Deliverance: a Post Office fit for the future
29th May 2012
Postbank Coalition secretary Lindsay Mackie today (Tuesday)
launches a 46-page polemical pamphlet on the UK's postal
service. Entitled Deliverance: a Post Office fit for
the future it delves into the past and recent history
of the Post Office, explaining how successive governments have
wrought such damage, before coming back to the present day and
pointing out that there is a positive future - but it must be
Ahead of the official launch tonight at 18:30 at the Gunmakers Arms - close to Royal Mail's flagship Mount Pleasant site - Lindsay writes exclusively for the CWU about her unique publication...
There is something that works very well in an
institution that has clocked up 500 years of service. The Royal
Mail and Post Office began in the time of Henry VIII and have grown
and changed with society over that time.
The postal service covered the country, it made films and
nurtured designers, it allowed people to communicate heart to
heart, it went to war, it invented and innovated, it has employed
millions of men and women. Its history is intimately bound up with
the history of our society. It made money too- millions for the
Treasury until fairly recently.
So at a time when the deficiencies of a market model for
society- when the society becomes an adjunct to the market, rather
than the other way round- are increasingly visible, the intended
privatisation of Royal Mail, and the forced march of the Post
Office towards self sufficiency with virtually no Government
backing looks increasingly mad.
But that is what the Government is intent upon. The fate of
Royal Mail and the Post Office is a cautionary tale of the slow and
determined march of a neoliberal ideology which for 40 years has
determined on the privatisation of our postal services.
When Royal Mail was delivering shed loads of money to the
Treasury in the 1980s (through the External Financing Limit) the
Tories were desperate to sell it off. Now that profits have dropped
at Royal Mail (partly through the costs incurred by the now defunct
regulator PostComm) the call is the same. Although the Post Office
network is not for sale, the news last week that Tesco was
interested in taking over sub post offices for one of its
subsidiaries is a natural consequence of a privatising ideology.
I wrote this polemical pamphlet - Deliverance: A Post Office Fit
for the Future, www.fu.org.uk, to
argue that the British postal service- Royal Mail and the Post
Office- has been unnecessarily prepared for sell off (Royal Mail)
and pruned back and scaled down (the Post Office) .
There are many ways in which the Royal Mail and the Post Office
can be grown - to produce revenue certainly, but also to support a
society in the throes of big changes. Royal Mail has the potential
as a trusted national network to meet all the challenges of a new
digital age. A Post Bank which would provide local banking, high
levels of trust and convenience, possibly credit facilities and
certainly debt management programmes would strengthen local
communities and economies. At a time when millions of people are
prey to predatory loan sharks and payday lenders, to ignore the
potential of a Post Bank is poor planning indeed.
Deliverance describes how:
- the power of local economies underpins the national economy. Post Offices - all 11,500 of them - are key to this. The Post Office network epitomises trust at a time when trust is still evaporating in the financial sector.
- Post Offices should be built up as an economic and social network which helps underpin local communities.
- at a time when the main high street banks which failed so badly
in 2008 still enjoy substantial, and often hidden public subsidy,
the Government is withdrawing public funding from the reliable Post
Office network, and insisting that by 2015 it will need to be
self-supporting. Separately, even the modest proposed reforms for
the major banks will not be implemented until 2018.
Do we want to marketise our society entirely, or retain the
institutions that nourish and support our better selves and our
communities? The Royal Mail and the Post Office are key to this
For further information contact Lindsay Mackie on email@example.com
Deliverance is published by The Human Element, and was developed with input and support from the Communication Workers Union, new economics foundation and Compass. Views entirely the author's own.