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Convincing the rebels

Nick Robinson | 10:20 UK time, Tuesday, 24 February 2009

It was meant to be ministers' trump card.

Royal Mail vanThe hole in the Royal Mail's pension fund is so big that they've been warned the company is "balance sheet insolvent" and postal workers wouldn't get their full pension if the scheme was wound up.

Ministers released the letter from the pension fund trustees on the eve of today's demonstration by the postal workers union against part privatisation.

The letter's message is clear: "How can a union and Labour MPs protest when we're coming to the rescue of the posties pension fund at the very moment many want us to scrap cushy public sector pensions?"

Rebels may reply "we'll take the pension protection without the privatisation, thanks".

By starting this bill in the Lords, ministers have given themselves a couple of months to try to win the argument with almost 140 rebel Labour MPs that the taxpayer cannot be asked to foot the bill for reforming Royal Mail as well as paying its pensions.

The problem they face is that numbers have almost lost their meaning these days - after all, what's £7bn at a time we're spending £1.3tn on bailing out the banks?

PS Forgive the shameless plug, but you can catch up on the first of my programmes, the Prime Ministers, by listening here.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Has anyone seen my nose? It's around here somewhere!

  • Comment number 2.

    Nick you can be forgiven a shameless plug in light of what is truly shameless namely this governments financial efforts.

    Or perhaps that should read blameless.
    That is how Brown would have us believe it is.

    Nick you once delighted in telling us how Labour responded "where's the money coming from" everytime the Conservatives made a proposal.

    Why do you now not ask Darling and Brown the same question every time they annouce a new wheeze on how to spend 2030's tax bill

  • Comment number 3.




    LDV Bailout.

    Any news Nick, or still head in the sand time?

  • Comment number 4.

    The theory is that 1.3tn's a massive loan to the banks, not a write-off - unless you consider the banks are fundamentally balance-sheet insolvent as well.

    Someone's bound to take you to task over that "what's 7bn?", so I might as well. That 1.3tn's not just a year's income, it's something like the entire lifetime savings of every man woman and child in the country. If it's just become funny-money, then it's not just the Government become morally bankrupt, nor the Royal Mail and banks balance-sheet bankrupt, but the entire nation just been flushed down the pan with a careless so what?

    We really expect something a bit more spirited from you - we're getting very close to serious trouble from people with nothing left to lose.

    If you want something useful to post, start making a depth gauge to find the bottom.

  • Comment number 5.


    I have a solution. Let RBS take over the PO and then they can lend the pension fund the GBP7bn they need (for now) to prop up the pension fund. That way it's covered by the toxic loans guarantee and everyone's happy.

    Plus, all the RBS branches can double as post offices and the old post offices can be sold to KFC for their new restaurants.


  • Comment number 6.

    Does Meddlesome think we're all as mad and stupid as he is?

    If the pension shortfall is as dire as is suggested, in this time of GLOBAL economic depression can we really afford to rely on a FOREIGN owner of the post office paying in an enormous amount of money to stabilise it? Specially if their alternative is to make the workers redundant and throw them on to state benefits anyway?

    Maybe he should ask El Gordo to keep an eye on things for him.

  • Comment number 7.

    There should be an inquiry into where that pension money went.

    Why is there such a black hole?

  • Comment number 8.

    Where is the regulation to plug the gap in the pensions hole? Surely any business that had a hole that big would have administrators or massive fines or something from government. This is a complete disgrace that the posties will potentially suffer a loss of pensions for the coming years because Labour have failed them and not made sure the pensions were covered.
    I'm not sure but are they final salary pensions though? If they are then along with a lot of other people, these will have to stop.

  • Comment number 9.


    this is disgraceful. The government must face the commons immediately on this issue. There must be a vote, now, which I can only hope the government loses, and then a vote of no confidence.

    This must be brought to an end. It is totally unacceptable.

    Trouble is I can see the international crisis getting worse, then Gordon may well bring in a who rules the country, as the people take to the streets.

  • Comment number 10.


    where is Miss Trimble when we need her so much. Trimble for Prime Minister, she would seem to know an awful lot more than Gordon Brown.

  • Comment number 11.

    Nick you once delighted in telling us how Labour responded "where's the money coming from" everytime the Conservatives made a proposal.

    Can I be his teapot?
    This is just endless bad news. We are broke and staving off depression by unimaginable borrowing. This will prolong that DEPRESSION. The State will run out of money for the wages bill and pension liability, eventually. As for pensions, how many like me were ruined in 1997 by Brown's ill conceived pension grab? I wonder what will happen when the power goes off. No TV, internet, nothing.

  • Comment number 12.

    There is nothing wrong with shameless plugs Nick.Having said that I would never be so crude as to shamelessly plug the phantasmagorical rock band Lincoln City at anyoldfun!

    Seriously though, the Royal Mail and Pensions together. How big a yawn are we going for here?

    Much more interesting the ICM poll in this morning's Guardian highlighting the fact that most people think Labour would be better off with anyone but Gordon.

    I couldn't agree more. Just when you think that you have finally flushed away the Blair Bush era you look down and what do you have. Not so much a floating voter as a floater.

    Perhaps Gordon could take over the helm at Royal Mail from his £1million a year fellow Scot and Heriot Watt graduate Adam Crozier. Having single handedly destroyed the private pension industry Gordon could now spread his financial expertise elsewhere in a way that isn't quite so harmful to the country.

  • Comment number 13.

    This is just new labour spin.

  • Comment number 14.

    In my opinion, the ongoing saga of the Royal Mail neatly encapsulates the contradictions at the very heart of 'New Labour'.

    A couple of years back, Leighton and Crozier presented the Government with a plan to turn the Royal Mail into a partnership ala the very successful John Lewis Partnership.

    The Government said no.

    You would think that the one thing a Labour Government would be keen on is empowering the workers.

    Obviously, I am completely confused as to what a Socialist Government really means.

    Are you?

  • Comment number 15.

    Might the best solution be just to take the whole thing into state control?

    The employees would all become civil servants. Since public sector pensions are essentially an unfunded ponzi scheme - they are paid from current income rather than from the saved funds of the contributors - the pension number would magically disappear. Hey presto!

  • Comment number 16. an election, please.

    And don't rig this one like Glenrothes.

  • Comment number 17.


    typical ---- 6000 out of work, and labour could not care less
    I always wondered why Mandelson came back in favour, now we Know, The Government knew more than they were letting on about this Crisis,

    What is so Bloody annoying is that Politicians still refuse to say sorry, when the whole dam business lies at the feet of Gordon "Stalin" Brown.

  • Comment number 18.

