18th November 2018
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Politicians oppose plans to sell final Royal Mail share

15 comments, , by , in Headlines, News

Politicians from various parties have condemned news the government plans to sell off its last remaining slice of Royal Mail, announced this week by Chancellor George Osborne as part of a package of austerity measures.

The Tories have said they want to privatise the 30 per cent stake it still has in Royal Mail prompting widespread concerns the universal service obligation – which protects postal services to rural places such as the isles – could be at risk.

First to criticise was isles MP Alistair Carmichael. He said he would “urge” ministers to ensure a review of the powers of the regulator is carried out in order to save the universal service.

“The government owning 30 per cent of Royal Mail was an important part of the package put in place by the coalition government to protect the universal service obligation. If that element is to be removed then the whole package will require to be looked at again.

“It remains the case that the most important protection for the universal service is the power of the regulator OFCOM to charge a levy on private operators who do not deliver to every door in the country as Royal Mail does.

“Given the concerns that were expressed by the Royal Mail chief executive last year I shall be urging ministers to ensure that, before the sale goes ahead, there is a comprehensive review of the powers of the regulator to protect the universal service.”

During the previous government Mr Carmichael voiced support for the partial sell-off of Royal Mail, arguing that as a wholly publicly-owned business it was denied the investment it needed to compete in the postal market.

Independence supporter, Highlands and Islands MSP Jean Urquhart, said rural parts would be badly hit by a full sell off.

“The majority of my constituents live in rural areas and rely on the one-price-goes-anywhere, six day a week service provided by Royal Mail.

“The privatisation that has already taken place has led to substantial price increases across the board and I am very concerned about the impact this will have, especially on my constituents in the Western and Northern Isles, who are already charged astronomical prices by private companies who deliver to these areas.

“Our public services should be just that, and it is wrong that the government is delivering them into private hands.”

She criticised the Tory government for introducing the move, insisting it was being introduced as part of “an out of control slash, burn and privatise” Westminster government.

“I am appalled, but given the nature of this Tory government not surprised, that the Royal Mail which has served us through the years so well, is to be fully privatised. The sell off will benefit a tiny number of people who will grow rich as a result. All of our public services are under attack. This is an extremely serious situation, caused by an out of control slash, burn and privatise Westminster government. This will threaten the service that so many rely on. Of course I am concerned about residents in my own constituency. But this is going to affect every one of the 29 million households who use the service.”

The Communication Workers Union who represent Royal Mail Workers have vowed to oppose this final part of the sell off. Ms Urquhart offered her support.

“We know that privatisation leads to poorer conditions for staff,” she said.

“This has been shown time and again, and I stand with the CWU in their campaign to protect the Royal Mail as a public service by opposing the selling of the last government shares in Royal Mail.”

She added: “There is no appetite for Tory economic policy in Scotland. It is also worth remembering that the Scottish governments White Paper on independence contained a plan to re-nationalise Royal Mail, and to make sure that both staff and service users received the best possible conditions, service and value for money.

“Scotland should lead the way in opposing this agenda. We simply must public service for the many, rather than private profit for a tiny minority.”

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant argued against privatisation in 2013 when plans were first put forward by the coalition government.

“It was clear when I first campaigned against privatisation in 2013 that the public were against the sale and particularly people living and doing business in the Highlands and Islands where privatisation puts the our mail service at most risk.

“The government were guilty of ripping off the tax payer in 2013 by grossly undervaluing the worth of this historic institution, part of the fabric of our nation; shares sold for £1.7bn at privatisation and are now worth £2.7bn.

“The Highlands and Islands are particularly vulnerable to the knock on effects of privatisation. I will fight tooth and nail to oppose the sale of the remaining 30 per cent of the Royal Mail that is in public hands to help protect and secure deliveries to rural areas, preserve the six days a week universal service and ensure the Post Office network remains viable.”

About Ryan Taylor

Ryan Taylor has worked as a reporter since 1995, and has been at The Shetland Times since 2007, covering a wide variety of news topics. Before then he reported for other newspapers in the Highlands, where he was raised, and in Fife, where he began his career with DC Thomson. He also has experience in broadcast journalism with Grampian Television. He has lived in Shetland since 2002, where he harbours an unhealthy interest in old cars and motorbikes.

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15 comments

  1. David Howell

    “…First to criticise was isles MP Alistair Carmichael. He said he would “urge” ministers to ensure a review of the powers of the regulator is carried out in order to save the universal service….”

    Well; isn’t that rich, coming from a man who . . . “During the previous government Mr Carmichael voiced support for the partial sell-off of Royal Mail” . . . when he was working WITH THE TORIES!

    This man has no honour and should RESIGN . . . NOW!

    Reply
  2. Charlie Gallagher

    Déjà vu!!!

    Ever get the feeling that we have been here before and that Alistair was warned that he could never trust the Tories. You will also recall that before the Referendum we promised that Postal Services would be brought back into public ownership; well I guess that you can say bye-bye to that now, you had your chance.

    Just watch your postal charges rocketing and some services vanishing under the excuse that they don’t deliver to the Highlands and Islands. I bet you Roland Hill is not just turning in his grave but veritably writhing. A service that was once the envy of the world will no doubt descend to the abysmal level of pathetic customer service like that provided at an exorbitant price by UPS and its like.

    Reply
    • John Tulloch

      Charlie, Isn’t this type of thing the reason the SNP wanted a Tory government at Westminster?

      Are you sure “the memo” wasn’t more “accurate” than you’re letting on?

      By the way, Nicola’s changed her description of it. It’s no longer “categorically 100 percent untrue”, it’s “inaccurate”. That could mean anything up to “almost categorically 100 percent true”, could it not?

