The Tories have turned nasty. Now Labour must fight for Royal Mail to stay public

13th September, 2013 1:18 pm
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Housing, Raquel Rolnik, has discovered how nasty Britain’s ‘nasty party’, the Tory Party can be. The splenetic, spluttering anger of Housing Minister, Grant Shapps, that man of multiple identities, demonstrated beyond doubt that if you don’t like the message, shoot the messenger. Shapps hilariously has written to the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon, to complain about a Rapporteur who met with by Ministers, but didn’t come up with the right answers. Given that the UN Secretary General is now heavily involved with deadly serious attempts to resolve the Syrian civil war, I suspect answering Shapps’ silly letter will not be a priority.
The barrage of insults against her was joined by sections of the Tory media and the usual suspects from the puerile, boys-own, social media. Ms Roinik gave as good as she got and more. She also claimed that the reaction she has received in this country was the most hostile of anywhere. Perhaps she hadn’t realised that Britain is pioneering the process of becoming, in UN parlance, a ‘less developed state’.
In some ways, the treatment experienced by Ms Roinik in recent days is what is being doled out every day to the Labour leader, Ed Miliband. But this is only the beginning. What has yet to be unleashed by the Tory attack dogs, the Lynton Crosbys’ and the low-life of the far right blogo-sphere will dwarf the opprobrium now being heaped in order to intimidate. The trouble is that too often, instead of fighting fire with fire, Labour has ended up either abandoning the barricades – over alternatives to austerity for instance – or needlessly turning its fire on it’s own side, as with the frankly unworkable plans to end the collective voice of the unions from the party. But then neither does it help, when a succession of former Ministers, from John Prescott to David Blunkett, are wheeled out as ‘grandee critics’. In the case of Blunkett, he thinks that in order to win Labour needs to join the war party over Syria and ditch the party’s links with the unions.
According to Fraser Nelson, Editor of The Spectator, quoting – of course – from an unknown ‘source’; the Tories had been planning to make speeches attacking him [Ed Miliband] over the next few days; these have now been shelved. “Why should I bother,” asks one Tory minister, “when Labour does it so well?”
It is high time that Labour came out fighting on all cylinders. The party needs to be as bold as it should be confident. The response for instance to the new Newsnight Editor, Ian Katz’s highly unprofessional and frankly juvenile tweets, directed at front bencher, Rachel Reeves, is how it should be done. But now we need that toughness and direction of purpose from Labour’s front bench on a whole range of domestic policies, that toughness for instance that we saw over Syria.
Ed Miliband and the Labour Party were right over Syria. The stalling of the Prime Minister’s bombing plans has given a real opportunity for  a peaceful diplomatic settlement now to take place that would not have existed. In this the party reflected the mood of the country as a whole.
What better fight to pick with the Tories then than their extreme plan to sell off the Royal Mail? This policy is deeply unpopular with the public and defies any grounds of rationality. Yet at the moment, Labour front benchers are effectively running a Twitter commentary on a privatisation they appear to think is inevitable. It isn’t.
If Ed Miliband and the Labour Party really want to trounce David Cameron and Vince Cable, the apparently progressive Liberal Democrat Minister, responsible for this outrage, they should pledge immediately to re-nationalise the Royal Mail. Let’s then see what the city vultures circling over the not so prone corpse of a profitable, publicly owned Royal Mail, do then.
 Flap away, I suspect, and left hungry.
  • David Lindsay

    When, if ever, has a company been floated on the London Stock Exchange while its
    workers were on strike? Would you buy such a company, even in very small part? Well, there you are, then.

    Michael Fallon could not guarantee that the Royal Mail would not fall into foreign hands. Nor could he guarantee the relationship with the Post Office, putting the latter at risk. Even TNT has today described this scheme as “preposterous”, and as bad for business and consumers.

    The Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats have already cut rural incomes and
    services with something resembling derangement or dementia. Most recently, the Agricultural Wages Board has been abolished. The disappearance of everything from libraries to bus services has been, and remains, horrific. And now, the Royal Mail is to be privatised.

    There was no need for a Commons vote on Syria, but when such a division was held, the result was electrifying, with MPs from all 10 of the parties whose MPs take
    their seats, as well as the one Independent, voting decisively against action, led by every Labour MP, themselves led by Ed Miliband. The alliance of Labour and the broader Left with traditional Tories, with rural and Radical Liberals, and with Unionists, is no less obvious and necessary in this case.

    If Ed Miliband were to announce that the next Labour Government would reverse this privatisation, then not only would he sweep the countryside that both Coalition
    parties have abandoned, but he would also stop that privatisation itself, since no potential buyer would take the risk. The priority would then be to ensure the right Labour candidates in rural seats. No section of society is more excluded from the national conversation than the rural working class. Let that wrong begin to be righted.

    Let Labour declare that in the most rural third of constituencies both in the country and in each of the 10 mainland regions outside London, unless one of its own MPs were seeking re-election, the Labour candidate would be drawn from a household in the social groups C2DE within the constituency, and at least preferably within the more rural half of wards. Labour would then undertake to spend to the limit in order to capture every such seat. What are unions for?

    When safe Labour seats first emerged in the 1920s, they were mostly in rural areas. The solid Labour vote here in County Durham, while Tyneside and Teesside were much harder nuts to crack, has always had several parallels around the country. The Conservatives and what are now the Liberal Democrats have never had their imagined ancestral right to represent the countryside in Parliament. But even if they had, then they would now have forfeited any such claim.

  • Quiet_Sceptic

    Personally I thought the Ian Katz incident was a text-book example of how not to do things. We’re trying to pitch ourselves as a credible party, ready and able to run the country and yet we’re coming out blustering, demanding public apologies for a stupid, off the cuff comment by an unknown BBC employee.

    Would a heavy weight politician make such a fuss? We should have just dismissed it as a stupid comment and moved on, I don’t think the faux-outrage is very effective.

  • Monkey_Bach

    Only under David Cameron could a unreconstructed, unalloyed, undiluted, lying bottom feeder like Grant Shapps have become Chairman of the Conservative Party.

    Which says as much about Cameron as it does about Grant Schapps…

    … or is it Michael Green?…

    … or is it Sebastian Fox today?!


  • dave stone

    “pledge immediately to re-nationalise the Royal Mail. ”

    I can’t see that happening. Once it’s gone it’s gone. Preventing privatisation is the only way to save the mail.

    • BillFrancisOConnor

      Agreed Dave – However, if we say we’ll renationalise it the share price will bomb on opening and with the upcoming CWU strike the sell off will be catastrophic and possibly a fiasco (The Tory Party overseeing a fiasco- never!)
      It’s an attritional measure so that their mates in the City don’t make a fortune from Cable’s disgraceful move.
      Given that when we get in we’ll have to reverse all the really unpleasant stuff from the Health and Social Care Act and reverse the Bedroom Tax etc, we could whack the new Royal Mail with a windfall tax and heavily fine them for failing to provide the current universal service which of course will inevitably disappear with privatisation.

  • JoeDM

    Remind me. What was the previous Labour Government policy on Privatisation of the Royal Mail?


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