    This is a complete and utter disgrace. What a shambles!

    Is there no incompetence, no sick or devious trick this repugnant government will not deign to commit?

  • Comment number 19.

    "Rebels" is a politically loaded label, implying wrong-doing...

    Aren't these "rebels" merely MP's who are doing their job properly and representing their constituents, sticking two-fingers to the party heirarchy who are out of touch in this particular instance ?

    If so, can we have more rebellion please !

  • Comment number 20.

    9. At 11:10am on 24 Feb 2009, T A Griffin (TAG) wrote:

    Trouble is I can see the international crisis getting worse, then Gordon may well bring in a who rules the country, as the people take to the streets.


    Let Nick stay in his middle class, taxpayer protected, cosseted little number with the BBC. He's comfortable and why the rabble keep having pops at him is just unbelievable.

    The BBC is either in complete and utter denial as to the seriousness of the 'downturn' (makes you laugh, doesn't it!) or they are simply ignoring it. The anger that is building up in the private and, now, semi-private, sector is palpable.

    The lid is going to come off - and soon - if this gets much worse. And it will - much, much worse.

  • Comment number 21.

    Well said, Nick, as one of your most ardent critics, I am rereading through some of your recent postings with a greater understanding.
    Who are these people running these organizations and allowing them to get into such a mess?

    Beware the City merry-go-gound indeed.

  • Comment number 22.

    Gordon is so out of touch now, I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't use the remaining gold reserves to buy 'tulip bulbs'!

  • Comment number 23.

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

  • Comment number 24.

    I'd bet a pound to a penny that a good part of the pension 'black hole' is due to the stock market having crashed back to where it was when Blair was first elected !!

    A lot of the pension fund is likely in shares, shares go up and down - a short fall today means almost nothing... The fund is expected/designed to grow so it delivers when it is needed.

    To put a size on any 'black hole' is relatively meaningless.

    Keep looking ahead Nick, ignore all the chaos and destruction around you if you pretend it doesn't exist, maybe it will all go away huh?

    Did Mandleson deliberately do this now just to give you something to write about??

  • Comment number 25.

    Okay I am slightly confused I understand that a number of the posters are frothing with rage, but what do they think we should do? Not privatise part of the RM, meaning the taxpayer has to foot yet more money (I thought most of us were against bailing out people with our taxes)? Fair enough but after RM where do we draw the line?

    It is pretty simple where the pension fund has gone, the DJ Index has lost almost half its value in the last 12 months (13,000 points down to about 7,400) the rest of the markets have done the same, so any pension fund investing heavily in the stock market will have suffered. Of course they could have used hedge funds and shorted positions, but remember shorting banks drives them over the edge and is slightly limited these days. If the Government is going to safeguard the posties pension then they should safeguard mine, which has also lost money this year. Hey lets protect everyone’s, I’m sure that’s not going to be expensive!

    I understand the anger, good old Gordon stole from the pension schemes then seemed to flush the money down the toilet, but accepting that what when the stock markets are down and the interest rates are rock bottom are we meant to do? Constructive criticism is so much more effective than just adjusting the same old rants!

  • Comment number 26.

    Who cut the pension funds dividend tax credit for heaven's sake?

    Why are you insulting our intelligence with articles like this?

    Gordon brown cut the pension funds dividend tax credit and now the Royal Mail pension fund has a black hole.

    What goes around comes around and everytime this government turns it runs into a giant steaming cowpat.

    Every problem that now confronts them is fo their own making. Gordon Brown made this mess of the pension funds and newlabour should get off their backsides and kick him out before trying to sort it out.

    Keeping Gordon Brown in power to shamble along will send newlabour to a ringing defeat because they will be damned with failing to stop the rot within their own tribe.

    Call an election andi n the name of God go.

  • Comment number 27.

    If we are taking over the pension problem why are the government (Mandy/Brown) so keen to sell it off? We hear all this chatter about saving our companies and now they are just going to let more of bits of our family silver go to foreigners.

    Shame on you Brown for letting the country get in such a mess. Our infastructure and utilities now belong to those who do not live here. This really is maddness economically, and it gives others huge contol over us.

    They are the Know Nothing Party.

  • Comment number 28.

    So why do the Posties get special preference on their pension scheme when the members of Equitable Life have to wait for years and years and then there is talk of the deserving few...

    Surely not an issue of demographics and voting patterns? If the Post Office's pension scheme is not underwritten by the government, can we please ensure that there is equal treatment with the shabby treatment of Eq Life pensioners, many of whom have died before even a remote prospect of compensation.

    Certainly my father was reduced to playing the lottery in the forlorn hope of winning back some of his losses on Eq Life - and all he had done - like the postmen - was to save responsibly, as requested by the Government - for his (and my mothers) retirement.

  • Comment number 29.

    The Royal Mail (ex.GPO) is a British institution that we should all be proud of.

    The UK desperately needs strong communities, and the Royal Mail supports the Posties who provide a stable, socially important element in our society.

    The government should be STRENGTHENING it, not COMMERCIALISING it.

    It's not rocket science.

  • Comment number 30.


    The lack of effective regulation has allowed companies to neglect their pension pots. Royal Mail's is in a parlous state, but quite a few others are facing shortfalls as well.

    And it all comes back to one person - yep, the Golem did not do his job. Responsible companies funded their pensions but posted lower profits as a result. Profligate firms have not funded their pension pots as well. Didn't Royal Mail pay large bonuses a few years ago on the back of huge profits?

    Of course the Golem as Chancellor was busy lapping up all the tax revenues. Personally I do not think he has ever cared for the humble worker's welfare.

    I seem to remember when the Scottish Omnibus group was privatised, retired bus drivers were set for a huge windfall for the company pension pot. The Golem had other ideas and ruled that the excess should stay with the Treasury.

    There was much wrangling since in the Scottish parliament, as English bus drivers did benefit from their windfall. In the end there was a messy compromise involving ex-gratia payments.

    Btw who is stupid enough to buy Royal mail at this point in time? Remember selling gold reserves at rock bottom prices anyone?

  • Comment number 31.

    Dear Nick,

    Nice story from your (HP)source, another Robert Maxwell to blame is there?

    Now how about yesterday and LDV? Why was my comment about this rather rotten smell, removed and blamed on being 'offensive etc etc'???

    A British company is goin to the wall and no one is going to do anything, so much for 'enterprise'!

    Is this old British company going to the wall because a few miilion of her maj? Banks are getting buckets full daily but not BRITISH JOBS WITH BRITISH WORKERS though.

    Just asking.


  • Comment number 32.

