Ian Murray: Royal Mail sell off won’t deliver

Picture: Toby Williams
Picture: Toby Williams
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The Tory-Lib Dem government confirmed this week that they will sell-off the UK’s much-cherished Royal Mail in a matter of weeks.

Our postal provider is one of the last publicly-owned institutions and we all rely on its six-day-a-week, one-price-goes-anywhere service, from the hospital appointment to knowing the birthday card we’ve sent is going to arrive in time.

That is why the Government’s plans are so dangerous. They have not addressed concerns over the sale’s impact on consumers, businesses and communities.

I have visited sorting offices in my own constituency and have seen for myself the hard work which postmen and women have put into improving efficiency and supporting modernisation. This dedication saw Edinburgh posties recognised as the most efficient in Scotland, something which deserves huge congratulations. They have had 
a big part to play in the firm’s 
£400 million profit in the past year.

But rather than support these improvements, the Government wants to sell Royal Mail on the cheap to fill the hole left by George Osborne’s failed economic plans. The taxpayer has already taken on the billions of Royal Mail pension losses and now faces losing future profits.

Our local post offices will suffer, too. The National Federation of Sub-Postmasters tells us the privatisation of Royal Mail threatens the future of the post office network and called it a “reckless gamble”. For older people and small businesses in particular, the local post office is a lifeline.

David Cameron doesn’t need it and it’s clear the public doesn’t want it. Studies show seven out of ten customers and 96 per cent of staff don’t want it – and thousands of people across Edinburgh will feel the same. The case for privatisation has not been made and the Government has failed to ensure Royal Mail’s high standards will be maintained, while ignoring widespread opposition to the policy.

The Tories and Lib Dems are privatising the Queen’s head, and they must stop before it is too late.

Ian Murray is MP for Edinburgh South and Labour’s shadow minister for postal affairs.