Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Rural Post Office Scandal

High amongst the reasons for the government wanting to drop rural post offices is that Blair's regime has not shown any skill or appetite for dealing with either the rural community, small enterprises or self employed people with minds of their own.

Cherie Blair's gang of revolutionary republicans seems far more comfortable when engaging with large and easily "spun" centralised operations - with a lot to lose if they rub the government up the wrong way. Especially those operations with strategic management that has grown up in the age of spin, and who are happy to do just about anything for a gong and maintain what in more enlightend times would have been regarded as a monopoly that was not in the public interest.

A simplistic example being that a single call to the Sir Boss of a vast retail empire can result in a "deal" that affecting some 15% of the retail budget of the UK.

It's also much simpler for HMG to do a deal with Bill Gates than encourage the UK to develop innovative IT solutions based around the world of those unnervingly titled "open systems". And so MI6 can be guaranteed a back door into any Microsoft software product.

The political reality is that those affected are probably 80% non-Labour voters, and this government has shown that it can be quite sanguine about gerrymandering with the public interest and your money. By now HMG has realised that this government's involvement with anything even faintly commercial is the kiss of death, so it just wants out of the PO problem as fast as possible.

It might even pay handsomely to be rid of it if there is good PR to be had. I can imagine Tesco thinking about doing something with the opportunity - but I suspect that even they might wonder if this a bridge too far, and if there will be a backlash for the vast Tesco presence already out there.

One thing is for sure, Alistair Darling's PO plan has not been thought through commercially, and that there are opportunities for someone who can marshall these 2500 postmasters and postmistresses in a relevant structure.

The name of today's consumer marketing game is locating and engaging demographically identifiable punters as they become ever more dispersed across an increasingly distributed media landscape. So the opportunity to reach and serve defined communities like those being served here is only likely to get more valuable.

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