    26. RobinJD:

    "Who cut the pension funds dividend tax credit for heaven's sake?"

    Right. Brown and Labour should never, ever be allowed to forget the pension raid and what this has done to millions of prudent people. They have pinched GBP 100bn from pension funds since 1997 - and then they are surprised that pension funds are in trouble!

    Pension funds, the BTL fiasco, the stock market crunch and, latterly, lousy interest rates on savings. If they had set out to penalise prudence, they could not have done a better job!

  • Comment number 33.

    Let's all sing together ...

    "You say a million, I say a billion, you say a trillion, I say a squillion ...

    Million, billion, trillion, squillion ...

    Let's call the whole thing off ..."

    (with apologies to Louis Armstrong)

  • Comment number 34.

    Some bloggers have mentioned the words 'Ponzi' and 'HMG' a number of times, usually in the context of recent bailouts and the NI scheme.

    Calm down, calm down.

    This isn't any old Ponzi scam, this is an HMG Ponzi scam, where there is a crucial difference.

    Ponzi and his admiring followers down the decades right up to Madoff and Stanford, did not have the ability to print money so eventually their plans came unstuck ... but HMG does.

    As journalist Dominic Lawson (who I cribbed this from) says 'Eat your heart out Ponzi'.

    Interestingly, Stanford did come pretty close to being able to print money by virtue of owning banks and somebody thinks its a good idea to let a certain R. Branson have a banking license?

    I wonder what journalist Tom Bowers (author of a revealing unauthorised biog of Branson) makes of that idea?

  • Comment number 35.

    #17. So true. LDV needs a £25 million bridging loan and is told to get stuffed! RBS probably spends more every year on toilet paper! Yes of course we can't let the banks go under or else we're all screwed but there are clear double standards operating here and that will stick in people's throats.

    And you don't have to be a genius to see how the BNP will seek to exploit this "One rule for the fat cats, and another for the working man!"

  • Comment number 36.

    Privatise, privatise, privatise!

    This could be the last gasp of the New Labour project!

  • Comment number 37.

    For several years now Adam Crozier and Allan Leighton have been taking large salaries and big bonuses for running the post office, while the people who make it all possible - ie the post men and women who actually stick letters through the doors - continued to be paid peanuts.

    No doubt the pensions of Crozier and Leighton are safe and they will live in comfort for the rest of their lives.

    Until this country starts to pay as much attention to the people who do the work as it does to the 'geniuses' that run business and the shareholders, we will always be in a mess.

    If TNT can turn the post office round and make a profit, why are there not people who could be hired to do the job so the post office makes the profit?

    But first things first - sack Crozier and Leighton who have failed completely

  • Comment number 38.

    Pension? what's one of those.

    I have spent my entire working life so far (31 years and counting) working in private industry.

    For most of that period, I have been paying into various pension schemes most of which are now worthless thanks to company bankrupcy, collapsing stock markets and finally government taxation.

    These state employees have no idea how lucky they are - I will have to carry on working until I drop or face my final years on the state pension and income support.

  • Comment number 39.

    ref 17 FreeCornwall

    The government will provide "economic" reasons why it cannot become involved in LDV. Here is a reason closer to home.

    LDV is owned by Oleg Deripaska. Oleg's guests on his "super" yacht during the summer included Peter Mandelson and George Osborne. You may recollect that George spilled the beans on some of the "discussions" and was removed from subsequent guest lists.

    Mandy. Osborne. Derispaska. Freebies on expensive yachts...

    There are a lot of white van men out there. The government wants to drive carefully, and the Tories will be happy to keep mum.

    LDV workers... you don't really think that you matter to this lot, do you?

  • Comment number 40.

    Hi Moderators

    been checking my email inbox, but haven't had your email yet explaining why my posting #23 was referred.

    There were only 3 words in it!!

    (None was a swear word, by the way)!

    Explanation by email please!!

  • Comment number 41.

    Try looking at this through the other end of the telescope. By taking on the pension fund liabilities, the Government will get their hands on the £22 billion pension fund assets.

    They would then have the choice of leaving the £22b intact or using it for short term spending thus increasing the shortfall and adding to all the other unfunded public sector pension liabiltities.

    That would mean opting for short term political advantage over prudent management of the economy.

    Surely not ?

  • Comment number 42.

    Of course - the post office pension liability is nothing compared to the wider public sector pensions liability.

    The government have been warned for years that they were under-couting the total unfunded pension liability.

    So public sector pensions are a £1 Trillion problem of their own. Of course Gordon can still see no need to scale back the number of public sector workers or reign in their gold plated pensions.

    The problem for future generations is worse, because Mad McBroon has also trashed the private sector pension schemes.

  • Comment number 43.

    39. At 12:30pm on 24 Feb 2009, Zootmac

    I understand that Mr Deripaska's yacht, Queen K, is valued at between GBP60-80 million.

    Why doesn't he sell that or raise a mortgage on it to buoy up LDV?

  • Comment number 44.


    "Obviously, I am completely confused as to what a Socialist Government really means."

    That's probably because we have never had one.

    New Labour wouldn't recognise Socialism if it slapped them in the face with a wet kipper. Most of them are a bunch of careerist hacks, with no real political principles one can discern other than being in office.

    Interesting that they are now discovering some backbone re. Royal Mail privatisation as they see electoral defeat and the loss of their seats / perks staring them in the face...

    Or am I just being cynical?

  • Comment number 45.

    Speaking as one whose post office pension is due to start in 2015 I have a few points.

    As far as i am aware the Post Office Pension Scheme is not largely tied to stock markets , however a sizeable proportion of the value is tied up in UK and overseas commercial property. Shopping centres and industrial estates and the like and their value is currently not much stronger than the housing market.

    The main reasons why there is a short fall are two fold. First when the stock market was high in the 80's and the mid 90's the fund was theoretically overvalued and post office management took the opportunity to stop all cash payments in - which boosted their profit figures - which went straight to the government. If they had continued with the many milllions a year as they should have paid there would be a much lower shortfall now. Secondly as has been mentioned previously the tax regime changed by mr Brown in 1997 did a lot to reduce all pension funds and the post offices was no exception.

    And for those asking yes it is a final salary scheme but based on 1/80ths so you have to work for 40 years to get a max pension of half your final salary. So for most workers who are ordinary postmen / postwomen this would mean 40 years of long hours on pretty low pay. I think you will find that civil servants are on 1/60ths and so have to work a shorter period to get max pension and most get better paid too.

    Not all final salary schemes are alike!

  • Comment number 46.

    ref 43 yellowbelly 1959

    The answer is that he like his yacht and has written off his 50 million investment in LGV.

