the Tory rout.Little did my workmates teaching assistants and fellow parents of autistic children who foolishley voted for you realise that you would be propping up the new ragime.
    Regain a little honour and self respect leave the party and help bring this rotten government down.

  • >1. Universal service obligation – delivery everywhere for a single standard price is copper bottomed guarantee

    As long as that’s the case, I don’t see it matters who owns it. I suspect the public opposition is largely sentimentality: it’s the ROYAL Mail.

    Another part of the opposition no doubt is that all the sell-offs in the past have resulted, it seems, in poorer service. Because private companies instantly cut their costs by cutting staff. Privatised buses axed rural routes, etc. Train services charge sky-high fares while still being subsidised massive by the public purse.

    The problem with the RM now is that in recent years, the former party of state ownership allowed private operators to cherry-pick the profitable mail services, while expecting the RM to continue to provide the unprofitable ones – at a profit. And then wondered why it was in debt.
    Same with the post offices: government encouraging people to do more online, to use banks instead, etc. Apart from online, I’m not even sure where you can get a TV licence these days: taken away from the Post Office, for sure.

  • vince thurnell 19th Sep '10 - 12:29pm

    Cassie, but what it doesnt say is what that price is. Would you be happy with paying a universal price of say a pound a letter ?. The only problem Royal Mail has is that they are not allowed to compete on a level playing field, they process and deliver the cmpetitors mail at a loss and thats what needs to be addressed. As you point out train operators charge sky high prices for their service what makes you think Royal Mails new owners would be any different ?. If you can’t see what it matters who owns Royal Mail then i think you’re in for a big shock if its sold off. At the moment its a public service , once its sold of only one thing will matter and that is how much money it makes for its owners.

    As for the shares for postal workers, ask them whether they’d rather have a few shares or a job, i think i know what most would choose.

  • vince thurnell 19th Sep '10 - 12:39pm

    The other thing you could also find as in many parts of Europe is you went get a delivery every day . TNT who own the Dutch post office and would be one of the front runners to take over here only deliver to Rural areas three days a week.

  • @Iain Roberts

    why do you feel the need for so much sophistry in your articles? It was never LibDem policy to fully privatise Royal Mail, so why claim that it was? Why claim that the announced policy is LibDem policy when that isn’t the case?

  • Malcolm Todd 19th Sep '10 - 1:02pm

    I remain, as I was when Dark Lord Mandelson proposed this, deeply sceptical about the claim that RM privatisation is necessary “to give it the ability to raise funds from private sources”. Exactly what stops the Royal Mail from borrowing now, if that’s what it wants to do?
    My scepticism is only increased by the fact that privatisation of the business of the Royal Mail is apparently unachievable without the government’s taking over liability for its pension fund; yet it is only its pension fund liabilities that call into question the RM’s profitability in the first place. This is rather like holding a gun to a hostage’s head, while explaining that you are doing them a favour by demanding money from their relatives because when that money is handed over you will be able to stop pointing the gun. Memo to Vince: Just put the gun down…

  • >If you can’t see what it matters who owns Royal Mail then i think you’re in for a big shock if its sold off

    I said it doesn’t matter who owns it IF THE SERVICE IS GOOD/EQUAL.

    If the price of stamps goes up, if the service is reduced, then of course I’d be opposed to it. Duh.

    And yes, the RM has already been hammered – fewer collections, fewer deliveries etc. Under the watch of the previous government.

    >Vince The only problem Royal Mail has is that they are not allowed to compete on a level playing field, t

    Re-read my initial post. The bit where I said exactly that.

    It’s the state’s role to provide services the private sector can’t or won’t. Services where care is important and profit shouldn’t be.
    Not being a socialist, I don’t care who owns anything else.

    > RP …pathetic the management are already pearing the service to the bone in preperation for profit led targets

    Wasn’t this government started that. Didn’t notice Gordon Brown or anyone in the last government speaking out for the postal workers when they went on strike, either.

  • >privatisation of the business of the Royal Mail is apparently unachievable without the government’s taking over liability for its pension fund;

    Now that IS an argument against selling it off (not that I said in my first or second post that it should be).
    Selling off the profitable bits to the private sector while remaining liable for the financial burdens is why the rail sell-off was a disaster and why new nuclear power stations are to be treated with great caution.

    If someone wants to buy it, they should buy the pension liabilities as well, or the taxpayer will be funding the debts while the private owner pockets the profits.

  • vince thurnell 19th Sep '10 - 7:23pm

    Cassie, but its too late being opposed to it once its privatised and the price has gone up or the service has worsened duh. Once its sold off theres no going back , look at the other privatised industries , can you honestly say youve seen the prices stay the same or reduce or the service get better, it doesnt take eintsein to work out once the private sector takes it over the only thing that then drives that firm is profit. You don’t have to be a socialist to realise that some things should be a service not a cash cow for their shareholder.

  • >Cassie, but its too late being opposed to it once its privatised

    I think you misread my posts: maybe I didn’t express them clearly.
    1. In the first instance, I was just suggesting what the public objections to privatisation were, and…
    2. I think if it is sold off (and I didn’t say it should be), then guarantees like universal price etc are essential.
    But that if those guarantees ARE given (and that includes fair pricing, not £1 stamps, obviously), I have no ideological issue with who owns it
    3. I’ve already given the buses and trains as examples of where privatisation was done badly. Add to that the bit of the Tube that then went bust. If the government renationalised the trains tomorrow, I wouldn’t argue with that, either, because the Tories rushed the sell-off and made a hash of it.
    4. I have no idea what gas/electricity/phone prices/service would be like if we still had a monopoly.
    5. Ditto water. Which replaced one monopoly with lots of geographic mini-monopolies. Good for some, perhaps? I don’t know.
    6. You don’t have to be a right-winger to think if the customer gets a decent service at a fair price, profit isn’t an evil word.
    7. I’ve already said some things should be run as a service and not privately for profit. I think it’s terrible that care homes for the elderly, for instance, can close in an instant if the owner thinks there’s more money to be made selling the place off as flats.
    8. I believe in a mixed economy. And with the right safeguards, AND with the new owner accepting the liabilities as well as the assets, AND not coming cap in hand to the government for subsidies, then I wouldn’t have a problem if the RM was sold.
    Without those safeguards, if the state gets the debts and the new owner the profits (like with the banks), I don’t see the point in selling it off.

  • I would be happy to only receive mail 3x a week if it lowered the price. Most of it is not time sensitive. I certainly think it is odd if all the mail on a route is second class, for it to be delivered that day rather than the next. Yesterday I received a letter from Nick Clegg, a charity begging letter from a charity I don’t support, and a bank statement. None were really urgent.

    I would like it if RM would deliver mail correctly addressed to me, rather than a another street nearby with a completely different name. My credit card went there recently, and I had one for them as well. So to be honest I struggle to defend a monopoly that can’t get the basics right. If there was competition I would use a competitor, because of the rate of mis-deliveries (about 20 a year, and yes, I have reported it, and have a stack of letters saying it will never happen again).

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