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Lord Mandelson interview

Nick Robinson | 20:28 UK time, Tuesday, 16 December 2008

I've just interviewed Lord Mandelson and reminded him of his previous words on privatising Royal Mail.

His answer should still the doubts of those who fear that part-privatisation is merely a first step to fully privatising it.

He told me: "We have no desire to privatise, no intention to privatise it and no plan to change our intention either."

So, he's saying yes to part-privatisation but no to full privatisation.

He suggests that if Royal Mail were a private company it would not deliver a universal, single price, six-day-a-week service throughout the UK.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Nick, you say "His answer should still the doubts"..

    You've got to be joking!!!!

  • Comment number 2.

    Mandelson is talking rubbish, the obvious intention for many years now, has been to privatise the Royal Mail.

    Why else have they decimated the services that post offices used to offer?

    This is NOT the beginning of privatisation, it is almost the final step.

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 4.


    Did you ask him which part he intends to privatise - or is that information being hidden in the same place as that about Lord Mandleson and Mr Deripaska's yacht?

  • Comment number 5.


    no we will not fully privatise Royal Mail, we shall just destroy it. In the meantime watch what they propose to do with the Pension Fund.

    This must be resisted at all costs. The taxpayer will end-up with a huge future liability, but the government will have all the pension fund assets. This is going to be larceny on a grand scale.

  • Comment number 6.

    Wow is this really Nick Robinson ALMOST attacking a Labour Minister for spin. Nick Madelson is in the Labour party not the Tories

  • Comment number 7.


    also with control of the Pension Fund assets it will give the government huge power when voting on shareholders dividends and remuneration of directors.

    Interesting that we should also have to 'Post Comments', like we post it via Royal Mail!

  • Comment number 8.

    I heard the speech by Lord M to The House of Lords on 5 live, and I must say it made sense. Not too much tinkering, just enough to get the reform of The Royal Mail under way. I hope the union will support this effort. Not to do so will/could result in the loss of many jobs. The support for the universal delivery is commendable, and so is the support for the local post offices. This makes me glad that the dark knight is back. I wonder what the ?? who ever party will make of this. I am sure Dave will have a contrary opinion - he always does.

  • Comment number 9.

    oh, that's all right then...phew.

    p.S. can you imagine the UPROAR if a Conservative MP had even suggested this let alone a Tory government actually do it? Hypocritical (add your own expletives)


  • Comment number 10.

    Its not part privatisation its a partnership, well it was when I listened to his wise words earlier today.
    Wonder where Crozier will end up, maybe dusting Mandelson's parlour at 4mph.
    Also wonder if Brown has got used to playing second fiddle to Mandelson yet.

  • Comment number 11.

    For heavens sake, people in rural areas and less wealthy inner cities are screaming out for a full range of banking services along with reliable postal services. Why not simply throw Bradford and Bingley and Northern Rock into the mix then privatise. A good worth while and credible business and an excellent carrot for ordinary users to buy shares and make sure their services are secure.

  • Comment number 12.

    Another Party Political on behalf of Nuliebour, Nick? Get a grip.

  • Comment number 13.

    Re:11 above . . .

    Sorry - I forgot about Santander having acquired Band B.

  • Comment number 14.

    Lord Bloody Muck always takes the credit for no action

  • Comment number 15.

    Good that you got to interview him -- what did he say about himself/oleg and eu tarriffs?

    Comments to your last blog entry seemed to suggest that you have many readers waiting for those answers...

    Now at last we have them !! (dont we Nick?)

  • Comment number 16.

    On what basis would anyone sane ever believe anything said by Peter Mandelson?

  • Comment number 17.

    Nick, why didn't you seize this golden opportunity to ask Mandelson about whether he ever at any point discussed the EU tariffs with the tycoon whose hospitality he enjoyed?

    If you couldn't think of any good questions to ask Mandelson during your audience, here are a few suggestions from The Guardian!

  • Comment number 18.

    Many Eurorealists have been warning that the Royal Mail we be handed over the control of EU based companies for a long time, in order to create an EU wide postal service - as the lisbon treaty/constitution stipulates.

    This is not privatisation - this is treason.

  • Comment number 19.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 20.

    There is only one reason an investor would buy a minority share of an ailing business - cut services, cut staff, spin-off the bit that is profitable and leave the social service element and pension liability husk in the public ownership. Services can only decline. The public as usual will have no say. The latest farcial claim from the Post Office is high compliance with delivery, its easy - just degrade the delivery time until you get compliance.

  • Comment number 21.

    There is a glaring inconsistency in what Lord Mandelson has told us. He says that the Royal Mail will collapse if a private company is not allowed to take a stake and help it improve its methods, and that a private company is prepared to perform this great public service.

    But why, if what Mandy says is true, does the private company not just stand back and pick up Royal Mail's customers as it collapses. What is in it for the private company?

    Surely the answer is that it will no longer have to compete with the Royal Mail.

    The removal of competition in this way will certainly mean increased charges and probably no improvement in service.

    I wonder what is in this for Lord Mandelson and the government.

  • Comment number 22.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 23.

    There will be jobs lost through this action?