    The company hasn't made any money for him, he has calculated that it never will, and he wants out. A taxpayer injection would allow him to see the exit and, perhaps, return him a few quid to re-stock the champagne cabinet in preparation for Mandy's next visit.

    Unfortunately for Oleg, Mandy cannot become involved because that might lead to accusations of financial irregularity.

    Perish the thought.

  • Comment number 47.

    44. At 12:44pm on 24 Feb 2009, badgercourage wrote:

    "Obviously, I am completely confused as to what a Socialist Government really means."

    That's probably because we have never had one.

    New Labour wouldn't recognise Socialism if it slapped them in the face with a wet kipper. Most of them are a bunch of careerist hacks, with no real political principles one can discern other than being in office.

    Interesting that they are now discovering some backbone re. Royal Mail privatisation as they see electoral defeat and the loss of their seats / perks staring them in the face...

    Or am I just being cynical?


    My local (Labour) MP, voted WITH the government and FOR Post Office closures, but spearheaded a LOCAL campaign to keep open a threatened Post Office in her constituency.

    How politically expedient (i.e. hypocritical) is that?

  • Comment number 48.

    Robert Peston was nearly as breathless as Kate Winslett last night on BBC News when he was busting a gut to reveal a leaked letter about the Royal Mail pension deficit sent by the PM (Mandleson).

    Another coup for Mr Peston or just a tool of the Labour Party?

    When will the BBC wake up and realise Mandy is just using them for his own means? Last night was rather clumsy, even for him.

    NuLabour have been in power nearly 12 years and during all of that time they have failed to get a grip of Royal Mail. It just about sums it all up about this govt. Behind the curve all the way.

    Words just fail me about the way we have been governed by Labour. We are now living with the consequences of their total and utter mismanagement. I think the police are right to be concerned about the middle classes protesting this year. We have been taxed to the hilt, had our liberties seriously curtailed. Sooner or later they will push the electorate too far. We are now going to be lumbered with even
    greater loans/ under writing to the banks
    than has gone before which will have to be paid back by tax rises or cuts in public spending; but not until Gordon has gone back over the border and some poor other sod, of whatever political party, has to pick up the pieces and put it right.

    Quite why Labour is picking this fight over the Royal Mail now, when there is so much opposition to the plan from its own MPs is rather curious. Perhaps there is some very bad news NuLabour wants to bury this Thursday? Just trying to undertand their mindset that`s all!

  • Comment number 49.

    Young Robinson, it's not numbers that have lost their meaning, more a case of the Golem not understanding money. The Golem has never had a real job, never owned a car, never lived in the real world. He doesn't understand money. It's like he's playing around with Monopoly money, chucking it around here, there and everywhere.
    On Sunday he was saying that he was going to put "people first" and - in a record, surely, even for the Golem - come Tuesday he's chucking another £500 billion at the servants (banks).
    It's such a shame that Edward I isn't around, he knew how to deal with Scottish Golems.

  • Comment number 50.

    Message 26 RobinJD

    `What goes around comes around and every time this government turns it runs into a giant steaming cowpat.'

    Excellent expression: a quite delightful turn of phrase!

  • Comment number 51.

    SaltaireSam @ 37

    Adam Crozier and Allan Leighton had a plan, namely, the partnership model.

    It seemed like a very reasonable plan to me, one which cleverly tapped the ethos of the Royal Mail business.

    But the Government blocked it.

    I do not know why, maybe somebody out there can inform us?

    I suspect that Crozier and Leighton are very frustrated individuals in that they want to be part of a successful, thriving business but for some, almost certainly political, reason the dead hand of Government is upon them.

    Well, actually the dead hand of Government seems to bear down on all of us these dog days.

  • Comment number 52.


    I think we are entering the period of the inquiry into a war where nobody at the end could actually work out why it had started. Yes, it is my old favourite the War of Jenkins Ear, the war which you alluded to in your programme this morning, or am I wrong?

    Another one of your analogies, or could it be a metaphor, never was very good at my formal english!

  • Comment number 53.

    36. At 12:06pm on 24 Feb 2009, deanthetory wrote:
    Privatise, privatise, privatise!

    This could be the last gasp of the New Labour project!


    Padawan, have you completed your homework on Common Purpose yet?

  • Comment number 54.

    To those calling for an immediate election - I absolutely agree - that is what we should have. But we need to be very vigilant.

    There is still some concern being expressed over the Glenrothes by-election, remember a crucial one for Brown.

    But as for civil disobedience, Nicks words from yesterday were prophetic I think, with the emphasis on 'wouldn't it?'

    "the prime minister ordered thousands of troops to mass in Hyde Park. Some accused him of exaggerating the threat in order to whip up public anger and to bolster support for the government. Such a thing would be impossible today, wouldn't it?"

    As for civil disobedience, again from yesterday -

    55. At 11:43am on 23 Feb 2009, the-real-truth wrote:
    "Brown isn't going anywhere - he hasn't waited this long to be beaten in an election!

    A bit of civil disobedience along side the depression and we will have a national emergency with democracy suspended."

    And why has the govt passed laws making it illegal to photograph a policeman

    talking of which, I wonder which policemen they'll retain, not the older nationalistic ones loyal to the people of the UK that's for sure.

  • Comment number 55.

    I live in the US now! I find this shocking! US mail service having issue but I don't think the government just going to drop them and run like brown wants to do.

    Royal mail should NEVER be sold off! tho If it's costing so much and it's becoming a heavy wallet on taxs payers then Royal mail should reform. Even the union likes it or not. There need to balance the books somewhere but not selling it is the answer.

    I mean look what they done with the national rail? it's a joke and it cost too much. Where there be share holder there be cost to pay.

    Stuff like this we really need to have the commons to Question every judgment as i have no confidence in the government system anymore.

  • Comment number 56.

    We urgently need an election , the country cannot take much more of Brown ..smith and co . please someone start the ball rolling .

  • Comment number 57.

    Slightly off topic, but as so many posters have mentioned LDV and you have a picture of a van on the blog (not LDV I note), I wonder if any posters have actually driven an LDV van recently. If so they would probably realise that they are probably not the best commercial vehicles on the market and not a good investment for the taxpayer.

  • Comment number 58.

    48 Brian
    "I think the police are right to be concerned about the middle classes protesting this year."

    I don't think they will be too bothered about a few letters to The Mail and some heckling by the Womens Institute.

  • Comment number 59.

    Can you ask them next time they bring up the royal mail why the government allow work to be contracted out to what has been found to be incompetent,and more expensive to the tax payer courier style firms .

    They have been undermining the post office and the royal mail for years.

