Four years ago, Liberal Democrat policy was to reinvigorate our postal services by selling 49% of the Royal Mail, ensuring overall control is retained by the Government and the staff, and to use some of the proceeds to invest in a modernised Post Office. Further, we would have put at least one-quarter of the Royal Mail into an employee-owned trust so Royal Mail workers become employee owners. Giving staff a stake in their employment beyond the pay-packet has been shown to improve business performance from co-operatives in this country to industrial enterprises in Germany.
I had thought that, with Vince Cable and Ed Davey in charge of business under the coalition, reorganisation was proceeding along Liberal Democrat lines, albeit rather more slowly than one would have liked. Since Ed has moved on to DEFRA and been replaced by a Conservative minister, there have been leaks that Tory thinking, that Royal Mail should be sold in a way that will raise as much cash as possible, has prevailed. The latest is in today's Independent, implying that no more than a ten per cent share handout is being considered as a sop to "the posties". The stage is set for finagling on the lines of that which enabled asset-stripping of well-known brands leaving only losses to be borne by the taxpayer.
Instead of USB as advisers, the Royal Mail should be employing John Lewis.