Where have all the Post Offices gone?

Former Post Office
Reading TomLicence CC BY 2.0

According to Touchstone in ‘As You Like It’, the seventh form of lie is “…the lie direct” (Act V, Scene IV): our Politicians do not often use this form – for instance, the late and unlamented Mr. Heath, when challenged whether joining ‘The Common Market’ would not entail loss of sovereignty, carefully replied that there would be no loss of essential sovereignty – as if sovereignty’s Essence, or Substance could somehow survive a myriad cuts to its ‘Accidence’. So, he introduces a quibble. He once denied having spoken of ‘the unacceptable face of Capitalism’, claiming that what he actually spoke of was ‘an unacceptable facet of Capitalism’: a recording of his speech might show if this was a lie or not. Infamously, Bill Clinton said ‘I did not have sex with that woman’, and in that and further answers was reduced to saying ‘It depends what you mean by ‘is’.’  Nick Clegg dismissed the idea of an E.U. Army as ‘a dangerous fantasy’ and pooh-poohed the proposed percentage of our legislation that originated in Brussels; well, from our point of view, an E.U. Army certainly is dangerous, possibly a fantasy, too, in that it would be, in effect, the German Army, and the extent to which our legislation has been invaded by Brussels is rarely discussed.

As well as ‘the Lie Direct’, however, there can be ‘equivocations’ (“Faith, here’s an equivocator, that could swear in both the scales against either scale; who committed treason enough for God’s sake, yet could not equivocate to heaven. O, come in, equivocator. (Porter) (Macbeth 3.2.9-12). and other ways of paltering with the Truth, and, as the good Lawyer Pontius Pilate asked, ‘What is Truth?’There can be falsity by omission (‘suppressio veri’) and analogously a disingenuousness (‘suggestio falsi’) – hence, the Witness swears to tell ‘the Truth, the whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth.’ In the matter of the closure of the majority of our Post Offices, our politicians have tended in the direction ‘suppressio veri’, like Conjurors, misdirecting our attention. If I remember correctly, Rabbi Shimei saw the Law’s requirement of truthfulness as absolute, meaning that, if your Hostess asked if you’d enjoyed your meal, you should, if that were the case, say something like, ‘No, actually it was not only tepid but insipid.’ and, if your Host asked, ‘What do you think of my Wife?’ again, honesty might require that you say, ‘She’s fat and she’s ugly, so you are well-matched.’ , whereas Hillel  allowed the ‘White Lie’- where we are ‘economcal with the actualité’ in order not to hurt others’ feelings. The Lord’s adjudication shave often seemed to Christians to be more Hillelistic, than Shimeistic.

When we came back to live in my natal town – Borough, since at least  1614 – I was astonished to see that the splendid Granite building pictured, was up for sale, its customers re-directed to the WHS several yards down the Street. What rubbed salt into this particular sore, was that a notice proclaimed the seller to be Paribas. Now like many towns, Penzance has no shortage of Estate Agents, nor are there too few in the whole Country: why was or is this sale being conducted by a French conglomerate? So I recalled how, in the North Devon village where we lived before that, when the Village Post Office & Stores was financially hanging by a thread (it closed down a little after we moved ‘down ‘ere’) and chatting to the obviously worried owners, she, the Postmistress , said what an awful company the PO had become, I pointed to the absurd plastic gauge which determined the allowable width and thickness for the several tiers of Postage, and (without any real knowledge) said, ‘I reckon it’s the E.U.. ‘ They both reacted as though the answer to a long-standing problem (‘why?’) had at long last been given} it was a ‘scales falling from eyes’ moment.

Then (‘down ‘ere’) a month or so ago, I read a letter in the Local weekly (unsurprisingly it’s ‘THE CORNISHMAN’), written by the local UKIP Secretary. Accordingly, I e-mailed him, praised his letter, said I thought it warranted far wider publication, and would he agree to let me use its info., for a notoriously far-right-extremist-racialist-KKK-type blog I watched. He agreed.

What had stung him into print, had been the local Lib-Dems’ candidate’s Cleggian protestations at the no doubt ‘Tory cuts’ to our post. Here is the substance of that letter:

The Royal Mail provided daily deliveries and collections regardless of where you lived. It worked well.  Profitable urban services off-set the more expensive rural deliveries. The Post Office network was an integral part of British life, the best and most reliable postal service in the world, and it made a profit. But the EU’s obsessive dislike of national successes such as the Royal Mail objected to this. Why ?  Because it worked ? So EU Directive 97/67/EC (Privatisation of Postal Services) introduced a clumsy inefficient EU-wide postal service completely at odds with our unique British system.  It said the Royal Mail and Post Office network had to go.  Gradually it was dismantled, all kept very quiet by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, then in Govt. Directive 97/67/EC reduced the Royal Mail's monopoly, opening all areas to privatisation.  Dutch TNT and German Deutschepost DHL quickly cherry-picked lucrative areas, leaving the less profitable parts to the Royal Mail.  Directive 2002/39/EC carved a further chunk out of Royal Mail’s business.  In less than a decade Royal Mail was losing money. But worse was to come ! British politicians did as the EU ordered.  By putting pension payments into bank accounts and stopping the sale of TV licences and car tax discs at many Post Offices, residents had to travel to larger Post Office in the nearest town.  So, not much left for the village post office to do ! Private postal companies made the Royal Mail handle post cheaper than 2nd class charges. In effect, Royal Mail and British taxpayers were subsidizing foreign competition. To hide this, the British Govt subsidised the Post Offices but incurred the wrath of the EU by frustrating its intention to destroy it.  It ordered David Miliband (then Foreign Sec.) that 2,500 Post Offices had to close. The Labour Govt jumped to attention and obeyed their EU masters.  We lost Lelant and the The Stennack Post Office in St. Ives. Lib Dem Andrew George was seen on a protest march against the closure of Alverton (Penzance) Post Office and seems to have conveniently forgotten that Lib Dem MEPs in the EU Parliament (with others) nodded these regulations through. The EU set 2009 for the full completion of internal marketing for postal services.  But it was running behind schedule so time for a few backsides to be kicked.  Is this why that sordid Coalition sold off the remaining postal services ?  David Cameron hadn’t the nerve to tell the EU to stop so postal charges reached unacceptable levels (EU directives 97/67/EC and 97/67/EC). Clegg uttered not a word that I could find ! The British people had never been asked if they wanted this and are expected to obey without question the EU Pay and Obey ideology.  We put up with unelected bureaucrats forcing restrictive rules on our once-efficient, unique Royal Mail until someone called Nigel Farage grabbed a megaphone and spilt the beans. So, Mr. George, why didn’t you tell us what was behind Post Office closures ?  Is this really the ‘club’ you so desperately want to keep locking us into ?

You and I ( together with Jane in North Devon, plus thousands over the British Isles) might have thought that, since Tom Jackson’s reign (an anti-capitalist who boosted his splendid Union Pension by running a capitalist bookshop) as Union Supremo, postal charges were unstoppably bound to rise, and postal services inevitably to dwindle, lessen and contract : this letter surely nails the despicable lie that it’s all inevitable; all the (present) Government’s fault; we need to modernise, not stay in the 19th. Century; that there is bi-partisan agreement; nothing to do with the E.U….

The plain truth is, that ever since we joined the Common Market, under Heath’s deceit, this Nation has been seen by our ‘partners’ as a soft touch, to be exploited just as much as Natives somewhere with cowrie shells or any other intrinsically worthless item might once have been in the early days of Empire.

© Jethro 2019

The Goodnight Vienna Audio file