    The removal of books for benefit payments for example was supposed to cut costs,has it ??? bank transfers actually cost the tax payer more...

    I can think of no policy that has come in over the last ten years that has actually cost the tax payer less money.

    Part privatisation will be another one to add to the list of Major Fail.

    And while we are on pension pots if final salary schemes are doomed then why are MP's still getting one.
    IMO they should provide their own out of their not inconsiderable salary.

  • Comment number 60.

    FormerScouser @ 45

    While I agree with much of your concerns, I'm sorry, but your last paragraph about other civil service pension schemes is incorrect.

    There are two main Civil Service pension schemes:

    "classic" which is the legacy final salary scheme, based on 1/80th per year of service like yours is, and

    "premium" which is an AVERAGE salary scheme based on 1/60th per year of service.

    The "premium" scheme is the only one available to staff joining the civil service and has been for about five years. Most older civil servants are on the "classic" scheme and like your Post Office colleagues are relatively lowly-paid and have to work a darned sight longer to get a decent pension.

    The popular media image of fat-cat civil servants is representative of only the tiniest fraction of 1%, and in my opinion are likely to be mostly Mr Blair's political appointees from the late 90s when he was hell-bent on politicising the civil service to suit his own ends.

  • Comment number 61.

    Surely the answer is simple: the Treasury gives back all the profits Royal Mail made in the 90's & the beginning of this decade and the black hole is plugged.

  • Comment number 62.

    Perhaps those so keen to have the Royal Mail stay as it is restrictive practices and bankrupt pension fund and all would like to put forward a business plan showing how they would do it that does not involve even more taxpayers money bailing it out.

    If the government were honest with the people they would tell us how bad a state the country is in and that we are going to have to face up to reality.

    You cannot have what the country cannot afford to give you unless you are prepared to pay more for it.

    Like the banks the whole country is in dire need of wholesale restructuring if it is to survive.

  • Comment number 63.

    There's an awful fascination about watching the Blair/Brown project collapse in such a spectacular manner.

    A bit like David Attenborough sitting at the back of a cage, watching an indestructible snake eating his film crew one by one, while still making notes about the extraordinary creature. One which, moreover, he and the crew had nutured and tolerated for a decade before it consumed the whole lot of 'em...

    Funny that Government has stated sternly that, in these troubled times, companies should put pension fund payments ahead of dividends.

    Is that the same government that happily took dividends from Royal Mail Group, while the pension fund deficit ballooned to enormous proportions? Surely not!

    The same government that kept chipping away at services that could be provided via the Post Offices? Surely not!

    Good grief, Governments don't have many actual companies to run, do they?

    If they had thrown out the daft idea that an ID card will stop fraud, terrorism, child obesity, (or whatever the latest justification is), and put a quarter of the wasted money into the Royal Mail pension fund, it would have had a bit of a chance to recover.

    If they got out of the way and hadn't kept building boundaries on what could be done by RM and Post Offices, the organisation could probably have grown properly. But that's far too simple for a meddling bunch of commercial and financial illiterates.

    Brown a while back: "You wonderful bankers are a credit to the UK, an engine of growth and a centre of innovative excellence". (Code: Thanks for generating massive corporate profit and lovely bonuses for me to tax!)

    Brown now: "You pits of the earth have created a catastrophe. How would anyone expect the Treasury, BoE or FSA to notice that you've made us into a credit-bubbled mess. So forget the bonus culture (except for the one's you legally have to pay, the ones you probably will anyway, the one's I agreed for MY banks - NR... - and of course those for the valuable ministerial advisors and senior civil servants). You are a disgrace." (Code: There goes my legacy! Who's gonna want to hire a failed Chancellor? Who's gonna pay the advance for my memoirs? How did that Blair wriggle out of it with such impeccable timing???)

    What a bunch. I can only hope their successors focus on delivering a few necessary things really well.

  • Comment number 64.

    What fun to watch!

    Everyone knows that Nationalised organisations in the end do not work! No enterprise culture, not adaptive to change and consequent mediocre performance. Everyone also knows we (those few people left who create wealth) cannot afford to subsidise public sector pensions! So are labour MP's going to cave into old fashioned Post office trade union lobbying to maintain these nonsenses?

    The sooner an election comes and this lot is thrown out the sooner we have a chance of having smaller Government, less bureaucrasy, regulation, and an environment more favourable to creating more private sector jobs. Which at the end of the day is better for the economy and therefore everyone.

    I feel personally sorry for any post office workers threatened by privatisation or a cut back in pensions but as someone who has always worked in the private sector and been through lots of change i would say sadly welcome to the 'real world!' Why should you be any different?

  • Comment number 65.

    No 64, the Labour Party is more or less bankrupt (no surprise with a prize baffoon like Dromey as Treasurer), so what do you think will happen with the postal unions start calling?
    He needs money to fight an election, you know.

  • Comment number 66.

    Why is there a " Black hole " in the pension fund ? Where did the money go ? Maybe you could ask the PM or his familiar (AD) if they know where it disappeared to. This pension scheme should now be closed to new members and replaced with a contributary scheme like the rest of us have to be content with. Government funded final salary schemes must become a thing of the past, unless the required monies are invested by the government where they can't squander it. Don't worry about the bill being voted down by Labour rebels Nick, they know which side of the bread has butter on it and will not bring down the government knowing an election will mean unemployment for most of them.

  • Comment number 67.

    As an employee of Royal Mail it is painful to see the decline of this business. I just wanted to put some facts and opinions on here:-

    The Final Salary Scheme ceased in April 2008 and any pension earned by current or new employees after that date is Defined Contributions Pension.

    Royal Mail is stuck between being a public service and a private business and is in nowhere land and this has contributed to the pensions scandal as well as the tax on pensions and the scandalous payments holiday taken by Royal Mail when the economy was in much better shape endorsed by previous governments.

    I am angry that the Royal Mail Pensions head allowed details of the parlous state of the fund to be used as a political football as she has a duty of care to the pension members first and foremost and should have advised employees first not Mandelson!

    With regards to TNT taking 30% ownership I would comment that they are in difficulties with declining mail volumes and also of note is in Germany they have a current court case in which they claim that the minimum wage is unconstitutional will they do that here?

    Lets face it management of Royal Mail has been poor for a long time and Royal Mail's position has been undermined by the EU postal laws of opening up competition, which has not occured in the rest of the EU surprise surprise and the date for this has been extended to 2013!!

    Royal Mail's hands have been tied with having to take on business mail taken by TNT and other postal firms at a substantial loss. Do you realise that Royal Mail has to deal with competitors mail, before our own work, which company would do that and at a substantial loss.

