Sunday, March 01, 2009

On part-privatisation of the Royal Mail/Post Office

Not sure why there is such a furore about this. It's exercising certain unionists but I'm detecting indifference from the general public. Most people don't actually get that much mail these days - we are all being incentivised to get our statements by email instead and given discounts off our bills to do so. Nobody sends cheques out any more, it's all done by automated bank transfer. No one sends personal letters anymore, all contact is made by phone, text and email.

The only mail that seems to be delivered is junk mail, and does it matter who delivers that?

And while people feel indifferent to the Royal Mail, they feel outright irritation with Post Offices. I remember having to go to the post office in my lunch hour to get my tax disc renewed. After queueing for ages, you finally got to the counter only to be told by a jobsworth, sorry I can't give you the disc, as your insurance starts tomorrow, you should have brought your old insurance papers with you as well. I'd protest in vain that they knew my old insurance was in place as the system had granted me a tax disc last year. To no avail. So I'd have to come back the next day and repeat the process. What a relief when the DVLA started doing tax disc renewal online!

One of the great achievements of the Labour government these last twelve years has been to automate government services and make them all available online. No need to venture into a hideous post office any more. I'm sure millions feel the same way I do - people have been voting with their feet, and that is why the numbers using post offices has dropped.

As to why the government is pressing ahead with this - to raise money of course. Doh! Because of the recession, tax revenue is down. And it's a bad idea to raise taxes in a downturn. And no self-respecting Labour person will countenance cuts to essential services like the NHS (which is well-loved, unlike the Post Office). So Royal Mail privatisation it is.

I also predict that the government will prefer to get the banks to buyout the government at the earliest opportunity, so the taxpayer gets their money back, rather than keep the bank shares and raise taxes. And I'm pretty sure that Northern Rock will get flogged off at the first opportunity too. If it's a choice between keeping public services and flogging off these albatrosses, the choice is clear.

5 comments:

DevonChap said...

"The only mail that seems to be delivered is junk mail". Your online purchased tax disc came by POST. You are arguing against yourself. Do more online as opposed to face to face (God forbid the high and mighty Snowflake has to mix with the smelly hoi polloi in a Post office) and you have to send more items by post. Frankly if you go to a Post office at lunch time and don’t check your tax disc renewal letter before going you deserve what you get.

Are you really saying that no government other than Labour would have brought in online provision of government services over the last 12 years? This has been pretty consistent across the developed world regardless of the colour of the government.

You are a technically literate person in their 30's. You are relaxed with a move online. Many people only slightly older than you missed the computer revolution when they were young and are not as happy online and like face to face contact or doing things by post. People 40 and over should not be marginalised just because you don't like queuing. There is a residual loyalty to the Royal Mail (remember the fuss when they changed their name to Consignia?). Margaret Thatcher did not privatise the Royal Mail as she knew it had deep support across the whole of the country. 20 years later there is still a deep well of support. If you hadn't noticed people campaign AGAINST Post Office branch closures, not in favour.

I shall wait you answer in a week (Service worse than the post office).

Anonymous said...

If you had ever had to collect a parcel from a TNT depot, you would know why people are horrified.

snowflake5 said...

DevonChap: "Are you really saying that no government other than Labour would have brought in online provision of government services over the last 12 years?"

Yes. Provision of online services required capital investment in IT - which Tories bitterly opposed at every turn.

As for who delivers my tax disc - am happy for Deutche Post or whoever (perhaps the privatised Royal Mail) to deliver it. As long as it gets to me.

As for the whole "Mrs Thatcher didn't privatise the post office" -life was different in the 80's. There was no internet, there was no email, mobile phones were in their infancy. In the 80's the Royal Mail was the only proper communications network. This has utterly changed. Your argument is like clinging onto the Horse and Carriage in an internal combustian age.

As for people campaigning to keep post offices - they don't actually have to campaign, they just have to use them. The fact that they are refusing to do so shows that they don't really value the service. These services can always be sold to English Heritage, and let them bear the cost of maintaining useless and defunct bits of history.

"I shall wait you answer in a week (Service worse than the post office)."

Hey, I'm providing a FREE service on this blog. As an aside I had noticed that Tories had more time to visit my blog than I did! Are you all unemployed? Or retired? Or are you all sat at yoru desks skiving and surfing the net when you should be working? If it's the latter, do take care, won't you. Most employers can and do monitor internet usage, and if they conclude you spend most of your time not working, they will make you redundant on the grounds that they don't really wish to pay people a full salary just to visit Snowflake's blog!

DevonChap said...

I think you shall find in 15 months it will be smug Labour supporters who are out of their jobs. (btw there are things called lunch-hours and evenings in which to surf the web and rebut your oh so rosie view of the world (which I also expect will suddenly becoem alot bleaker in after june 2010.)

Anonymous said...

"One of the great achievements of the Labour government these last twelve years has been to automate government services and make them all available online"

And all your confidential information has been made available to private business, corporations.

As for your jobsworth, insurance is insurance, there is no way your vehicle will be taxed if you do not have the correct dates on your documents. It's illegal! So you are not happy with a member of the counter staff doing something criminal because of something for you bear responsibility, ie checking your documents before you venture out to the post office.

If you do it online or through the post, you will have the documents returned anyway; what are you going to do then, stuff your car under the stairs?