In less than one day’s trading, Royal Mail shares rose by 38% of their original value, from 330p to 455p per share – the second-highest first-day premiumon of any privatisation offer ever –amounting to a 258 quid instant gain for all those aforementioned £750 blood profiteers. UK taxpayers meanwhile have lost out by roughly £600 million, the extra amount they would have gained had the shares been more accurately valued by the government.
Cable, his Tory masters and his fellow “meat in the room” Lib Dem minions are no doubt already busy arranging their faces into looks of incredulous shock — “golly, that’s an awful lot isn’t it? If only we’d known”. The truth is though they did know, everyone knew (not least of all City investors, who’s share allocation was 20% over-subscribed prior to Friday) because every journalist and speculator within reach of a calculator and a basic grasp of maths had been telling us so for months.
Not only has this government sold off what remains of the family silver, they didn’t even have the sentimental decency to haggle a decent price for it, odd considering their determination to squeeze as much as possible from the pockets of the poor, disabled and disenfranchised.
It remains to be seen exactly what form this newly privatised Royal Mail will take. What we can do though is speculate based on past privatisations and outsourcing. Like the train system for instance, which twenty years after floatation receives twice the government subsidy it did when publicly owned. Fares meanwhile have risen 50% in a decade, to become by far the most expensive in Western Europe, with no noticeable improvement in services.
Energy company price hikes have become almost as regular as energy company multi-million pound profit announcements. Only last week SSE unveiled an 8.2% increase in their customers’ fuel bills, prompting yet another round of trite, regurgitated industry PR mulch about “government imposed green levies” and “increased cost of raw energy”, even as, in that same week, SSE announced above inflation dividend pay-outs.
Then there’s sinister G4S, the state-within-a-state dystopian nightmare trans-national monolith that runs everything very badly but somehow keeps winning contracts to run even more things, and occasionally kills people.
Also Atos, work capability assessment company and champions of disabled rights, who see no reason why a mild case of terminal quadriplegia should disqualify anyone from a fulfilling career in Tesco shelf stacking.
So what next for Royal Mail? Like I said, we can but speculate.