Since the sale of Royal Mail pressure on the Government has risen over the botched way the sell-off was handled. The Business Secretary Vince Cable has rigorously defended his handling of privatisation of the Royal Mail but the incompetence is there for all to see. The National Audit Office report concluded that the sale was based on an undervaluation of Royal Mail which resulted in British taxpayers losing out on £750 million. 61% of British adults believe the sale of Royal Mail was a wrong with only 22% backing the deal.
The saga has been compounded by the revelation that the coalition was more eager to ensure their mates in the city were rewarded that the British people. It was finally revealed, after intense pressure on Cable, that the Government’s preferred investors included some of the most aggressive hedge funds in the world as well as investment firms which had close links to the financial institutions paid by the Department for Business to advise them on the sale.
However none of this should come as a surprise as back in 2006 the sale of the defence research organisation QinetiQ produced similar results. The Ministry of Defence were accused by the Public Accounts Committee of pushing through the deal at the “worst possible time” which as a consequence lost the British people £90m.
QinetiQ also denied the Committee’s accusation that its managers had profited at the taxpayer’s expense but QinetiQ’s senior managers received a return of £200 for every pound they invested, while the taxpayer got £9 back for every pound they put in.
Now a leaked document has revealed that the government is moving towards the privatisation of the Land Registry, which will give private firms a say in the granting of land rights, ending any pretence of objectivity in adjudicating between conflicting interests. The government could stand to raise £1.225 billion. Professionals and unions are opposed, not only because, as with the Royal Mail before the sell-off, it is making profits, but because, as Mark Serwotka has said, it is a political move.
Two governments, 3 different parties, but results the same; the rich get richer, British people get poorer.