    How can people defend the stimulus plan, which was supposedly about helping people
    to keep their homes and their jobs.

    Another spectacular O.G. from labour.

    Let see what the polls say next week

    15% lead anyone?

  • Comment number 24.

    When will the BBC tell the whole story.
    The UK is the only European country to open up their postal service to other European Countries and then the Goverment tie their hands behind their backs by not allowing them to reduce prices or charge the other companies a realistic rate for delivering the post that they have taken off Royal Mail.

    The German Goverment has raised the average pay of the German Postal Worker to a level where it is prohibitive for any other mail group to enter the German Market

  • Comment number 25.

    Many labour MP's have lost their bottle to
    have a real go at the government.

    I hope that J. McDonald will restore some pride in the labour movement and attack Mandelson and this out-rageous move to privatise the PO.

    Look guys times running short, sound off like you've got a pair!

  • Comment number 26.

    I have to agreed with (Lord) Peter Mandelson remarks about being the Royal Mail...into private hands and getting it out of the government hands!

  • Comment number 27.


    His answer should still the doubts - -

    Of Lord Mandelson about anything !! Beyond satire. Unless it IS satire Nick Robinson style ?

    Haven't seen or heard your interview. Did you ask him about the pension issue - current fund and future liabilities ?

    Possible appropriation by the government of the 22 billion pound fund to reduce their visible borrowing whilst adding that plus the shortfall - expected to by circa 7 billion by 2009 - to the already huge unfunded public sector pension shortfall ?

    With current concerns and debate around levels of borrowing and future debt levels, surely this is an important and potentially contentious element worthy of cover in your Newslog ??

  • Comment number 28.

    I've previously worked in the old USSR, then the Russian Republic. I said to senior people there that, whatever the ownership of an organisation, if you stuff up your own people you can't run a decent business.

    Far as I can see, this Administration has "privatised" the management of the PO, but not really tackled the way it works.

    So we've got people paid millions (who don't belong to the general PO pension scheme), with very little - or no - expertise in postal or logistics services, running down a business for a decade.

    Great move.

    Mandelson says he/they "have no plan" to fully privatise the PO.

    So, the EU "had no plan" to wipe out the UK opt out from the working hours limits?

    And the Eu will offer the Irish voters a "legally binding" set of concessions to encourage a "Yes" vote?

    Legally binding only applies until the law is changed...

    The PO could have been a cost-efficient and profitable component of the UK infrastructure. I believe it still should be.

    Just who set the conditions under which competition could enter the UK market? Blair and Brown.

    Didn't they do well?

    It still galls me when I hear Patronising Hewitt pop up on the radio to talk about the benefits of a NuLab project.

    The very gal who IMPOSED a pay rise on GPs and Consultants. Great negotiator. Wish she'd been across the table during some of my sessions...

  • Comment number 29.

    Breaking News, Damien Green investigation by the Met due to be quashed in the coming days after a report commissioned by Sir Paul Stephenson returned heavy criticism on the Met's actions.

    Expect tomorrows PMQ's to have at least a couple of questions from DC about this news.

    Mr Quick, the bobby who sanctioned the arrests has been cut from the shortlist for Commissioner, its now down to 4.

    Sir Paul is also no longer the bookies favourite, Northern Island top bob has taken over.

  • Comment number 30.

    Lord mandlesons no" plan to change our intention" to privatise the royal mail doesn`t mean they won`t,they have been selling englands utilities to foreign owners since taking power.

  • Comment number 31.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 32.

    I dont believe there is manner of trotskyism involved in our public services

    Political views after often, or more thanless personal.

    I dont think the USSR gave its people that choice?

    Fragmenting the services, doesn't mean automatic success? christ! over 40% of Britains railway systems are still inactive.

    Giving the boss a bigger stick, is no solution to better employment practices?

    I hope the people take to the streets on this issue, sometimes you have got to fight for the right!

  • Comment number 33.


    I still claim a fairly open mind.

    Still find it hard to imagine why my 94 year old Mum was hit with a GBP6,000 tax claw-back, because they hadn't taken action to reflect the fact that my old man died a few years ago. (Even though all disclosures had been made.)

    Incompetence is a shared value between government/public sector and private sectors.

    But, we have a choice what and when we spend on "private company" products or services - but no choice over whether we pay taxes.

    (OK, that's not really true. We can't really choose whether to have electricity/gas or not. But some OFGEN or other service supposedly "regulates". Just who "regulates" the waste in government departments? Or in local council spend? I suppose we - the people - have a chance every 5 years to get rid of incompetents. But that doesn't solve the problem.)

    It's a bit hard to realise that the hard-nosed practicalities become so important as you get older. I'd happily sacrifice quite a lot if it resulted in a better outcome for someone with real problems.

    What we get is more "special advisors", more highly paid folk in jobs that good retired executives would probably do for half the price, just for the sake of "giving something back".

    The Baby P case has been a classic (sad) example. Dozens of head teachers spoke up for a council director on about GBP100,000. (That's quite a lot by most people's standards.) She was fired. Her replacement will be on GBP 200,000. Why? It's the same job. How the heck can the salary have doubled?

    Who's to pay for it? Yep. The poor long-suffering council tax payers.

