New Lib Dem leader backs post office privatisation

Jim Jepps


CampbellWell now, that didn't take long did it?

The new leader of the Lib Dems chose the opening salvo of his leadership to back further privatisation in the post office, despite the fact that last year's Lib Dem conference rejected the idea.

Sir Menzies said that "Our party has always been the most intellectually innovative in British politics. We need fresh ideas and new thinking ." Fresh ideas like privatisation? Hmmm, hardly.

Speaking at the opening of the Lib Dem conference this weekend Sir Menzies used the opportunity to spearhead the proposal of selling off 49% of the Post Office. Despite this when interviewed on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Sir Menzies branded himself "a centre-left politician" showing a grasp of political theory we have come to expect from Lib Dem leaders.

He has been busy throwing around New Labour speak like 'reform' and the dreaded 'modernisation' which is now simple code for privatisation. When Sir Menzies said that "it is absolutely important that we are willing to challenge orthodoxy, yes, and, if necessary, take some risks as well" he was using a classic Blair tactic of talking 'radical' as a cover for the conservative content of his policies.

For example, he made statements about 'crusading against poverty' (rather than those politicians who say they crusade for it?) but what matters is the real policy meat - and this clear message that privatisation is good will simply be an encouragement to the two main parties that there is a consensus on private ownership of public services.

Whilst we need not worry that the Lib Dems will ever be running the country the effect of a shift towards free market policies will have an effect. Both at a council level where the privatising faction will feel encouraged at the expense of those who have fought to defend public services, and at the national level where there will be near zero resistance against the hard right majority in the House of Commons, leaving millions disenfranchised.

After this speech many will fear that this threatened overhaul of the party's policies (following the Tories, following Labour) will be an attempt to inject free market policy into the heart of the yellow peril, but there is unlikely to be any serious political debate inside of an organisation like the Lib Dems whose function is to get elected rather than fight for clear principles.

Update; Sir Menzies wins Royal Mail vote


Other Lib Dem news

The FT revealed that all may not have been cricket in the leadership contest Gambling on party leadership. But surely they can't be accusing a politician of lying can they?


In Sir Menzies' press release accepting his new victory he said that he wanted to see a "Britain at peace with itself at home and admired abroad" - it might have been nice to have a government admired at home and at peace abroad instead - but there you go.

And this late in...

Campbell takes Lib Dems right with lone parents work plan From the Scotsman


March 2006

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