Royal Mail binAll too often since 2010, the left has found itself on the back foot: protesting after fees for English students got trebled (thanks Nick!), protesting after the bedroom tax was introduced, and protesting after the most vulnerable got handed over to the unmerciful ATOS. None of the Coalition’s assaults on the poor and the public services they rely upon have yet been overturned this way, important though protest is.

The occasional win, on the other hand, like the 38 Degrees-led campaign against forestry privatisation in England, came because people took action beforehand. Half a million signatures, some useful polling, and some very vocal pressure on MPs did the job.

With that in mind, surely Royal Mail privatisation must be the next target?

Who, outside this neoliberal coalition, thinks Royal Mail would be better off in private hands? It’s a profitable business, which either reduces taxes/borrowing or allows Ministers to spend more, depending on taste. The competition to which it’s exposed would be ramped up, jeopardising the universal service.

We should be bringing key public assets (starting with the rail network) back into public ownership, not repeating the mistakes of the 1980s and 1990s. As John Harris says, at a Westminster level “we are largely being ruled by people who seem to think that modern government should amount to a school play about the Thatcher years”.

So what kind of action can be taken? The CWU have set up a campaign called Save Our Royal Mail, and I would advise you to sign the petition here. I don’t want to hear about how this will be fine if only we vote Yes in 2014: by then the damage would be done.

But petitions are unlikely to be enough. The CWU will also ballot for industrial action at the end of this month (Green motion in support of that ballot), and everyone who cares about the future of public services in this country, whatever its borders, should support strike action if their members back it. The unions will have a key role to play in defending their workplace and our vital service.

What else can be done? Personally I like the idea of using any Freepost addresses for the Tory Party or their hypocritical Lib Dem sidekicks. Notable Tory blogger Iain Dale supported a Labour campaign that made First Capital Connect pay to be complained about in this way, back in 2008. Roads protesters used to send the companies destroying their environment breeze blocks at their expense. Wouldn’t it be entirely appropriate if Tory or Lib Dem MPs got sent weighty but unthreatening objects to their Freepost addresses, along with mock P45 letters they will have paid to receive, letters which explain why they should think again on this?