Let battle commence. The battle for national sovereignty. The battle for rural communities. The battle for age-old features of our national life. The battle for the monarchy’s direct link to every address in the Kingdom. The battle against the essentially or entirely foreign forces of global capitalism and the EU, which are marching in with a view to destroying the Royal Mail. An EU directive requires full competition in postal services by 2012, so that the Royal Mail must deliver its competitors’ letters as if they were its own First Class ones, yet for less than the price of First Class post. This necessitates cuts, both in postmen’s pay and in Post Offices.
Meanwhile, the “free” marketeers seriously propose privatising something that has never been in the private sector, having been in what would now be called public ownership ever since it was created by Charles II in 1660, and representing the most significant direct link between the monarchy and every household, business, organisation and institution in the land. Nothing could better indicate how utterly unconservative the “free” market ideology really is. Neoliberal economics, a total disregard for our heritage and institutions, and European federalism: all of a piece, of course.
Yet even Margaret Thatcher, a fanatical if incoherent heritage-destroyer and European federalist in accordance with her barely understood economic ideology, specifically ruled out privatising the Royal Mail, “because it’s Royal”. Just for once, she was right. Not merely foreign companies, but companies actually owned by foreign states as such, are now circling our postal service.
If this is not a conservative and Tory cause, then what is? It echoes the cry of “King and People” against the Whig magnates. It even expresses loyalty to the legacy of the Royal House of Stuart. Those who believe in publicly owned public services, in strong unions, and in rural communities must unite with those, very largely the same people, who believe in national sovereignty (both as against the EU and as against the foreign acquisition of a key national asset), in the monarchy’s direct link to every address, and in rural communities. Public ownership and strong unions are in fact safeguards of national sovereignty and of the countryside, and thus of that other such safeguard, the Crown.
Together, trade unionists and paleocons gave Thatcher the only Commons defeat of her Premiership, when she tried to introduce a free-for-all in Sunday trading. Together, we can save our Post Office. Let battle commence.