The newly-privatised Royal Mail Group is to pay homage to greatest privatiser of them all with a special Margaret Thatcher postage stamp. The Express reports that the October stamp set will feature four Conservative, two Labour and two Whig prime ministers. The group has also avoided controversy (and Tony Blair) by rejecting any leaders still living.
Thatcher, who won three general elections in the 1970s and 80s, is the most recent Prime Minister to be honoured. She passed away last year.
Baroness Thatcher was known for her fearless approach to the privatisation of British industries that had been absorbed by the Government during the war years. The Royal Mail remains one of the United Kingdom’s most stubbornly unionised industries, with this being the main stumbling block to its successful privatisation in the past. For Lady Thatcher’s stubborn refusal to kowtow to Union leaders as had Prime Ministers before her, this stamp is a timely arrival.
For 90 years, the Royal Mail has marked specific occasions and notable figures with special edition stamps. Originating as a rare deviation from the regular head-of-state design, this has evolved into a lucrative money-spinner for the Mail, with keen philatelists rushing out to buy twenty or more individual sets a year. As few of these will ever be used and posted this is as good as free money for the Royal Mail.
The British Government finally privatised Royal Mail in 2013, following decades of talk surrounding the move, with preceding governments approaching privatisation but stepping down at the brink, finding it too difficult.
The privatisation itself remains controversial in the UK, due to looming strike action by unionised postal workers the share prices at time of floatation were depressed and some have criticised the government for selling the Mail off ‘cheap’.
The £14billion a year market for post and parcel delivery has been undergoing significant change over the past decade, with the digitisation of some traditional revenue streams such as the delivery of bills, and a renaissance of mail-order parcel business thanks to the likes of Amazon and ebay.
The liberalisation of the post market in the United Kingdom has also hit the Royal Mail hard, with competitors such as DPD and TNT creaming off much of the lucrative inner-city market that was originally a monopoly for the Government-owned mail service.