    Don't you sometimes want to curl up in despair?

    The PO could have been a success. Don't forget that, soon after Blair came to power he cancelled a significant contract. And dumped all the costs on the PO. Because he wanted to "modernise".

    So he (no doubt supported by Brown) modernised from two daily deliveries to a single daily service. Big deal.

    50% reduction in service. Modern....

    From what I have read, Blair found it hard to use e-mail. I guess it was all done by intuition.

    Bunch of commercial illiterates.

  • Comment number 34.

    Negotiating with narrow minded people is difficult indeed!

    Blinkerd to the point of blindness.

    Standards, customary practices and the shared value of being part of an organisation that delivers to every part of Britain six days a week.
    Is just to end like a flick of a switch?

    Middle and senior managment are often found wanting, trimming waste-age is easy!
    a not for profit organisation should be a dream to manage?

    Christ! fairlyopenmind could trim 3% and probably more off royal mails over-heads without a single job-loss>

  • Comment number 35.

    They have been tying the Mails hands for years to do this.

    It will result in poorer service for the customers
    as have all the other changes over the last 10 years.All they want is to remove workers rights,and put more people on the minimum wage losing data left right and centre.
    Not quite what one would expect of labour government but par for the course for this shower.

    And anyone who believes one word that comes out of Lord Peter Mandelsons mouth is an idiot.

    He is a proven peddlar of un truths .

  • Comment number 36.

    "His answer should still the doubts of those who fear that part privatisation is merely a first step to fully privatising it.

    He told me: "We have no desire to privatise, no intention to privatise it and no plan to change our intention either.""

    So just when did Mandelson become PM?

    And just when did "no intention to" or "no plan to" actually guarantee, in any reasonable, practical sense that, at some point - between now and Friday - that a change of heart couldn't happen?

    For goodness sake, Nick.

    I'm sure you try to offer insight.

    But what you deliver is assurances or platitudes ("still the doubts").

    I don't believe anything a politician says, from left, right or centre, until something actually happens.

    I'm still waiting for the delivery on "Education, Education, Education".

    Take a random sample of 20 kids and ask them to tell something they know about the Andes, the US Bill of Rights or the English Civil War. I'd guess that you'd only need one side of an A4 page to record the answer.

    Believe an assurance from Mandelson?

    Still the doubts?

    Come one...

  • Comment number 37.

    Well, thats all right then. Mandelson says it will be fine. You can bet that the best bits will be sold off and we will left with trying to prop the expensive rural service that will eventually deteriorate and be deemed unprofitable and undoable. This is an urban government that is dreadfully short of money and selling off the Royal Mail is just another piece of family silver.

  • Comment number 38.


    I'm not sure where you're coming from.

    Costs are always a problem in business.

    I hoped I made clear that I was all in favour of EXPANDING the options that should have been encouraged by Royal Mail/PO to get the post offices into a more commercial role.

    Expanded business options - if sensibly managed - allow for growth. That adds revenue.

    Cost management should always be a part of any organisation. That doesn't mean walking around with an axe and chopping staff for the fun of it. It can mean getting better organised, so that individuals can actually deliver more.

    All the garbage about postpersons having to walk at 4 mph is rediculous.

    4 mph is actually quite quick. If you're carrying a load up and down stairs, I'd bet Seb Coe couldn't have done it...

    I'm not making any attack on the personnel. But I do believe there have been some far too defensive reactions from Unions. (Which that saw the end of UK owned car manufacturing years ago...)

    Many, many years ago I suggested that European airlines should develop close ties with local Postal regimes. So that they could deliver door-to-door services and combat folk like Fed-Ex, UPS and TNT.

    There's nothing wrong with well run publicly owned organisations. But Royal Mail/PO is a private company right now. That's been a government choice. It has also been a government choice NOT to invest in the pension fund.

    I'm sure you could trim costs from any organisation. BUT you don't deliver the future by cutting costs from the past.

    You ensure a future by finding, investing in and developing new areas for revenue growth.

    I haven't seen any of that encouraged by this Government.

    That makes me sad. Or pissed off.

    I've some friendly and enthusiastic posties who deliver here. They are not the problem.

    Labour runs the PO. Where is the "commercial get-up-and-go" to help the PO create a better future?

  • Comment number 39.

    Sorry Derek,

    You mentioned a "not for profit" organisation.

    The PO has never been that.

    It has always been an organisation that should make some sort of return.

    Normally the return would be to the tax-payer (you and me), by contributing to central government income and hence reducing direct taxes.

    Recently, it's been obliged to shove GBP700/800MILLION into the pension scheme.

    IF the company's shareholders - New Labour acting as managers by proxy - had taken a little more attention, they would have launched an initiative to help reduce that burden.

    Did they?

    No way... The PO has never been given the directive to be a not-for-profit concern.

    If you don't make a profit, you have nothing to invest in your future. That's bad for everybody.

    Guess that's something else that isn't taught nowadays.

    (By the way, how are the lads?)

  • Comment number 40.


    If you continue in this form fairlyopenmind,
    I certainly would like to hear you voice your concerns at PMQ's or question-time TV!

