In defence of decent public services... for the public

25 March 2008

By an ironical twist, due to Brown's policy of closing down 2,500 post offices, the Tories can pose as champions of public services! Last Thursday, they put a Commons' motion opposing this policy. Coming from a party which was bent on privatising everything but the kitchen sink when it was in office, this is pretty empty posturing!

The Tory motion was defeated, but only by 268 votes to 288. The Tories' real policy, presented as a fallback, was, in fact, a form of privatisation. This was promoted by Tory-led Essex county council, which proposed to take over some of the post offices earmarked for closure through which it would deliver both postal and local services.

The benefits are obvious for all cost-cutters. They may try to save on staff, with counter workers doing more tasks, or on buildings, since post offices could replace council offices located in expensive areas. They may hope to save on wages, by resorting to casuals like Royal Mail.

Of course, this will not guarantee decent local or postal services, since it will mean fewer people for the same tasks. But that is of no concern to the cost-cutters. Predictably, the government called on other councils to make similar offers. No doubt, there will be no shortage of Labour councils willing to line up behind Brown's Tory allies.

The government claims that the post office network is "losing £500,000 a day", which is not even true, since RM itself says this figure was under £300,000 last year. But what Brown fails to say is that RM made over £150m profit anyway! What is wrong with this profit paying for a decent postal network?

There would be nothing wrong in this, of course, or even in subsidising post offices from public funds, if Royal Mail was still what it was created to be - a public service, i.e. an organisation designed to serve the public. Even 19th century Victorian Britain considered this as a given. But in Brown's increasingly backward Britain, "public service" has become a swear word.

This is how capitalism drives society backwards, and this is why it must be overthrown!