After yesterday's turn of the screw in 'The Times', today's 'Daily Telegraph' carries a commentary describing the Royal Mail as an 'industry'; and this sort of stupid, blinkered and ill-informed comment is precisely indicative of the problem the Royal Mail faces.
It is not an industry, but a royal monopoly. It has the protection of the Crown. Dumb bum neoliberal economists might think that it runs on precisely the same lines as a Burger King franchise; but it doesn't. It cannot be privatised, either in whole or in part, until the royal title is removed from its name, and the royal crests removed from all those red boxes. By extension, this could mean that no government ever had any legal right to deregulate the postal delivery sector in the first place, that if that is the case then any other entity which engages in domestic postal delivery services should be considered to be acting illegally in fact and in law, and that any individual, limited liability company or other entity that uses them for their own gain should be considered to be abetting lawbreaking and shunned as bandits and outlaws.
When told that a legal impediment might exist to them doing what they want and doing business in whatever way they like and with whomsoever they like, the more stupid type of libertarian will bang their fists and stamp their feet in displays of petulance which would be unbecoming in a two year old, shouting that nobody will tell them what to do. This sociopathic atomism has only to be met with the reply that they should read both more and more widely than they have done before. It's the law, a very ancient law. Get over it.
Several years ago, an attempt was made to republicanise the Royal Mail and gouge out its royal character by 'rebranding' it under the nonsense, alphabetty spaghetti jumble of letters which was 'Consignia'. The public's reaction to this was that they hated it and wanted the Royal Mail back, one of the few times in our modern history when the mood of the public has actually counted for anything. But like the good Terminators they are, the neoliberals just do not know when to stop, and have continued to chip and chisel at the structure they have not built yet seek to dominate, up to the point of using the Thatcher tactic of provoking strike action, in the full knowledge that the British Establishment's deep hatred of British people organising themselves to better their circumstances, or even just to maintain their way of life, will produce spastic, Pavlovian wolfhowls of rage from the right wing press.
The Telegraph piece reports that "(a) new chairman, Donald Brydon, was recently installed at Royal Mail. A former City fund manager, he comes with a second-to-none reputation for getting things done and extracting value." With all due respect to Mr. Brydon, the ability to 'get things done and extract value' would sit well on another type of job specification; that of pirate on the Spanish Main. It is to be hoped that Mr. Brydon is not just another slash-and-burn costcutter - he leads an organisation which has royal protection, and he wouldn't want to set the wrong type of precedent.
Let's hope that he's not a new Sir Ian McGregor, just another politically motivated and sharp-suited bootboy sent in to provoke a fight with the people and do the Establishment's dirty work for it, not just another, as Sir Ian himself put it, 'hoary old bastard who wants to win'.
And let's hope he's open to creative solutions to the current crisis. Here's a suggestion.
Domestic postal delivery services in the United Kingdom are a royal monopoly in the form of the Royal Mail. No government has any latitude to change this, and any entity performing this service other than the Royal Mail may be acting illegally. Accordingly, the only appropriate way to solve this is for all entities other than the Royal Mail which might be engaged in domestic postal deliveries to be brought within the Royal Mail fold.
That's right - nationalise them all, immediately and without compensation. Compensation is not payable to bandits and outlaws. Or pirates.