    Why cant we have people of real value, debating the now and present issues.

    Fairlyopenmind is not tied to any whip or party? come on Nick! set up the debate.

    Give the people who count a real voice!

  • Comment number 41.

    Fairlyopenmind, I take your point on cost
    and standard practices.

    The royal mail remains soley owned by the public, a not for profit organisation.

    I never meet a trade unionist that wanted to talk his way out of a job?

    I have meet several trade unionist that have been very active in their work place by creating a safer enviroment and improving the terms and conditions of employment, that has resulted in a happier enviroment and a more productive work-force.

    The final salary pension scheme was costed.
    employees pay into it, as does the organisation as a whole, whether its the 65 plus scheme or the 1/80 scheme, it is an intergral part of the terms and conditions of employment.

    what we will see is thousands jumping on to the process of mail delivery, a bit like the housing market went, countless people just following the money, deregulation and irresponsible fast cash baggers.

    Which will no doubt end in a once proud active organisation, being stone walled.

  • Comment number 42.

    Being a not for profit organisation does not restrict you from making profit, of course its only right and proper that there is a profit that is distributed back into the company and the wider public.

    I dont think we should encourage any more organisations like the energy companies, that retain their profits and pay large, massive sums to the board of directors and share holders, while charging over rated-rates.

    Kids are great!and getting very excited about christmas, they done a fantastic version of "HIGHLAND CATHEDRAL" with a full string orchestra in a well knowen church
    last week, I really had to hide my pride, well tears.

  • Comment number 43.

    amazing lack of.. well anything from nick robinson yet again!

    when anyone from the opposition benches says anything to anyone, parts appear here in this blog, in sections with a bbc/government slant on what they "really" mean.

    mandleson, despite being caught out many times before, spins another pile of hogwash when questioned directly, and nick robinson tells the world... "it should still the doubts!"

    how far out of touch can you be nick?

    next youll be telling us the government spin "should still the doubts" about privatising railtrack when they brought in network rail? (not my words - the law courts)
    or perhaps the government will "still the doubts" about national assemblies, when they lost a vote for one in the north east, many people know they are breaking up local services to justify having them introduced?

    too many examples to post here, perhaps nick could "still the doubts" many have about his impartiality, by applying his same line of misleading people that whats said by the government, doesnt always reflect in any way, what the government then go and do?

  • Comment number 44.

    Nick, it is not for you to say whether doubts will be "stilled" or not by Mandy's comforting words. The is *his* strategy. Yours is to report what he says, and then to let us draw our own conclusions.

    But bearing in mind that his assurances from the past against part-privatisation have been ditched, what makes you think that his assurances now against full-privatisation will not be ditched in the future?

    Either you are naive, or you think we are.

    See you in the pub.

  • Comment number 45.

    Dear Nick,

    I see this is more good news to keep you away from the real stuff.

    Anyone with a XAFINITY pension should check out their PDF for a 'brief' explanation. Words like SOME MONTHS AGO, 2007 and MINISTERS FEB 2008, just pop out.

  • Comment number 46.

    Dear Nick

    I do NOT believe Madelson at all, in any shape or form.
    He does not get his nick name the Prince of Darkness because he is Just, quite the Opposite, And to be Lord Mandelson, then he definately Knows something on Ministers that they wish to keep quiet.
    Look at the history of the Workers in Britain, there has been a deliberate plot to destroy the Unions over the years,
    Dockers 50s, and 60s.
    Car workers 60s on wards
    Press organisations 60s, through 70s,
    Coal miners 70s through 80s,
    Steel workers 80s to 90s
    Telecommunications 80s to 90s
    Post Office 90s to 21st century,
    GREAT BRITAIN, -1945 TO 2015- The British People Multiculturism, and cheap labour.
    2015 A Full intregrated European Union.
    Job Done, by the Politicians who have over the last 6 decades purposely and deliberately destroyed the British way of Life,
    From 2008, Financial institutions will be hacked because of the ruin they have bought to the worlds economy and Globalisation, --- the pride of Political Endeavour,
    The people are under sustained attack politically as we enter a new Century, where Terrorism is used as a way to Place on the people unpresidented controls as The Politicians fear the Public in a Democracy,
    The Tide is turning and the Establishment is loosing its presence within such societies people want Freedom not control, and
    people like Mandelson are the Ultimate Control Freaks like Gordon Brown

  • Comment number 47.

    This is a done deal, with TNT taking over part of the Post Office. Mandelson never does anything without it already been decided.TNT being the company which loses computer discs in the post remember.

    The Post office has been completely destroyed by its union and this is the result.

    I cannot believe that in an interview with Mandelson this is the only subject you brought up, and secondly you would think we would feel certain that he was telling the truth on any subject.

    Can we have some news on the Damian Green story, although it seems any report you do on the conservatives will be negative.

  • Comment number 48.

    The elephant in the room being the EU deadline - the end of this year? someone check, please - to open up the mail service to competition.

  • Comment number 49.

    The Belgian Post Office has been working towards an open market for some time, but I don't think they're going to make the New Year deadline they've been set.

  • Comment number 50.

