The Tory government is mobilising to deliver to every household across Britain. But you won’t be getting medicines or food. You will be treated to a letter from Boris Johnson.
His message will land on 30 million doorsteps, at an anticipated cost of nearly £6 million.
Such resources should be used for delivering vitally needed supplies, not boosting the Tories.
The letter will urge the public to obey the lockdown and stay home during the coronavirus crisis.
Genuine health advice is useful. But Johnson wants to look as if he is in charge and in tune with people's concerns.
“We know things will get worse before they get better,” Johnson’s letter will read. That’s certainly true with his approach which allows non-essential production and services to continue in order to boost profits.
He will also praise NHS workers, even as he fails to deliver them the equipment they need.
And even as the Tories take the most vital action over coronavirus, they still choose methods that prioritise the market over providing a public service.
The government has given private retailer and courier Amazon a contract to deliver some coronavirus testing kits to frontline NHS staff currently in isolation.
Under the scheme, the tests will be sent out via an Amazon depot in Darlington and jointly distributed by Amazon and Royal Mail. NHS workers will then post their samples in priority post boxes, to be sent to a lab via tracked Royal Mail delivery.
The scheme shows one way that Royal Mail could be run as an “additional emergency service” as the CWU union has demanded.
Yet involving Amazon shows the Tories would rather use the crisis to give opportunities to super-rich bosses than build a public service to deal with it properly.
Earlier last week it looked as if the Tories wanted to give Amazon the contract to handle the whole operation itself.
Rather than share the workload, involving Amazon will pile more work onto Royal Mail when it should be delivering other vital needs such as food and medicine.
Amazon already dumps some of its parcels onto Royal Mail when it’s unable to deliver them itself. After taking on the work of delivering tests, that’s likely to increase.
It comes as Royal Mail is already under extra strain to deliver normal mail as workers are forced to take time off sick or to self-isolate.
The Tories plan to expand the scheme to include test labs in Britain. Amazon should not get the chance to profit.
It would be better for everyone if the tests were delivered by Royal Mail. Only it has the ability to reach every address in Britain and provide the vital services that are needed.
Yet its chief executive Rico Back wants to take it in the opposite direction, slashing jobs and turning it into a for-profit parcels company.
Royal Mail must be urgently reorganised to prioritise essential deliveries such as tests, medicines and food while also protecting workers’ safety.
It should be renationalised and run as a public service—not as a private, profit-seeking company in competition with others.