Royal Mail is being ‘sold off on the cheap’, says Chuka Umunna

September 12, 2013 11:00 am

Today, the government officially confirmed to stock markets that Royal Mail will be privatised in the coming weeks. Estimates put the sale of the postal service at £3 billion when its shares hit  trading floors in 4-6 weeks’ time. Labour have attacked the decision, saying Royal Mail is being ‘sold off on the cheap’. The government has said it will give 10% of the Royal Mail’s shares to its 150,000 postal workers, but the postal union CWU have also opposed the privatisation and are balloting members on strike action. Many predict postal strikes will take place from 10th October onwards.

Chuka Umunna, Shadow Business Secretary, says the government’s privatisation is ‘politically motivated’:

“Ministers are pushing ahead with this politically-motivated fire sale of Royal Mail to fill the hole left by George Osborne’s failed plan. The Government has not addressed the huge concerns which remain on the impact the Royal Mail sale will have on consumers, businesses and communities.”

In July, Chuka Umunna said that the government’s plan to privatise the Royal Mail was a travesty:

“This treasured national institution is being sold off on the cheap to get income quickly to a Treasury whose economic strategy has failed. We oppose the government’s privatisation of Royal Mail. Maintaining the Royal Mail in public ownership gives the taxpayer an ongoing direct interest of universal postal services in this country […] and it ensures the taxpayer gets the share in the upside of modernisation and the increased profits which Royal Mail delivers.”

Chuka Umunna also pointed to figures showing the Royal Mail’s profits have more than doubled to £403 million, which means the Royal Mail in public hands could have been self-funded in future and not dependent on government subsidies. The CWU’s deputy leader Dave Ward, agrees:

“I really do not understand what the Government are trying to achieve by this. If you think about the profits the Royal Mail are now making, there’s no need for it to be privatised. What privatisation will do is destroy the UK’s universal postal service. There’s no way private companies can maintain six-day-a-week deliveries to every single address in the UK.”

  • Daniel Speight

    I hope this is a principled objection to privatization of the post office on the basis that it should always be in public ownership. Maybe there are some that can now see the damage done to the party by Mandelson and company’s call to sell off the post office under the last Labour government.

    • http://twitter.com/waterwards dave stone

      The problem with principled objections is that they have to be applied generally (to attain ‘principle’ status).

      And if the principle is to be applied generally then there will be no reason to exclude the railways, the NHS, and various utilities etc.

      Will Labour be so radical?

      From Labour we should concern for jobs and the universal service. But not not principled opposition to privatisation. That’ll be left to the posties themselves.

  • http://twitter.com/waterwards dave stone

    Perhaps Chuka could tell us how much Labour would be prepared to accept for the sell-off.

    • rekrab

      Exactly Dave! “sold off on the cheap” come on Chuka, please tell?

      and least we forget the tie in with a modernisation plan for the posts offices to!

      Can we expect Chuka and co on the picket lines? not a hope in hell.

      • http://twitter.com/waterwards dave stone

        Interesting little extract, regarding Brown’s 2009 attempt to privatise the Royal Mail, taken from Mandelson’s autobiography:

        ““The CWU began to lean on Labour MPs to oppose the reforms, and to warn that they would withhold support from candidates in marginal seats who backed the government’s plan. That was no empty threat. The CWU was one of Labour’s largest union sponsors, donating hundred of thousands of pounds to the national and local coffers. It used every political tool it could think of to try and whip up sentiment against the Hooper Plan and modernisation.”

        No guesses as to how the outcome would’ve been different if the TU’s collective relationship with the LP didn’t exist!

        • rekrab

          Absolutely Dave, I had it with all this murky tosh!

          Let the dog see the hare, suspend all funding and support, lets sort this out.

        • BillFrancisOConnor

          Point is it worked didn’t it?

    • BillFrancisOConnor

      Yesterday you said that EM had kept quiet on the issue – the day before Cable announced it. Now we’ve condemned the privatisation you’ve lambasted us.

      It also sounds like you’ve read the headline of this article and not the piece itself. In your eagerness to take a pop at Labour, perhaps you couldn’t be bothered. Here’s what Chuka actually said:

      ‘We oppose the government’s privatisation of Royal Mail. Maintaining the Royal Mail in public ownership gives the taxpayer an ongoing direct interest of universal postal services in this country […] and it ensures the taxpayer gets the share in the upside of modernisation and the increased profits which Royal Mail delivers.’

      That’s pretty unequivocal isn’t it?

  • Monkey_Bach

    I bet Peter Mandelson is happy. Eeek.

  • treborc1

    And large yachts, to dine the oligarchs

  • Pingback: The government lost £750 million in a single day. | rail replacement service

Latest

  • News Clegg accused of using public money to fund party strategist

    Clegg accused of using public money to fund party strategist

    Nigel Farage has come under fire today over his use of public money, accused of claiming expenses for an office on which he pays no rent – but he’s not the only political figure accused of using taxpayers’ money to fund his party today. Nick Clegg could be summoned in front of a Commons select committee to explain the role of Ryan Coetzee, his most senior special adviser. Mr Coetzee’s official job title is Head of Strategy and he is […]

    Read more →
  • Featured The government are trying to tell you that you’re not squeezed. They’re wrong

    The government are trying to tell you that you’re not squeezed. They’re wrong

    Have you heard? You’re not squeezed anymore. That’s right! After four years of prices rising faster than wages, meaning you’re worse off each month than you were the month before, it’s all ok again and you can get back on with your lives. Rejoice! What’s that you say? You don’t feel any better off? That four years of declining living standards have left your monthly budget a monthly chore? You’re beholden to credit card companies, payday loan companies or even […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Featured Talk of a breakaway “Workers’ Party” is dangerous and wrong

    Talk of a breakaway “Workers’ Party” is dangerous and wrong

    On Friday, for the second time in recent weeks, Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey said something really important and dangerous that ought to have caused a reaction across the entire labour movement and Labour Party. But virtually no one reacted. According to the Guardian Len “repeated his warning that his members may force a split from Labour and urge support for a new workers’ party if Miliband fails to set out a radical vision to inspire people before the next […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Jim Murphy has set out an ambitious (and Labour) vision for development

    Jim Murphy has set out an ambitious (and Labour) vision for development

    Since its earliest days Labour has been an internationalist party and proud of it, too. From Keir Hardy and Harold Wilson to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, those who shaped Labour’s vision in the 20th and early 21st Century regarded the fight against poverty overseas as a natural extension of the fight against poverty at home. If Labour wins in 2015, we look forward to our proud tradition continuing. But with the clear focus of the current leadership on the […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Party democracy is important, so let’s fight for it

    Party democracy is important, so let’s fight for it

    Contrary to popular belief (and by popular belief, I mean the belief that prevails amongst the Shadow Cabinet and its apparatchiks) the Labour Party does not exist as a fan club for the Parliamentary faction. The Labour Party is an instrument through which ordinary people can shape their own lives and change the future of this country in a direction that is beneficial to our people. The recent decision by the Labour leadership to vote with the Coalition and implement […]

    Read more →