    I think I'm beginning to get the hang of this newlabourspeak lark. Peter Mandelson said: '"We have no desire to privatise, no intention to privatise it and no plan to change our intention either."
    What this means is that although they have neither the 'desire' nor the 'intention' to privatise, it will be privatised DESPITE that. And even though there is no plan to 'change' their intention, well guess what, the intention will be changed without a plan!

  • Comment number 51.


    Firstly thanks to all contributors to this blog for continuing to provide me with the best entertainment on the BBC.

    A couple of questions if I may, from one who has an interest in politics but simply doesn't understand the subtleties of it...

    1. Re: the supposed rebellion that this policy will cause in Labour you think that any Lab MP in their right mind is likely to put their head above the parapet on this? Especially if they sit in a marginal and if they did would promptly be deselected by the local politburo on the orders of 10 Kremilin Street. (Unless of course they have already decided to stand down at the next election, in which case they have nothing to lose)

    2. Totally unrelated to the above but out of's pretty obvious who's pulling the strings in the Govt right now, and it ain't Brown. So, is there anything in the constitution that prevents a member of the upper house being Prime Minister, or does that post have to be held by an elected member of the commons? money is on a May election, before the stats on the 3rd quarter of deepening recession come out and Capt Darling can re-spout his rubbish about the economy picking up in the second half of the year.

  • Comment number 52.

    I wouldn't take too much or what Mr. Mandleson says seriously, he has a well proven record of 'not clearly recalling' his previous statements when found to be saying the opposite of his original ideas. It's all politician speak anyway "no intention" when what we all know is silently added (yet ommited from actual speaches) is: "Yet"

    I do believe that the PO would benefit from a part privatisation though. I think the problem here would be that the profitable parts would be snapped up and turned around for a quick dollar (as is the way with capitalists!) and the loss making part of the business would remain in public hands. Private profit: Public Loss (could be the next Labour party slogan :-)

    I think that there is some capital in re-organising the PO and that the business could be made to run properly. The unions will fight tooth and nail against this as it will (unfortunately) lead to job losses. This will most likely need to happen to streamline the business and processes - the question is will the unions/govt. allow this to happen? Or will they be given the mandate: Save money - but preserve jobs. This will undoubtably lead to poorer service for the end customers, but may save jobs/votes

    The POS does not need to be non-profit. There are certain areas of the business which are inherantly loss-making but these could be balanced by the areas that can potentialy make a lot of money; after all FedEx etc do very well as commercial delivery providers - the problem is that our PO is a lot more complicated animal than these business streams, necessitating the need for rural post offices and other loss making arms

    The question is: Will the government keep its promise if allowed to go forward?

    I do not believe so for a second.

  • Comment number 53.


    can you not start a new blog with regard to the final annoucement of our final retreat from Iraq.

    This is a disgrace that Gordon Brown is making an anoouncement in Baghdad rather than to the British parliament.

    I am already wondering if he will make it back to London in time for PMQs. This is a disgarce.

    In the meantime your Mandelson interview will be consigned to the history bin by the news from Iraq. Discussion on the subject will cease and the government will say what is your problem. We, Mandelson, told you but things move on. Parliament closes for its long winter break. So no parliamentary discussion, this is shameful.

    There will be a spring election. This parliament is a disaster for representative democracy. Who can I vote for. The theft of the Royal Mail Pension Fund is Maxwellian.

  • Comment number 54.


    is the BBC having fun with us. When I come to your blog in the header it says BBC NEWS | Nick Robinson's Newslog but what I find interesting is the shield in front of it. What are you trying to tell me, that I am right to request an English Parliament.

  • Comment number 55.

    Two points: 1) if Mandelson and the rest of the government haven't now learned the lesson that unbridled capitalism and Friedman-style free markets are highly dodgy, then there's no hope for us. Here we are, still talking about nationalising the banks etc., while wanting to part-privatise a national service.

    2) When they speak of Royal Mail being (businesswise) a disaster and want to make it "efficient", what they're really saying is "WE WANT TO SACRIFICE CUSTOMER SERVICE IN FAVOUR OF PROFIT". They've obviously got to worry about the pension deficit but efficiency can be improved perfectly well without privatisation.

    Where things have gone wrong is that the government with its usual non-wisdom allowed businesses to take over the most lucrative parts of the mail service while still relying on Royal Mail postmen to deliver. Utterly daft. Such action is bound to show the post office in a bad financial light. Claw back that part of the business and you'll find the post office's finances improving very quickly.

    I wouldn't personally touch any of Mandelson's proposals with a bargepole and it sickens me having to watch him and his ridiculously misplaced pronouncements affecting us all.

  • Comment number 56.

    A Bank loses money - nationalise it.

    Royal Mail loses money - privatise it.


    Cold calculating Thatcher-style sell-off to raise money for the Treasury. That must be like moeny falling out of the sky. Ordinarily when a business is in trouble it calls management meetings and restructures to get into profit. Too much trouble to do that, easier to flog it off, never mind that it is the ROYAL Mail.

    Private buyers of Royal Mail will shed labour, downsize, raise prices. They always do.

    Nuts to Mandelson and Brown and the whole rotten lot. Completely unimaginative. All they know is spend, spend. None of them have the vaguest idea how to make money.


