Beestonia and Soubry’s Last Post.

 “Postman Matt, Postman Matt,

Postman Matt and his black and white telly…”

From Christmas 1995 until the spring of 1997, these lines were sung at me on a regular occasion by friends in recognition of two things that defined me: my job and my lack of modern televisual equipment. Yes dear reader, once upon a time I was responsible for YOUR mail.  I was a postal worker. Which probably explains why that invite to the wedding you were meant to attend in June 1996 only arrived in January ’97. Sorry about that.

It was a terrible job in many ways: I worked the night shift, 11pm to 5am, rendering my social life more redundant than the boss of a quango that monitors quangos.  The work was relentless, the pressure always on, and the canteen would make Heston Blumenthal weep (though he’d probably then collect his tears and use it as brine for tiny hotdogs he made out of alabaster,crocodile and the concept of free-will). But what really struck me about working there, and something that definitely needs flagging up, is the pride, the solidarity and the professionalism of the workers. Postmen realised they were part of an important service, rather than a faceless company, and were proud that we have a postal service that is efficient, well-loved and value for money. They also took justified pride in the effective unionisation of the staff: the CWU was certainly Bolshy at times, but always alert to danger. When I eventually left due to non-renewal of contract, they rushed to support me and challenge the decision. However, I’d sold all my possessions (including the aforementioned telly) and bought a one-way ticket to Spain, so demurred, but was massively grateful.

Coincidentally, I bumped into an ex-colleague tonight, heading home after a shift at the sorting office. Its in Beeston, down in the Rylands. You’ve probably picked a parcel up from there recently. It’s a massive hangar, full of fittings, machine, mountains of post and some of the funniest, most dedicated, lovely people you could imagine. All making sure that you get your birthday cards, Amazon purchases and  red final demands through your letter box on time. But for how long?

The Tories are itching to get their hands on one of these last scraps of public service, as its everything they hate. Its unionised, its popular, its not making money for a big company that they can assume highly-paid boardroom/ consultation positions on when they retire from politics. They sent in Britain’s Worse Boss, the terminally crap Adam Crozier, to try to run it into the ground as he very nearly did with the FA; he tried his best but then decided to smear his shitty paws all over ITV instead. They constantly tinker with worker’s rights, duties and pensions; slice off slivers to privately ran courier companies; and try and pass legislation to mean that Pat would have to sell Jess to vivisectionist’s to pay the gas bill.

So you probably know what happened next, but let me quickly get you up to speed if not. Workers at the Padge Road Sorting Office sent our all-ears MP postcards stating their opposition to any attempt to sell off, and inevitably ruin, the service. This is not just a few activists lobbying for some single issue: this were people appealing to our elected representative out of desperation: before you decide how to stand on any future vote, think of us. Soubry’s response: its too much work, innit? I kid you not. read this: .

Aside from the irony that Anna doesn’t want to spend money on stamps to respond to postmen, the real issue here is her misunderstanding of the concept of ‘representation’. When she ran for the seat, I watched her time and time again in hustings declare ‘I’ll be Broxtowes voice in Westminster, not Westminsters voice in Broxtowe’ . It seemed a pointless platitude at the time: Nick Palmer was hardly a stay-away MP during his term as MP, but now it seems like she might have been less than honest. She famously dismissed the emails and letters she recieved during the election as some sort of leftish plot to distract her from the campaign, which lost her a fair few swing voters, and then has repeatedly claimed that she wouldn’t represent various causes as she was either too busy or didn’t feel the appeal was genuine: more a campaign to distract her.

I won’t even mention the occasion, during the Bramcote Hustings, when she was asked if she was in support of a Tobin or Robin Hood Tax, and professed ‘I don’t know what you mean, what is this? Email me the details’. It’s probably sexist of me to do so.

Fair enough. She is a busy woman, I have no doubt. Palmer was an extraordinarily responsive MP; if her work ethic is less this only shows shes human. Disappointing, but realistic.

But to outright mislead to make a point, that’s bad. To lie to the House of Commons, to Parliament….thats simply unforgivable. I quote Hansard, during a Parliamentary debate on Wednesday the 27th of October, covering the second reading of the Postal Services Bill:

“In my constituency there are 700 postal workers at the Beeston Sorting Office. To my knowledge, not one of them has written to urge me not to support the Bill. Two of them came to the Commons today to ask me not to support it-two in 700.”

Just in case you think your eyes deceive you, here’s what she said in the Beeston Express, Friday 15th October, 2010:

“Returning to Parliament this week, I was met in my office by a rather shell-shocked Parliamentary Assistant bearing a pile of 300 cards from constituents urging me to oppose the proposed sell-off of the Royal Mail”

I know that in the House it’s against protocol to accuse someone of fibbing, so I shall give her the benefit of the doubt, and instead assume she has memory issues. In which case I urge her to stand down immediately and force a by-election as we deserve better. Soubry: she just doesn’t deliver.

7 thoughts on “Beestonia and Soubry’s Last Post.

  1. Excellent post (aha). I spent 20 years at a magazine printers, sending out enough stuff to be invited to tour the depots etc as we were bulk mailers. So we had a lot of dealings with Royal Mail, and I’d endorse all your comments about the people there – a brilliant lot who deserve a sight better than they’ve got.

    I note also that Ms Soubry appears from your Hansard quote to argue for the Bill by saying that she’s had no mail about it (and we’ll give her the benefit of the doubt as you carefully say and assume she just forgot) but in the Beeston Express piece she argues that she shouldn’t oppose it just because she has had mail about it. Either the weight of her mailbag is a factor or it isn’t. Or am I missing something?

  2. Kate says:

    Frothing at the mouth – and we lost Nick Palmer for this ….

    The heart bleeds for Ms Soubry and her poor hard-pressed staff, having to waste their precious time replying to the likes of postal workers @@ As for the – ahem – fibbing, we’re not in the House now so presumably are free to ask her which version of events is true, because they can’t both be.

  3. Luke says:

    What really gets me is that we have no direct compaints procedure against what is clearly either a lie to parliament or incompetance.

  4. Sam says:

    I have had a message from Anna Soubry that says that the postcards she refers to in her column were from constituents not workers, and that her speech to the House said she had heard nothing from the WORKERS (although she had but had not yet opened the letters apparently). So I suppose, in the letter of the law, she has not lied

    However, I do also know that if we refer the concerns to John Mann MP he may well take them further.

  5. Nick Palmer says:

    Just to add a point on the response that Sam received – what Miss Soubry will have had is preprinted cards from the UCW signed by constiituents, urging her to oppose privatisation. The reported explanation that she felt they might none of them be from workers is as odd as the original statement. It’s *possible* that they were sent to her by (say) random schoolchildren, but the fact that they were UCW postcards does seem to hint that the people who signed them were probably UCW members – all of whom are post office workers.

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