    You are being sold a big lie by the government and the EU as to the benefits of privatising or partly the Royal Mail. You can expect larger price increases and before long universal service as it is will be reduced and the public will pay different prices for postage within the UK. Look at previous privatisations did the prices reduce of increase?

    TNT are in it to make money pure and simple and if they take 30% of Royal Mail would that not be a conflict of interest and a breach of competition rules as they would have a say in what Royal Mail does which would directly affect other competitors?

    I am not against private companies but Royal Mail has been around for a long time and the universal service is hanging by a thread people wake up to this as if this ceases the postal costs for the man on the street and companies will significantly rise just look at europe postal costs now ask yourself would you prefer to pay 37p for first class stamp or substantially more?

  • Comment number 68.

    The Governments role in Royal Mail is not unlike a scam that might have occured in horse racing in the bad old days. You are a trainer with a great winning horse. You see an opportunity to personally profit from the situation.
    so you set about knobbling the horse's chances enabling you to sell a share to a friend at a knock down price.

    1. you hand the horse over to the most useless lad in the yard.

    2. you give the most nutritious part of its diet to the horse in the next box.

    3. you hinder its training and development at every opportunity.

    4. then you turn to the owner and say "this horse is not as good as you thought so I recommend you sell a share to this chap I know. He is a great manager and may take all the prize money and leave you with the running costs but at least the horse will start winning again."

    another advantage to this strategy is that it diverts the owners attention away from the monumental cock up you're making with his other horses.

    Who is Mr Mandelson kidding? Perhaps he thinks if the labour party can bring this country to a similar position as Royal Mail we will welcome his European management team in with open arms.

  • Comment number 69.

    Why all the fuss about Golden Brown wanting to sell of the Post Office. His predecessor President Blair did that when he changed the name to Consignia and then Royal Mail PLC (the clue is in PLC Public Limited Company).

    Blair had been selling of the Post Office for years.

    He sold the IT department, the catering department (Quadrant) the facilities department (RoMEC), the OHS department, plus I'm sure many more. There was no out cry then.

    Now because all the Government have left are the high profile departments. there is public outrage

  • Comment number 70.

    Still not sure I have heard an answer on what should be done. Some talk about possibly dropping things like ID cards (good thing) to move into RM pensions (bad thing), personally I pay enough money into civil servants pension funds (I know this is not the case with RM – but the grievance still stands), strangely they have never offered to pay money into mine.

    With the best will in the world the Royal Mail would not be the first company to suffer poor investment decisions when it came to pensions and few others get even a sniff of a bail out. It is sad and it is a poor show, but it looks increasingly likely that the money I have put into my own pension is going to give me a pretty poor pension making it almost a pointless waste of my time, I might as well spend my money having a good a time as possible hopefully pegging it before I get a chance to retire. I am not alone. What has happened to the Royal Mail is terrible but other than crowing about the cods job Brown and co have made I hear little discussion on how others think the matter should be handled.

  • Comment number 71.

    I think Gordon and Mandy started in America.

    There, I feel better now.

    Not our fault.

    They couldn't run a whelk stall.

  • Comment number 72.

    Dustin #57. Yes I've heard that said by a lot of people in the industry. My point is about the double standards where more money is thrown into the seemingly bottomless pit of the banks and a manufacturing firm is allowed to go to the wall for relative peanuts.

    LDV is actually an indictment of the failure of industrial policy in Britain over the last 30 years. It was originally the commercial vehicle arm of BL. Thatcher was determined to get BL back into the public sector ASAP so the firm was broken up into it's individual components so they could be sold quickly, this meant however that each component was too small to be a viable firm in it's own right. So the van business and Leyland Trucks was sold to DAF, things went well until DAF got into serious trouble in the last recession and went bust. The UK arm wasn't in as much trouble but while DAF was bailed out by the Dutch government, the Major government refused to help the UK business and it was broken up. Leyland Trucks and DAF were eventually bought by the U.S. firm PACCAR and until the credit crunch hit, they were doing very well for themselves. LDV has had to struggle along on a hand to mouth existence with little money for product development. They announced a tie up with Daewoo in the 1990's only for that company to collapse, they then got taken over by Deripaskaya, only for him to fall on hard times.

    Obviously an unsuccesful company deserves to fail but I really feel for the workers who face losing their jobs. LDV has been desperately unlucky over it's choice of partners and it was badly let down by short sighted government policies in the 1980's and 1990's.

  • Comment number 73.

    57. At 2:13pm on 24 Feb 2009, DustinThyme wrote:
    Slightly off topic, but as so many posters have mentioned LDV and you have a picture of a van on the blog (not LDV I note), I wonder if any posters have actually driven an LDV van recently. If so they would probably realise that they are probably not the best commercial vehicles on the market and not a good investment for the taxpayer.

    Have a look at the article again

    "In the bidding for the contract, however, the clear favourite was the then US military truck maker, Stewart & Stevenson. It had a combat-proven product which was acknowledged to be better".

    "Crucially, and here is the rub, it had teamed with UK firms, Multidrive Limited, Lex Defence, and LDV Limited in order to bid for the contract. It intended to build the trucks in Birmingham, giving the contract a high British-design and build component, using one of the LDV plants for the manufacture".

    "Furthermore, not only would this have given the British Army a high quality, British-built product, it would have presented us with an opportunity to restore military truck-building to the UK, with the prospect of future export earnings from vehicles which would have been combat-proven in Iraq and Afghanistan".

    Instead our army is now using an Austrian built vehicle(of inferior spec.) not only in Afghanistan but here too.

  • Comment number 74.

    Though I am normally in favour of markets rather than intervention, I think that privatisation has gone way, way too far - under both parties, incidentally. Royal Mail is a further example of this.

    Government is hopeless at running industrial businesses, and it was absurd that the state ever made cars or built ships, for example. Energy utilities, arguably, are businesses, not public services, so should have been privatised.

    But there is a vital difference between a business and a public service. Railways, water suppliers, prisons and so on should NEVER have been privatised, and there should certainly have been a golden share system to ensure that none of these activities EVER became foreign owned. Can you imagine the French allowing Brits to buy EDF, or Americans allowing the Chinese to buy Chevron? Both are inconceivable.

    Royal Mail is not a business, despite the efforts of its managers to make it look like one (in order to justify higher salaries and bonuses than would ever be acceptable in the public sector, methinks).

    Royal Mail is a public service, and should remain firmly in state hands. It is not a piece of family silver to be flogged off for short-term gain.

  • Comment number 75.


    1). When did Mandelson first have talks with TNT.

