By Martin Kelly
The Labour party has refused to commit to a reversal of the planned sell-off of the Royal Mail if winning the next UK general election.
Speaking yesterday, Labour’s shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna said the party would not implement a vote taken at its recent conference which called for a new Labour government to re-nationalise the Royal Mail.
Labour’s conference saw delegates support a motion to renationalisation the Royal Mail should the party win the 2015 general election. However reports have suggested that the Labour leadership have decided to ignore the views of its members.
The announcement by Labour follows news that the Tory/Lib Dem coalition are to rush through the sell-off allowing shares to be sold as early as next Month. The UK government has signalled its intention to sell between 40.1% and 52.2% of the profit making business.
Opponents of the sell-off have claimed that a pledge by Labour to re-nationalise after 2015 would be enough to kill the flotation off as investors would be reluctant to commit if the move faced reversal.
In Scotland, only the SNP remains fully committed to a publicly owned Royal Mail. First Minister Alex Salmond recently confirmed that if the sell-off were to go ahead then a newly independent Scotland would take the Royal Mail back into public hands.
The Scottish Government has also called on the UK government to delay the sell-off until after the independence referendum.
Commenting on plans to rush through the sell-off, SNP MP Mike Weir said:
“There needs to be a halt to this ridiculously rushed sale of such an important public asset. The SNP have called for a moratorium on the sell-off of the Royal Mail until after next year’s independence referendum – and have also pledged that if it is sold off we will return it to public ownership in an independent Scotland following a Yes vote next year.
“The rank and file delegates at the Labour party conference in Brighton called for the return of the Royal Mail to public ownership in the event of privatisation, matching the pledge that the Scottish Government made, and Labour leader Ed Miliband must now listen to his own party and make a guarantee that he would return this vital public service to public ownership in the event of privatisation.
“That pledge has already been backed by some of the leading trade union voices in Scotland, and this is Labour’s chance to match our commitment – something which could render the sell-off of the Royal Mail unviable across the whole of the UK.”