The SNP is playing cynical politics with the Royal Mail

Alex Salmond and the SNP will say and do anything to get people to put a cross in the ‘Yes’ box next September.

Ian Murray is MP for Edinburgh South and Labour’s shadow postal affairs minister

This week the dreadful privatisation of the Royal Mail was signed, sealed and delivered against a backdrop of widespread opposition from those who fear for the future of our postal service.

And whilst the SNP at their conference in Perth this weekend will be, rightly, quick to defend the Royal Mail and the universal postal service, they have failed to answer critical questions on stamp prices, how the postal network will be maintained, as well as how many staff will be employed and how their pensions will be paid in their desired separate Scotland.

Labour has opposed the sell-off outright and campaigned side-by-side with staff to try to stop it. From our vigorous opposition during the passage of the Postal Services Bill in 2011 which enabled privatisation I, along with Labour colleagues, have collected signatures for petitions, asked questions in Parliament, and have used every opportunity to highlight why this ideologically driven fire-sale should not have gone ahead.

Meanwhile, the first minister and his colleagues stayed silent. That was until last month when he called for a ‘moratorium’ on the privatisation, until after the referendum. Why did the first minister not oppose the sell-off outright? Why wait until the referendum? Why must he insist on playing politics with one of Scotland’s most important services? Why must it always be about putting Scotland on pause?

A few days later he moved from calling for a moratorium opposing the privatisation to saying the SNP would renationalise the service if people voted yes. This was an ill-thought through off-the -cuff statement that actually made the privatisation more attractive. Investors would see a possible yes vote as an opportunity not only to sell the most expensive part of the Universal Service Obligation (USO), but getting a ransom payment for the Scottish parts of the Royal Mail.

Alex Salmond’s promise of renationalisation at his weekly question time came just sixteen hours after his finance secretary said he could not commit to such a policy as he would not know the shape or format of the Royal Mail post-privatisation and how much it would cost.

And now the share price of the company has rocketed, increasing the value of Royal Mail by over 40 per cent, further pressure has been heaped on the SNP’s promise. You would have thought that they may have even contacted the Royal Mail or the Business Department to seek information? Well, no. Their officials do not even know how much it will cost.

Let me help them out. It is estimated it will cost Scottish tax payers in excess of £1.25bn. This is not including the significant subsidy or considerable price rises to deal with maintaining the six day a week, one price goes anywhere service within Scotland’s rural geography.

So, exactly how would they fund the purchase? How will they deal with the billions of historic and current pension fund deficits? Yet again, the SNP has cynically used an important issue to make their false case for separation, their argument that the grass is always greener on the other side.

Ultimately, the people of Scotland have the right to know what sort of postal service they will have should they chose to separate from the rest of the UK. From the small businessman in Inverness who posts his products across the UK, to the pensioner in Stirling who’s reliant on a timely service for her hospital appointment letters – they need certainty.

It is clear that Alex Salmond and the SNP will say and do anything to get people to put a cross in the ‘Yes’ box next September, even when they know in private that what the promise on Royal Mail renationalisation is neither true or workable.

The UK postal service is the epitome of how the UK is stronger together as it does not matter if you live in Shetland or Southampton, Edinburgh or Eastbourne, you get the same service at the same price.

16 Responses to “The SNP is playing cynical politics with the Royal Mail”

  1. Garve Scott-Lodge

    The point of this article seems to be to blame the SNP for making political capital out of the privatisation of Royal Mail.

    Sadly, Ian Murray’s entire purpose in writing this article is to make political capital out of the privatisation of the Royal Mail himself. It’s a bit hypocritical to criticise the SNP for something he’s happy to do.

    His arguments over the SNP’s plans don’t stand up either. He uses the classic Project Fear tactic, saying they have “failed to answer critical questions on stamp prices”.

    Independence (should the result of the referendum be Yes) is likely to take place in 2016. If Ian Murray believes that the SNP must tell us what the price of a stamp will be in three years time then, if he is to avoid further charges of hypocrisy, he must tell us what the price of a stamp will be in the UK (after a No vote) under a Labour government in 2016.

    Can you do that Ian?

  2. ForfarFeederClub

    what a sham of a belief you have…or what a strength of denial Labour has. I dont doubt you believe this, but Labour focusing on the SNP when the Tories have shown their lack of vision to clear up Labour debt mountains is paramount to stupidity

  3. Jake Church

    If i read anymore garbage like this jibing at the SNP from this site who have made Scotland a far better and fairer society with labour, i mean tories in disguise out to take away all the benefits ie, council tax freeze, free tuition, no prescription charges, free bus passes etc etc I will get rid of this site from my facebook page. Waken up, the SNP have stated they will do this and they will unlike the pseudo tories running about in the disguise of the tories up here

  4. Trilby

    Whilst Labour should commit to re-nationalise, Ian Murray is correct to point out practical issues with Salmond’s and the SNP pledge.
    Scotland’s geography means that maintaining the universal service in an independent Scotland would mean prices going up, or a significant subsidy – this is simply a fact of geography and population distribution, there aren’t enough urban centres in Scotland to maintain the status quo post-independence. Most urban centres in the UK are in England – that’s just the way it is -so he is right to say that the privatised Royal Mail will be quite content to lose the most expensive parts of its network.