    2). What has Adam Crozier achieved while CEO of the Royal Mail.

    3). What % of the Royal Mail letter business is junk mail.

    4). Will the government insist that junk mail stops when privatisation occurs.

  • Comment number 76.

    Hobbehod asks why the black hole. Well, it may have something to do with the pension holiday that Royal Mail took and which lasted more than 10 years. While not the sole reason it does represent a considerable amount. 9% (Royal Mails contribution) of the total wage bill over a decade is not small beer. Maybe Nick should pose the question to Adam Crozier.

  • Comment number 77.

    RoyalMailEmployee @ 67

    If you know why the Crozier/Leighton idea of a partnership for the Royal Mail was turned down by the Government, then I'm sure that bloggers on here would love to hear the reason.

    Reading between the lines of your post, it is clear to me that, if you are typical of the Royal Mail workers, then the partnership idea would have found a natural home here.

  • Comment number 78.

    66. kaybraes:

    "Government funded final salary schemes must become a thing of the past, unless the required monies are invested by the government where they can't squander it".

    Very true. In a normal pension scheme, each contributor's money is invested to provide him or her with a pension. Government schemes are unfunded - today's pensioners are paid from today's workers' contributions. It is quite possible that those contributing now might get a nasty shock when they retire.

    This is a long-standing ponzi scheme - paying out to some people from the contributions of others. It is also an off-balance-sheet liability which is not included in public debt figures.

    Anyone tryingeither of these things in the private sector would not be in office - they'd be in prison.........

  • Comment number 79.

    Is anybody concerned about the sell-off of British utility companies (even parts of them) to foreign investors? Our manufacturing base was decimated under Thatcherism, and the story continues under New Labour! There is no British car manufacturer; some of our utility companies are foreign-owned; the electrical industry is dominated by foreign companies. I'm not preaching xenophobia - but experience tells us (Peugeot and television manufacturing are two examples) that any company or industry under foreign-ownership profits will be directed to the foreign investor, wherever that may be, and, in difficult times, the British workforce will take a lower priority when it comes to cutbacks.

  • Comment number 80.

    Privatisation (or partial privatisation) may work, but I would not trust this Government to implement it properly.

    You only need look at this trace of the FTSE:^ftse;range=my;indicator=volume;charttype=line;crosshair=on;ohlcvalues=0;logscale=off;source=undefined

    To see who has been responsible for boom and bust in the financial markets. For the second time in 12 years the FTSE is languishing well below the level it was in 1997 when this useless Government walked into Number 10 Downing Street with the sound of "things can only get better" still ringing in the ears!

    Well things are NOT better, they are much worse and getting worse still.

    Election NOW please!

  • Comment number 81.

    67. At 2:40pm on 24 Feb 2009, RoyalMailEmployee wrote:

    "Lets face it management of Royal Mail has been poor for a long time and Royal Mail's position has been undermined by the EU postal laws of opening up competition, which has not occured in the rest of the EU surprise surprise and the date for this has been extended to 2013!!

    Royal Mail's hands have been tied with having to take on business mail taken by TNT and other postal firms at a substantial loss. Do you realise that Royal Mail has to deal with competitors mail, before our own work, which company would do that and at a substantial loss.

    You are being sold a big lie by the government and the EU as to the benefits of privatising or partly the Royal Mail. You can expect larger price increases and before long universal service as it is will be reduced and the public will pay different prices for postage within the UK. Look at previous privatisations did the prices reduce of increase?"

    Absolutely agree - we need to hear from all those impacted by the EU - we should all listen and learn.

  • Comment number 82.

    The Royal Mail is owned by the government

    Therefore the pension scheme is the governments

    How can the government try to distance themselves from their part in the whole fiasco?

    Like all good pension schemes the value of its contents may rise once we pass through these bad economic times.

    There has to be a reason why the government wants to take over this vast pot of money, but who will then pay the pensions?

  • Comment number 83.

    "38. At 12:16pm on 24 Feb 2009, AnnoyedofHythe wrote:

    Pension? what's one of those.

    I have spent my entire working life so far (31 years and counting) working in private industry.

    For most of that period, I have been paying into various pension schemes most of which are now worthless thanks to company bankrupcy, collapsing stock markets and finally government taxation."

    Likewise it is too late for me, but I have advised my daughter to avoid private pensions like the plague and instead put 10% of her income a month away in an savings account that pays compound interest annually. It only takes about 50 years to mature to a reasonable amount, but a simple delivery driver who spent his entire working life doing this retired a multi-millionaire.

    It takes a long time, but when it takes off, it REALLY takes off.

  • Comment number 84.

    Beleaguered Brown faces the biggest backbench rebellion of his premiership, while Mandelson lords it up over Royal Mail privatisation.

    Yet all you can do is toe the government line with more on a carefully leaked pension fund letter designed to scandalously put the cat amongst the pigeons on the very day of a Westminster protest.

    The Royal Mail back-door privatisation has split the Party. Bulging mailbags of hate-mail await ministers and pay-roll MPs. Mandelson's Royal Mail sell-off plans have outraged postal workers and more than 120 backbench Labour MPs.

    The issue now is whether this could be Brown's downfall, as I've indicated here.

  • Comment number 85.

    Just would like to add more to my comments each duty person lost from Royal Mail the duty either ceases or is reduced to part time and this can be as low as 1 hour per week i am not joking about this. TNT will look to reduce full time working hours and replace them with part time hourly workers which is happening now albeit at a much slower rate.

    How to tun Royal Mail around is a tough question having a new Chairman on £200k per year for a two day week does not inspire confidence!!

    The public must choose between Royal Mail being a public service with universal service at its heart and a one price goes anywhere in the UK system or:-

    A privatised company which will reduce staffing substantially causing more unemployment and stress on public finances, higher increases in postage costs the reduction and elimination of the universal service.

    This current government promises that Royal Mail will never be privatised fully which is a ridiculous claim the next government in can do what they want with Royal Mail and if that means full privatisation then Lord Mandelson and Gordon 'Bankruptcy' Brown will be retired on gold plated pensions from the UK / EU and am sure they will make more money from there links and book tours!!!

    I am afraid that the current government is devoid of answers and genuine care for UK people as a whole and appears to be a government in major decline reduced to gambling future public finances on a failed gamble made by financial markets and banks.

    Royal Mail does and has changed significantly but yes more is required to be done now and in the future.

  • Comment number 86.

    As regards to the Leighton /Crozier partnership proposal in which Royal Mail employees would have owned shares in the business.

    The government rejected the idea unsure as to the reasoning as it would have given more impetus to staff to work and adapt to change as our wages would be directly affected by our performance.

