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Monday, May 12, 2008

Another own goal from Labour

As if things could not get any worse for Labour, Peter Hain went onto the Politics Show yesterday to defend the Prime Minister. He told viewers that Wales Labour were not listening to voters and that they needed to change the way they campaign:

He criticised some in the Welsh party for blaming their council election losses on problems at a UK level.

He admitted the 10p tax issue had been "toxic", but said his party was not keeping pace with the "incredibly fast" rate of change across Wales.

The Neath MP said Welsh Labour would continue to suffer defeats unless it became the "party of aspiration".

Far more damaging for Labour however is the revelation that the current round of Post Office closures may not be enough to satisfy the Government. The Western Mail reports that a government minister has maintained that post office closures were necessary because the network continued to lose half-a-million-pounds every day:

Business Minister Pat McFadden said the speed and scale of technological development in the UK were centrally connected to the changes facing the post office network.

Mr McFadden will tell the annual conference of the National Federation of Subpostmasters that all companies and service providers had to adapt to change in an age when people could pay bills, compare prices and bank on-line.

The government has come under heavy criticism for sanctioning 2,500 post office closures and the federation warned over the weekend that another 3,000 branches could close if ministers did not renew a contract for post offices to handle State pensions and benefit payments.

The federation said one-in-four branches which will be left after the current closure programme is completed at the end of the year could shut if the Post Office loses the contract to run the new card account.

The current card account, used by around four million people every week to access pensions and benefits will be replaced next year.

Research for the federation showed that card account transactions accounted for around 12 per cent of subpostmasters' pay.

At this rate Labour's already low opinion poll ratings will plummet still further.
The official line has been that a replacement for the PO card account was under active consideration. Has this been quietly buried?

In addition to pensions, child & working tax credits are paid into card accounts for those people who can't (or won't) open accounts with high street banks.
Frank H Little
I haven't been inside a Post Office for a long while.

The last time I went in one, it was such a long winded exercise. It took over twenty minutes! I waited for ages, I couldn't get the answers I wanted, and I was just left none the wiser.

A bit like a Peter Hain interview.
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