LETTER: Conservative!

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The Independent Online
AS A Conservative I never fail to be amazed by how unthinkingly conservative non-Conservatives can be. Neal Ascherson would have us believe that because we have had a doorstep mail delivery for 100 years we are entitled to it for ever ("The tale of the postman, the gas man and two political philosophies", 9 April). This is in spite of the fact that, with phones and faxes (and incipiently e-mail), the post is increasingly a third-level mode of communication currently providing a useful but decreasingly essential function of delivering things like telephone bills and promotional mail.

What is so inherently virtuous about employing hundreds and thousands of people in the name of "public service" whose costs consumers (or taxpayers) have to bear to cover functions that have become obsolete? What, for example, was the point of keeping open gas showrooms so a few people could pay their gas bills in cash, which for years has been quite unnecessary and the cost of which the rest of us had to pay?

Finally, with reference to Scotland I accept that there must be certain things such as health and education which it is appropriate to finance centrally. But why should I as an inhabitant of the South-east (with my own special costs such as housing) be expected to pay for transporting computer discs by Datapost to someone who chooses to live in Barra or the Isle of Skye?

Hugh Wilson