    I would have agreed to shares in Royal Mail as this would definitely motivate me to be more efficient and work harder as well as get colleagues to do same, which i do.

    I would like to point out that there is an employee ghost shares scheme now that pays out dividends subject to continous profit making for 4/5 years but if this fails in the last year or any of the first years then all dividends accrued over the period of 4/5 years would be lost, not really much of a carrot for the employees.

    Oh can you ask why Royal Mail spent so much money on brand new plasma screens for all mail centres and delivery offices only to keep them on standby permanently thus wasting money buying them as well as the electricity used!!!! This type of waste of Royal Mail finances is typical!

  • Comment number 87.

    The Post Office was reported to be back in black for the first time in a long time only recently.

    It has done this by reducing the service it provides, eg reduced deliveries and closing post offices. It has matched this cost cutting exercise with significant price rises such as the forthcoming 39p stamp.
    This is a commercially run company on that evidence, whoever buys the shares will struggle to find a better strategy to make a profit. Surely all they will do it take their share of the profit whilst encouraging the same policies.

    The other issue is the inconsistent policy of the government. Failing manufacturers will not be supported despite the potential consequences.

    The Post Office is making a profit so any money placed in it should give at least some sort of return. In these tough economic times investing in a profitable company should be a government priority.

  • Comment number 88.

    Royal Mails pension troubles are partly the fall in the stockmarket revenue, partly an historical "payment holiday" that was taken a few years ago, and partly the fact it was a final salary scheme until very recently - and everyone knows how those have faired.

    LDV, sadly, doesn't deserve a "bail out" because it has been in trouble for a while, since nobody wants their vans. Interestingly, one of their big contracts was Royal Mail vans - but they don't use them anymore. I'm all for giving them a loan or something similar, but not really a bail out per se. Their rather well off russian parent should be doing more.

    I see lots of companies using the recession/credit crunch as an excuse to grab money from the treasury, but it's both the treasury and the CEOs of these companies who are to blame.

    Back to Royal Mail - the best solution is to take it in house, re-nationalize it, and keep it and the post office network as a service. Surely the Government can find some use for a facility that can reach every person in the United Kingdom and that has an unrivalled property network of shops and delivery/sorting offices in every town and city... :-)

  • Comment number 89.

    Nick, can we have a blog about what Jack Straw's trying to hide with the ministerial veto of the FOI request on the cabinet minutes for the iraq war. I mean, i think Yes Prime Minister covered release of cabinet minutes.

    Still, not wishing to be pulled up about not being on Topic, but read Pratchett's Going Postal for a good look at thr Post Office

  • Comment number 90.

    As regards to Number 88 comments local Post Offices could be merged with Job centres and thus when you become unemployed you can pick up your giro at the same place saves costs and makes savings for the public finances!!!! I think a lot of different goverment departments and council ones could be merged to save money why have different funding and buildings for job centres immigration, consumer advice, special interest groups etc when these can be housed under one roof making them more efficient and reducing costs to the public purse who can access more in one place than having to go around different buildings or phoning more than one place or online.

    Think wil become an MP join the gravy train not!!!!

  • Comment number 91.

    'Jack Straw vetoes the publication of minutes of key Cabinet meetings in the run-up to the Iraq war.'
    Well, I wasn't expecting that!

  • Comment number 92.

    the Post office pension fund is bust because Gordon Brown took away pension tax credits.

    The stock market has gone nowhere in twelve years because there have been no productivity gains in the UK in twelve years.

    The only incentive given to business in twelve yers of Blair Brown boom and bust was to get as much cheap credit as possible. Those days are over and the sad fact that nothing at all happened in all those years except wave upon wave of government spending is there for all to see.

    Gordon Brown might as well be as naked as the day he was born. Everyone can see it was all just a mountain of cheap debt; the largest Ponzi scheme in the world.

    Forget Madoff, forget Stanford financial; the biggest financial scandal of the early twentieth century will go down as Gordon Brown's cheap credit boom.

    Call an election. You are not welcome

  • Comment number 93.

    Dear Nick Robinson,

    Please accept my apologies in advance for posting to the incorrect place, but I've just read about Jack Straw vetoe-ing the release of the Iraq-meetings info, and I am shocked!

    I do not have your email, but would greatly appreciate it if you would forward my strong disapproval to Jack Straw and the government.

    Mr. Straw & Millband: Come clean, we need the truth. Also about the Ethiopian just released from Guantanemo Bay.


  • Comment number 94.

    It's about time a few of our politicians started to embrace reality, starting with Supreme Leader Brown, but ideally the man who is most likely to be at the helm next:

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 95.

    People talk about the payment holiday as contributing to the hole in the PO pension fund (and many others) However if there had not been a pension holiday, Gordon would have taken more out with his grab!

    Tony Blair destroyed the post office when he brought in competition without making bidders agree to accepting letters.

    We need an election !

  • Comment number 96.

    John @ 34

    Yes, I read Tom Bower on Branson right after reading him on Maxwell. Very interesting.
    Also read him on GB and am drawing to the end of his GB, PM which has left me very confused about the Leader's motivation other than power at any price and the people can go hang. Have you read it, and what do think?

  • Comment number 97.

    So Nick, your own comments about the WMD cabinet minutes may have been well off the mark after all.

    What is it the Government keeps telling us plebs? Nothing to hide = nothing to fear???

    It seems that they HAVE something to fear.... Perhaps an admission in cabinet that there is insufficient proof of WMD (none being a quantity that is normally considered as being insufficient) and there were people who actually had doubts about the legality and necessity of going to war when they did?

    I hope that IF the Tories win the next election (IF we get one) then they will publish this and hold their long awaited full and open and public and independent inquiry into the rush to war.

    Election NOW please!

  • Comment number 98.

    yellowbelly @ 47

    Sounds as though we have the same MP who didn't originally support her local hospital?

  • Comment number 99.

    The reason for the deficit is simple - Royal Mail did not make a single contribution towards the fund for a shameful THIRTEEN years from 1990 onward. Obviously us employees never had such an irresponsible option available to us and it is totally unjust to threaten us with reduced pensions if we, and the British public, do not accept privatisation of a company who managed to make a PROFIT of a quarter of a billion pounds in 9 months as the country was heading into recession, despite having, by far, the lowest cost for a next day delivery service than our European counterparts.

  • Comment number 100.

    @72 garethm2 and 73 Sparklet

    Yes it is sad about what happened to BMC and subsequently BL. I really don't think we can put this right by bailing out LDV (probably only for a while anyway) even if they might have been partners in a tender for supply of a prospective military vehicle.


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