MP quits aide role over mail privatisation plan

Alan Jones,Pa
Wednesday 17 December 2008 13:25 GMT

A ministerial aide quit today in protest at Government plans to partly privatise the Royal Mail.

Jim McGovern resigned from his position as Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to Business Minister Pat McFadden.

The Dundee West MP said: "I believe a PPS has to be fully supportive of proposals of the department which they serve. In this case, I do not support what looks to me like partial privatisation of the Royal Mail.

"In his statement Pat McFadden said he welcomed an expression of interest from the Dutch postal company TNT.

"For me, it simply beggars belief that we would employ the services of a company from abroad to tell the Royal Mail in this country where they are going wrong."

A number of backbench Labour MPs have attacked the Government's move to inject private capital into the Royal Mail and have pledged to fight the plan.

The Government announcement yesterday followed publication of a long-awaited report into the future of Royal Mail, which called for "radical" action to secure its future.

Shadow business secretary Alan Duncan said: "This resignation shows that no one is falling for Peter Mandelson's spin that selling off part of Royal Mail does not count as part-privatisation.

"The Hooper review confirmed that we are in danger of losing the universal postal service unless there is urgent reform, but the minister in charge of post offices can't even get his own staff to agree with his policies.

"Labour is split from top to bottom on this, and Mandelson's spin has failed to convince people on his own side."

SNP postal affairs spokesman Mike Weir said: "Labour are deeply split and in serious trouble over their mishandling of our post offices and disastrous part-privatisation plans. This is the latest mess for the country and the Labour Party created by Peter Mandelson - it will not be the last.

"But Jim McGovern has missed the last post with his resignation. It would have been more creditable if Jim McGovern had taken a principled stance months ago when the post office network was being slashed, instead of carrying the bag of the minister leading the cuts.

"His late in the day resignation will do nothing to help the five post offices which are being closed in Dundee, or the hundreds being closed across the country.

"Labour's part-privatisation plans for Royal Mail are madness and Jim McGovern's resignation underlines the fear amongst Labour MPs that their jobs are on the line."

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