  • Comment number 57.

    Understanding Mandelese

    > We have no intention to privatize the PO and no plan to change our intention.

    The first part might suggest that the intention is to keep all of the PO in public ownership. However, it could also mean "We intend to privatize up to 49% of the PO".

    The second part is even less clear. There is an intention to do some action A, and there is no plan to change the intention to do A. But it is unclear what it would mean to plan to change an intention. On one interpretation, if you plan to change your intention to do A, then you plan not to do A; that is, you intend not to do A. But you can't intend (plan) to do A and intend (plan) not to do A.

  • Comment number 58.

    And from Nick's next blog:

    I've just interviewed Gordon Brown and asked him about the economy.

    His answer should still the doubts of those who fear that we are in a prolonged recession.

    He told me: "If it wasn’t for America we would be living in a golden age. But don’t worry, I am saving the world and this time next year we’ll all be millionaires."

  • Comment number 59.

    Whether it's privatisation or some other New Labour/Mandelson con, will make no difference, it will be done as incompetently as everything else this government does and the taxpayer will foot the bill.(if there are any taxpayers left) It would be better just to remove the present management en-masse and put someone in charge who knows what they are doing. At the same time, tell the unions either they co operate or they lose their jobs, there is no shortage of job seekers. The public are entitled to a good viable postal service at reasonable cost, how this is acheived is irrelevant.

  • Comment number 60.

    .......another Labour party broadcast brought to you by Nick Robinson.

    "His answer should still the doubts"

    You've got to be joking, right?? Since when has anything this man has said been the truth?

    If this had been a Conservative giving this interview, I'm in no doubt that you'd be busy looking for any way to doubt or question their words - but Mandleson? No, you just toe the party line as usual... Well done Nick, I'm sure you'll get your reward soon enough.

    By the way, while you were speaking to Mandleson did you ask him about what he really got up to on that yacht? We know now he lied when he said he didn't discuss tariffs, so what was discussed and what did he benefit from it?

    A lot of us, (the people who pay your wages), are still waiting for you to balance your outburst against Osbourne with a full account of what Mandleson got up to - guess we'll be waiting for a long time, huh?

  • Comment number 61.

    Dear Nick,

    I see this is more good news to keep you away from the real stuff.

    GB in Iraq announces troop coming home next July. BIG ON BBC.

    The latest UK unemployment figures, due later, likely to reach two million in the coming months. not so big on bbc.

    Good day to bury bad news II .........!

  • Comment number 62.

    Take it you are so naive that you expected

    an honest answer?

    Black can be white with this CHAP.

  • Comment number 63.

    Understanding Mandelese (II)

    > We have no intention to privatize the PO and no plan to change our intention.

    Ignoring logical problems and thinking politically, I take this to mean: We intend to privatize the profitable parts of the PO (up to 49% of it), and will do so regardless of the reaction to our proposals.

    If this is the intention, then I think that it would be another terrible act of political asset stripping. The PO is a public service and so can be expected to run at a loss (to be funded by the taxpayer). Selling off its profitable parts would provide much needed revenue in the short term, however, in the long run it would increase the burden on the taxpayer (as the profits generated by the sold operations would go to the shareholders).

    It may well be necessary to reorganize the PO in order to make it more efficient. But it should be possible to do so without privatizing any of it.

  • Comment number 64.

    'The second part is even less clear. There is an intention to do some action A, and there is no plan to change the intention to do A. But it is unclear what it would mean to plan to change an intention. On one interpretation, if you plan to change your intention to do A, then you plan not to do A; that is, you intend not to do A. But you can't intend (plan) to do A and intend (plan) not to do A.'
    But, he's more subtle than that! He states that there is 'no intention to privatise it and no plan to change our intention either.' So he's actually saying that although there is NO intention to privatise, there is also no plan to CHANGE an intention that doesn't exist.
    What he means by privatisation is anybody's guess!

  • Comment number 65.

    Dear Robert
    £22 BILLION POUNDS is all Mandelson and Brown are after, to stem their Hemoraging Monetary program and its recovery policy.
    Brown, This man is an embarrasment to the country he has not even got the Common Curtisy to address Parliament regards our Forces leaving Iraq in July 2009.
    then, ---be transferred to Afghanistan,
    Many People now question this recovery program, as it continues to be battered by Fraud after Fraud, reducing its capabilty to Copewith the Domestic Crisis. and that is all it is
    The Governments Domestic Policy is the main issue and the cause of this disaster to Britainm, Not the world wide crisis he makes it out to be,.

  • Comment number 66.


    That's all right then. Good to know that at least one NuLab Minister doesn't spin the facts.

    After all - Mandelson is well known for not spinning.

    Presumably there wasn't enough time to ask him about Russians and tariffs?

  • Comment number 67.


    Nice one

  • Comment number 68.

    Mr Roinson,

    Perhaps it's an appropriate moment to ask Mandelson why only just over 10% of mail gets sorted electronically in the UK compared to over 80% in the Netherlands. Why are many of UK work practices so outdated? Look also at all those turnstile jockeys in tube and train stations - so much hidden unemployment! It wouldn't have anything to do with unions power thanks to them bankrolling the Labour party (72 million pounds since 2002!).

