LETTER:Share of the vote

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The Independent Online
From Mr David Guinness

Sir: Tony Blair should tread warily over the railway sell-off. Privatisation schemes have a hidden purpose. They widen the ownership of shares and, at the following general election, confront the shareholders with a new prospect: if the Conservatives don't win, their shares will go down.

The 1992 election illustrated this. Polling day was on 9 April. On 1 April the opinion polls projected a seven-point Labour lead. The following day, the FTSE-100 dropped 54 points and 10 million private shareholders were given the unambiguous message "a Labour victory means a drop in the price of my shares". This influenced the result of the election.

No doubt buyers of railway equities will be discouraged - as in previous privatisations - from selling their shares before the election. So what will new Labour do to reassure these individuals about the value of their shares after polling day?

Yours sincerely,

David Guinness

Stroud,

Gloucestershire

2 November

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