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kittenglasssmall.jpgLabour are in a total mess over post office closures. Jack Straw, for instance, campaigns to save them locally, but Public Whip reports he's strongly against being against closures when actually voting. He's not the only one, and hiding behind that double negative won't help him.

In case you're wondering what the peak of Labour hypocrisy is on this issue, I give you ... the Minister responsible for Post Office closures arguing with himself.

Darling now faces the same decision. Campaign against himself locally? I doubt it. He really sees them as loss-making businesses, owned by the Government but for some reason not ready to be privatised. 

Leave that craziness to the Liberals and just run it down instead, that's Labour's solution.

Post offices are not just a business. They're a vital public service, in the same category as hospitals or schools. They bring some money in, true, just like the NHS charges for prescriptions, but we don't complain that the NHS or the police "make a loss" each year. All Labour's problems in this area come from not understanding this simple point.

After all, where else are you supposed to go when you need to fill in some ridiculously long government form? Or post something that's too large for a letterbox? Or buy a tacky card with a kitten sitting in a cocktail glass? OK, there are alternatives for that last one.

Simon Jenkins did a good piece on this earlier in the year. Apparently the total cost of all the UK's non-profit-making post offices is £150m a year, or £2.47 a head. That's the same annual cost as the Royal family, for instance (despite the spin). 

Alternatively, the £76bn cost of replacing Trident could fund all these post offices for more than 500 years, if you don't want to see the Queen out delivering mail. 

Labour's decision not to fund and support this service is the kind of short-sighted ideological idiocy which will drive them from office. It's a political deathwish. Please don't break too much more before you jump, that's all I ask.

(disclosure: my local post office is scheduled for the chop too - thanks, Labour)

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This page was published on August 16, 2008 9:40 AM.

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