    Apart from the above, another few ingredients for your spin class are provided by today's Independent, which by the way seems to be living up to its name, rather than you who has turned the BBC into the LBC, with the L for ...... (6 dots) and not London:

    "At what might be called the micro end of the scale we have almost 100,000 retired public sector workers whose pensions were overpaid to the collective tune of £126m. The same day we learnt – thanks to the Commons Public Accounts Committee – that a government "efficiency drive" at the Department for Transport that was supposed to save £57m will actually end up costing £81m. Last, but by no means least, we have the school testing fiasco, a scandal spread over several months, which culminated in the publication of the official inquiry report yesterday."

    Your well-meaning, independtly minded, abroad living foreigener

    PS I haven't yet seen the spin on yesterday's news of the CBI's complaint about the 950 billion public sector pension liability and the small businesses complaining about the admin burden caused by the VAT decrease.

  • Comment number 69.

    Oh, I see Mr Robinson. Lord Mandelson told you "no to full privatisation", and YOU believe him !?!? If course you do. After all, he's never lied has he ?!?

    If ever there was evidence of your gullibility (or worse, your unwillingness to question anything about NuLabour or Mandelson), then this is it.

    What an utterly useless and lightweight blog. No wonder, despite numerous postings from others, that you seem determined NOT to pursue any question of Mandeleson's dealings with Depriaska and Aluminium quotas. The absence of any response by you to any postings of others about this speaks volumes !

  • Comment number 70.

    What this government has done to the Royal Mail is an obscenity.

    They put a management team in charge with a clear incentive to break the business in the immediate term in exchange for high bonuses. The parallels with our failed banks illustrates the menace of management bonuses.

    Now the business in broken and the profitable bits handed over to third parties, they perceive a need to sell a portion of the business to a minority private partner.

    Is anyone going to be that stupid?

    This is vampire psychology. It would be suicide for anyone to get involved. Their funds will be sucked dry and their management spat out in no time.

  • Comment number 71.


    I think your wrong on most Labour MPs keeping quiet on this. One has already resigned from his minster post. Jim McGovern.

    This subject is toxic to Labour Mps with small majorites and with post offices closing down.

    But at least we can now see the end of this awful govenment and Crash Golden Brown coming to a end.

  • Comment number 72.

    "He told me: "We have no desire to privatise, no intention to privatise it and no plan to change our intention either."

    So, he's saying yes to part privatisation but no to full privatisation. "

    If you really believe that the first statement is a commitment to the promise in the second statement you really are a lot more naive than you look.

  • Comment number 73.

    My only problem is government's - not just this shower - don't have a good track record with privatising or part-privatising.

    And, as ever with New Labour, you know the reasoning behind it won't involve the benefit of the UK - try following the money. It'll have something to do with moving accounting figures, in order to fiddle the books.

  • Comment number 74.

    fairlyopenmind @33 said....

    "Bunch of commercial illiterates."

    Never has a truer word been spoken.

  • Comment number 75.

    Has it really taken Mandy and the labour party this long to realise that they have maintained a dinosaur?

    Restricted its ability to raise money to modernise equipment

    Restricted its ability to compete with the others allowed access to the market

    Surely now they have realised that without this package there will be no Royal Mail, and they pick TNT because it has one of the worst business and customer reputations across Europe.

    The problem has been, all along, the inability of a government to recognise any innovation beyond a soundbite that doesn't deliver a very quick outcome.

    Now, it is too late to stop the job haemorrhaging and Royal Mail will lose even more ability to compete.

    Did you manage to ask any questions about certain parties on boats?

  • Comment number 76.

    Can you ask him about the cost of public pensions, including MP's pensions and if they were realistic considering they were being paid for by the private sector with a less generous provision.

    Better not. It might be considered a bit threatening.

    Keep lapping the milk.

  • Comment number 77.

    But do the government intend to plan to change their intention to not privatise the Royal Mail?

  • Comment number 78.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 79.

    Oops, someone rang the office bell, but it was't your ambassador to my country to complain about my voiced fears of hyperinflation.

    Just to get yor ambassador out of his comfortable office chair:

    UK debt-to-GDP ratio was 146% in 1956, compared to 58% for Switzerland.
    UK inflation has totalled 1700% since 1956, compared to 330% in Switzerland.
    12.2 Siwss francs to the pound in 1956, 1.71 now.

    1.18 euro to the pound when Osborne spoke out and he got ridiculed by Brown and the guy you're allowed to call Mandy, 1.09 euro to the pound now!

    Remember what Brown wrote in the Evening Standard in 1992: weak currency due to weak economy due to weak government.
    Happy to provide the full quote again, but it's also on your election fever blog from yesterday.

  • Comment number 80.

    Mr Barker @41..

    "The final salary pension scheme was costed.
    employees pay into it, as does the organisation as a whole, whether its the 65 plus scheme or the 1/80 scheme, it is an intergral part of the terms and conditions of employment."

    Yes..that's what all final salary schemes what's your point?