      You now have two official investigations in progress so pray enlighten us, why is the SNP still calling for Mr Carmichael to resign?

      Reply
      • Charlie Gallagher

        John,

        I know that in Arrochar you live in the shadow of Beinn Artair and it seems to have affected your brain, for once again you are writing a load of ‘Cobblers’. Grow-up and present a decent properly researched honest arguments and not your usual diatribe of unionist lies.

        Out of courtesy please note that this conversation ends here.

      • Gordon Harmer

        Oops, Charlie has lost the argument and resorted to cyber nat tactics, name calling and insults. I really thought better of you Charlie; could you have a word with your SNP convener and ask him if he could answer a few questions put to him a week ago in reply to his letter. Ask him to present a decent properly researched honest answer and not the usual diatribe of nationalist lies. Thanks in anticipation Charlie.

      • John Tulloch

        Charlie!

        I do believe your veil just slipped! 🙂

        You may think you can accuse me of telling “unionist lies” and say “the conversation ends” there, however, I’ll have my turn if you don’t mind.

        I ask you to, either, inform readers which of my statements to you, if any, were “unionist lies” or withdraw your blustering allegation and apologise for the “vitriolic abuse” of me in your comment.

  3. Charles McQueen

    Finally someone on Shetland Times has mentioned VE. I would have thought the recent changes proposed to the Renewable credits would have caused much more of a reaction as it appears that VE is dead in the water. Anyone from the SCT going to pass comment?

    Reply
  4. David Spence

    The vile Tories are proving once again that they do not represent the people of this country. Time and time again, this vile political party is putting its own agenda, greed and opportunism ahead of anything else.

    Shetland has the high postal charges than anywhere else in the UK. These charges will go up considerably as a consequence of the greed (trait of capitalism) private couriers taking advantage of our location and distance from mainland Scotland/UK.

    The private postal sector, private couriers and alike, will be allowed to charge anything they want since there is no comparison now.

    Example. I was going to order some computer software (valued at £14.99) but decided not to due to the fact the private courier they used was going to charge £35.99 to post it to Shetland. The same item, in terms of weight, the Post Office would have charge £2.37.

    This is the kind of ripping off, conning, call it what you want, this vile, despicable political party condones, supports, encourages and endorses for more and more companies to charge extortionate fee’s for, in many cases, a much worse service than what the Post Office provided.

    What else would you expect from the vile Tories?

    Reply
  5. David Spence

    ‘ During the previous government Mr Carmichael voiced support for the partial sell-off of Royal Mail, arguing that as a wholly publicly-owned business it was denied the investment it needed to compete in the postal market. ‘

    What utter rubbish………practically in every survey carried out, the Post Office was very much cheaper, more efficient and more effective than over 70% of the private courier services.

    The Post Office was also making a profit as well.

    It is yet again more rubbish and lies by this vile Tory Government to discredit state run services to justify the privatization of such services.

    Why oh why oh why are people so stupid to let these b******* back in power?

    Reply
    • Steven Jarmson

      As a non-Tory, I think people elected them this time as the alternatives were probably worse than the Tories.
      A weak Labour leading either a fragmented coalition or a weak minority government was the alternative.
      Whilst I don’t like the Tories, I can, unfortunately see why people elected them.
      But don’t worry, with the Tories being elected this offers many opportunities for the SNP under their very own vile leader to exploit the Scottish-English divide for their own vile ends.

      Reply
  6. iantinkler

    Why oh why oh why are people so stupid to let these b******* back in power? To answer that David is simple. Look at the alternatives, SNP, Labour! I for one would rather castrate myself with a rusty tin can than see that combination in government t, so clearly would the majority of the UK. Perhaps if Salmond had not been quite so divisive and snide the story would be different. Nicola is a vast improvement but she has tied herself tightly to wee Alex. How long before her bubble bursts, the vindictive “get Carmichael campaign” will have damaged her immensely, sad she does not condemn the foul vindictive tactics of some, my-be her true colors are beginning to show.

    Reply
    • DavidHowwll

      Why don’t you have the courage to come out and say that you personally voted for the Tories?

      Are you one of those “shy Tories” who pretend that they don’t vote for the party of the rich, but secretly hope they do take power, in the forlorn hope that some crumbs will fall to them from the banqueting table of the 1%?

      “…I for one would rather castrate myself with a rusty tin can than see that combination in government t, so clearly would the majority of the UK…”

      Aside from the fact that “the majority” did NOT vote Tory; I think those of us who care about our fellow citizens, many of whom are worse off than us, would rather hope that you took your own advice.

      Reply
    • Steven Jarmson

      Sorry to disagree Ian. Sturgeon is worse than 2 wage Salmond.
      She’s the one that started this whole campaign with her comments in the interview just after Carmichael apologised, I think she thought she was being clever, the consequences of her statement were quite obvious with the under tones being to encourage the moaners.

      Reply
  7. iantinkler

    DavidHowwll, for what it is worth, as I previous publicly stated I vote liberal. a simple tactical vote to keep out the SNP. I would vote the same way again. My priority is simple, confound a divisive and unpleasant party whose sole aim is division at any cost.

    Reply
  8. iantinkler

    DavidHowwll, If the SNP cared one jot about Torie benefit cuts, Why does Sturgeon not go for full fiscal autonomy. She could then reverse those cuts and if she so wished increase benefits. O dear, then Scotland would have to find the funds out of increased taxes raised in Scotland. The Scottish population would love her for that, actually having to pay for SNP bribes themselves. No longer able to blame Westminster and taxes going through the roof. I wonder how long SNP popularity would last, never mind, until Scotland followed Greece into bankruptcy, there would be benefits and jam for everyone.
    .

    Reply

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