    This, of course, doesn’t make it impossible by any means, but people do need to be up front when such pledges are made.

  5. Alex Wright

    I’m afraid you’ve lost me there Ian. I agree with your assessment that the sale was “an ideologically driven fire sale,” however, the rest of your article gives no indication of how you and the Labour Party would rectify this disgraceful theft.
    From what I can decipher, renationilisation which was passed at your conference, before being chucked ( in a wonderful display of party unity) by the leadership, is a bad thing. However, had the leadership agreed with the conference vote it would have been a good thing.
    What I can’t unravel is what your stance on the situation is. Are you for bringing the Post Office back into public ownership or not ?
    As regards the price of a stamp in the future, this is another Project Fear question. How much will a pint of milk be in two months time, how much will a half loaf be in six months time, how much will your expenses be in a years time ?
    People are beginning to see through the Mystic Meg shite Ian, you’ve been rumbled.
    Your incoherent rambling is just another display of stupefied hatred of Alex Salmond and the SNP.

  6. uglyfatbloke

    It’s all very well saying Labour has posed the sell-off, but just saying it’s a bad idea is not enough. The public are n’t generally al that keen on nationalisation, but if Ed had promised form day 1 that the postal service would be re-nationalised with no compensation to the people that bought shares, the whole project would have been abandoned because nobody would have wanted to buy, the public would have loved it and Cameron would have been badly wounded. It was a superb opportunity and it was missed.

  7. Mboyle1888

    Yet more anti-independence drivel from an allegedly left wing website.

    If Labour genuinely cared about the Scottish people they’d be in the Yes camp. However they’ve got to try and keep Scotland in the union by any means possibly, as they rely on us to vote in MPs to London (not out of support for Labour, may I add, but out of fear of the Tories).

    Meanwhile there’s an opportunity for Scotland never to have to be subjected to Tory rule ever again… and the supposed party of the common man, the workers, is against it for their own self interest.

    Disgraceful.

  8. Mboyle1888

    The SNP have been to the left of Labour for some time now. (The hypocritical, Iraq war supporting) Johann Lamont ranting on about how there needs to be an end to the “something for nothing culture”, with the same phrases and scapegoating that wouldn’t look out of place at the Tory party conference- and they wonder why so many have defected to the SNP?

  9. Mboyle1888

    The SNP have been to the left of Labour for some time now. (The hypocritical, Iraq war supporting) Johann Lamont ranting on about how there needs to be an end to the “something for nothing culture”, with the same phrases and scapegoating that wouldn’t look out of place at the Tory party conference- and they wonder why so many have defected to the SNP?

  10. Mboyle1888

    The SNP have been to the left of Labour for some time now. (The hypocritical, Iraq war supporting) Johann Lamont ranting on about how there needs to be an end to the “something for nothing culture”, with the same phrases and scapegoating that wouldn’t look out of place at the Tory party conference- and they wonder why so many have defected to the SNP?

  11. Mboyle1888

    This is the same Labour party who attempted to sell off the post office when they were in government. Don’t be surprised about the posturing and criticism without any policy pledges.

  12. eireanne

    why does Scotland have to re-purchase its part of Royal mail to have a nationalised postal service?
    If Scotland votes YES for independence why can’t they just start their own postal service – Scottish Mail?

  13. Alex Wright

    Purely rhetorical question Ian. Did any of the Union Reps receive any shares?

  14. Derick Tulloch

    Exactly. Not a penny to be paid to the spivs and speculators. Start a Scottish Postal Service, publicly owned, supporting the Post Offices, and undercut the feckers. What is a ‘share’ worth? Only as much as someone is prepared to pay for it. Incidentally, I have lived an breathed Scottish politics for the last 30 years. I have never heard of ‘Ian Murray’. The SLAB at it’s ‘finest’

  15. franwhi

    The pain of the status quo is evident here for all to see. Indeed, as Scotland gets its opportunity to choose a different direction of travel towards a socially just country Labour choose to put up roadblocks. Where is your vision for the Royal Mail – either individually or collectively as a party ?

  16. David D

    Labour MP Ian Murry- ‘Left’ foot forward ? hahahahaha – as they say in Scotland ‘go and boil ur head’ ( stop being silly) Next editon – ‘Is the moon made of cheese ? Was Margaret Thatcher really a socialist?

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