TODAY is the official starting day of trading on the stock exchange in Royal Mail shares, a sell-off that has been greeted in the bourgeois press as reviving the privatisation ‘fever’ last seen in the 1980s.
According to figures released yesterday by the business secretary Vince Cable, over 700,000 applications for shares in Royal Mail have been received, making the flotation seven times oversubscribed.
Not just a fever but a veritable feeding frenzy has gripped the speculators and hedge funds – 70% of Royal Mail shares have been reserved for these institutional parasites, 10% to be given as a sop to the 150,000 postal workers, and the rest available to the small investors – with the large investment companies ordering more than £30 billion of shares.
When the doors of the trading rooms open today, these shares will rocket in price as those who have succeeded in buying shares at the knock-down price offered by the government quickly sell them on and make vast paper profits.
The small investors in particular will be keen to unload their shares as soon as possible, making a quick killing and ensuring that ownership of Royal Mail will pass swiftly into the hands of the banks and the hedge funds until they control not just 70% but the full 100% of shares and can then set about realising even greater profits through smashing up the service.
To rub salt into the wound, the money being used by the spivs and speculators who run the banks and hedge funds is coming from the vast amounts being printed by the government under quantitative easing – ‘free’ money handed to them at zero interest rates, subsidised by the taxpayer, being used to buy up a publicly owned service so they can make huge profits.
Nothing demonstrates the parasitic and completely bankrupt nature of British capitalism than this.
Royal Mail management has set out the future for a privatised postal service before this week’s flotation stating: ‘change will continue and the company will employ fewer people in the future, whoever owns it,’ while refusing to say exactly how many jobs will be cut on top of the 50,000 postal jobs already lost over the past few years.
To claim that these jobs will have to go even without privatisation is an attempt to obscure the fact that all the jobs that have been lost as a result of speed-ups and cost-cutting have been in preparation for privatisation, to ‘slim’ the service down to make it irresistible to the privateers.
In order to ensure the profits demanded by the banks and hedge funds, not just jobs but all the unprofitable parts of Royal Mail will now be axed, including the universal service obligation which ensures that, no matter where you, live letters and parcels are charged at the same rate.
Out will go deliveries to rural areas and in will come huge price increases and cuts to deliveries.
Just as with all the privatisations of the 1980s, a well-run, efficient public service will be broken up and destroyed with thousands of postal workers thrown on the scrapheap in order to provide profits for the banks and speculators.
In the 80s, British capitalism was so moribund that it could only stagger on, not through any inherent strength, but by leeching off the public sector through privatising BT, gas and electricity, and the aerospace industry, amongst others, before moving on in the 90s to sell off coal and the railways.
In 2013, the weakness and bankruptcy of the capitalist system is such that it is forced to raid the public services once again, through privatising Royal Mail and trying to sell the NHS to the health corporations.
This is a system that has lost whatever vitality it once possessed. It can only continue its miserable existence by smashing up and destroying jobs and services. It really does deserve to perish.
The time is long overdue for capitalism to be put down through the victory of the socialist revolution and be replaced by socialism, under which production will be for people’s needs and where the maxim will be ‘from each according to their ability, to each according to their need’.
Central to this strategic task is the building up of the revolutionary leadership of the WRP. It will not surrender the gains of the past as the present union leaders are doing, but will organise the socialist revolution in their defence, to maintain them and develop them further.