    The problem is that all final salary schemes are based upon certain 'assumptions'..such as forecast inflation;average life expectancy;investment returns;salary increases;forward liabilty etc.

    Back in 1997,as one of his first acts (against all advice) the new Chancellor,Brown,stripped pension funds of £5billion per annum,which has been ongoing for 11 years.Do the math,including interest,and you might find that this is the main reason for final salary schemes collapsing.

    And although they might be part of the T&C's of employment,they are not sacrosanct.When Companies have to prop up the MFR to the tune of millions per year,in current commercial climates,it doesn't take Einstein to work out that something has to give.

  • Comment number 81.

    The question that should be asked is not whether it is partially or fully privatised but why after over a century in existnece is this compnay still loss making?

    For most of its life it was a monopoly and still loss making.

    Reliability has aways been an issue all of my life.

    Now the unmions are bleating that they won't be able to keep their penisons - welcome to the real world lads...

    This whole story is a metaphor for the failure of newlabour; the idea that the private sector can prop up a bloated and inefficient public sector and its bloated pension schemes has been blown out of the water.

    The day of reckoning has arrived and guess what? Someone else is prepared to take this copnay over and slash costs but provide a better service... just like happpened at British Steel when the union strangelhold was broken.

    Can't bear the man personally but I say good luck to Mandleson; sack the workshy and sell the Royal mail to the compnay that can provide us with a modern day postal service.

    Has anyone else noticed that post office van drivers are some of the most aggressive in the country? Another indication of an institution that has completely lost touch with its customers.

    Call an election

  • Comment number 82.

    @Don't need the grief, 80,

    You've just hit on one important explanations for the uk's business investment drought!

  • Comment number 83.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 84.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 85.

    Well if Lord Mandleson has told you then it must be okay. It's not like he's twice had to resign from the government, or masterminded the government's new spin operation is it?

    Why do you not display the same level of sceptisism with him that you do with Cameron? Mandleson says: "We have no desire to privatise, no intention to privatise it and no plan to change our intention either." Which means, "we're not ruling it out."

    Remember that referendum we were supposed to have on the EU Treaty?
    We believed them then, and it was even in their manifesto. Why should we believe them now?

  • Comment number 86.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 87.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 88.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 89.


    Strange. Your blogs, sometimes appear infrequently, but then, like buses, several come in short succession.

    Late yesterday afternoon you were suggesting that Mandleson's "duty" to honour a manifesto commitment to keep the Royal Mail in public hands could expire shortly.

    Then suddenly (overnight) you've been granted an interview with the man himself and are able to allay any previous misunderstandings and fears.

    Could it be that you were summoned to the presence at short notice because your previous blog was not "on message" and correction was needed urgently?

    It certainly adds to suspicions that you are merely a mouthpiece for the present Government.

  • Comment number 90.

    A single, fixed price, 6 day a week service is unrealistic and there is a good reason that a private company would not continue to do so.

    Just because it's a nice thing for the public doesn't mean it works as a business model. That's one of the reasons Royal Mail is broken.

    There's a good many more, and bad management and no local devolution of authority are but two of them.

  • Comment number 91.

    "Not thought through" used to be Gordon Brown's favourite insult, and it comes quickly to mind.

    This is a Royal Mess: No sane investor would go near a £7 billion pension deficit- in 2008, or 2009, or 2010 ...

  • Comment number 92.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 93.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 94.

    Mr Robinson,

    Can you perhaps contact the Foreign Office since your ambassadors seem to have to up their game: sterling has just fallen though 1.09 against the euro!

    PS Has Mandy, Mr Mandelson for me, already instructed you how to spin today's unemployment figures? Get on with that spinning, otherwise you won't be able to finish before the gym closes!

  • Comment number 95.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 96.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 97.

    1. i keep hearing that there is a management problem well yes there is any time management want to modernise the postal worker go on strike.

    Cause and effect loss of business to the Royal Mail cost go up income goes down.

    2. I am not in favour of nationalisation for the sake of it but we really do need to bring back to the Royal Mail all the business post it has lost. So this would be my proposal.

    RM needs to streamline and fully modernise the unions want to hold onto as many jobs as possible. Right re nationalise all mail deliveries on the understanding with the unions that all aspects and areas of the RM will be modernised and that future working practises will be discussed in a sensible manner and not in the usual belligerent we ain't changing nothing.

    Cause and effect if RM goes private you can kiss your a$$ good by to many more jobs.

  • Comment number 98.

    How can TNT express an interest in the Post Office?
    In my previous Job I have many dealings with TNT and roumers were abound that they hade cashflow problems.
    This was back in August/September.
    This may well turn out to be an untruth, but surely this is worth checking on as we may have ministers quitting theri jobs, all for nothing!


  • Comment number 99.

    It was TNT who lost the 25million names on the computer disc and one or two others.

  • Comment number 100.

    Nick, when the day comes that ministers are being jailed for telling lies to their electorate, that is the time to take what the Government say at face value.

    Until then, actions speak louder than words. Everyone knows privatising various public services has had no impact on their ability to deliver their services properly, but has had a massive impact on the bank balances of their shareholders. There is absolutely no logical reason to believe this will buck that trend, even if it is only "part" privatisation.


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