31/03/2014 The Papers


31/03/2014

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England, beaten by the Netherlands in their last match of the World

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Twenty20 in Sportsday after the Papers.

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Hello, and welcome to our look ahead to what the the papers will be

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bringing us tomorrow. With me are Tim Collins, political chairman at

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Bell Pottinger and Paul Johnson, deputy editor of the Guardian. The

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Independent looks at the sale of Royal Mail. It says the Government

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and taxpayers appear to have been fleeced by sophisticated City

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investors who made a quick profit on the flotation. The FT says

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regulators are intensifying their investigation into alleged

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foreign`exchange manipulation by banks. The Metro says the advice to

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eat five portions of fruit and vegetables every day should be

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doubled. It's the same story on the Telegraph, it says ten portions a

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day could significantly reduce the chance of premature death. Lucky

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Express readers only need to eat seven portions, the paper says. The

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Guardian says doctors are concerned a major disease outbreak could kill

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thousands because hospitals can't test life`saving drugs quickly

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enough. The Daily Mail says the Police Federation paid a PR company

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for advice on using guerilla tactics in a campaign against government

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banisters. The daily miller is reporting complaints from doctors

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that changes to the NHS has risked the health of cancer patients. ``

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the Daily Mirror. We will start with your paper, Britain and prepared for

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an outbreak of infectious disease. `` unprepared. I am glad you picked

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this one out first! This is a protracted procedure, medical

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research, you have to get grants, ethical approval, you have to find

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hospitals and staff, patients, equipment, you have got to sign

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legal agreements to protect everybody in that sense. That can

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take more than a year. With things like bird flu, pandemic influenza,

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that can have come and gone within eight weeks. The doctors wanting to

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test patients micro, the patients will have survived all be dead. So

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this is a story from the new man who has come in as director of the

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welcome `` Wellcome Trust. You have got to test these drugs properly,

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surely, you don't want something going wrong, surely that is the

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response of many people. It is a hallelujah moment for the Guardian

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to lead with a story saying there is too much form filling and red tape.

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How marvellous, a paper which has never previously criticised a

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bureaucratic procedure! But I think this is genuinely a very good story,

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because it is inviting people to realise that there is a cost for

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bureaucracy and form filling, sometimes it is just slowing down

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business, but in the NHS it is costing lives. Lord Saatchi tried to

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introduce a private members bill in the House of Lords a while ago the

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back of the terrible experience his wife had when she was dying of

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cancer, which would have made it much easier for people to test

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experimental procedures, because the problem there as in this case in the

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Guardian is there is such a risk averse culture, such a fear of being

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sued, such a requirement to fill out forms, that they will go for the

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traditional procedure even if it doesn't work, and they will have to

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go with a new treatment through so many hoops that even though it may

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save a life, you would not administer it because of the fear of

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the consequences if it does not work 100% of the time. We have to learn

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that in hospitals now were tested. They did not all work the first

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time, but if they had not been tried out, a lot more people would have

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died. Do you see this as the beginning of a concerted effort to

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cut red tape involved, not just in this but other areas? Whether it is

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red tape or not, I have not found that phrase in there! Doctors face

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months of form filling and administrative checks! It is

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compacting the process, so it is all set up to deal with something in

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real time. That is the only way doctors can really combat some of

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these pandemics that are predicted, some of the worst threats we face.

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Sure, let's move on to the Financial Times, Tim, what is going on with

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the Better Together campaign? Another problem for them, Number Ten

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scotches Link on pound vote. This is extraordinary, the no campaign that

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wants people to vote to stay in the UK was apparently doing very well

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until a month or so ago, and yet now it as hit real problems. The person

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who has created those problems is Alistair Darling, who was picked to

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chair the no campaign on the basis that he was the safest of safe

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hands. But in an interview on the Today programme, he really, I think,

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got in a terrible mess. He basically said that, of course, it would be

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necessary to have a further referendum if the English and Welsh

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had to decide whether they wanted currency union with the Scots. The

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line from Downing Street, emphatic from all the parties, that is not an

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option, you cannot have a referendum on something that is not an option.

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Alex Salmond thinks all this Christmas is up, once, their

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campaign is falling apart, and this is on the back of an anonymous story

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from an anonymous minister, quoted as having said, well, of course, we

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would talk about it differently if they opted for independence. The no

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campaign is still in the lead but the lead is shrinking, and Alex

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Salmond came from behind to win Scottish Parliamentary elections. I

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would not put money against him doing it again. Is their panic in

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the Better Together campaign? I do not know if there is panic in this

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sense, but it goes back to the choreography of Danny Alexander,

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George Osborne and Ed Balls saying, vote yes to keep the pound, slightly

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endorsed by Mark Carney. We did a story on Saturday, our chief

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political correspondent spoke to a source, a minister closely involved

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in this or said, look, whatever the posturing is now, this will have to

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be dealt with later. The FT has caught up on this story... Following

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your lead! In the sense that one person, closely involved, said the

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hunt to identify the source was under way. One senior minister said

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efforts are being made to identify who they are, and when we find

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them, they'll be nailed to the nearest lamp post. That sounds like

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Scottish justice. Those people who want the United Kingdom to stay

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together, they have got to realise it could split apart very soon.

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April tomorrow, it is not far off, and it could be very serious. Perry

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series in France as well, the French Prime Minister. `` very serious. He

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has carried the camp for suffering particularly bad local election

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results. `` carried to the canon. The whole Cabinet has resigned. He

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has got a great deal of difficulty year, his population plunged to an

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all`time low, 150 towns lost by the Socialists. The Front National joke

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a lot of towns, catastrophic polling. We now read that this is a

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bold move, what do you do? It is finding a scapegoat, and low and

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behold, the scapegoat has been found in the new interior minister who,

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curiously enough, as opposed to fit a Blairite mould. I don't quite know

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what they mean by that. More centrist than the previous guy.

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Hollande is facing pressure from left and right, because the left

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wrote to him saying, you must ease up, they must raise the minimum

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wage, increase pensions and salaries of state employees. He is caught in

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a very difficult bind. The French don't seem to give their leaders

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much of a honeymoon when they get into power, and you have got to

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produce results pretty damn quickly. As you were saying, if you are

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having problems and you are the best scapegoat is the Prime Minister.

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That has been a tradition in France for a long time to sack the Prime

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Minister at the mid`term elections. When Hollande came to power, there

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was a sense that this was a new dawn for the left, not just in France but

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across the whole of Europe, that there would be a shift of the left

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to the left, people talking bout Ed Miliband, Francois Hollande, moving

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away from the Blairite model, away from free markets, being much more

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traditional left, traditionally socialist. This guy has become a

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French primers that, a classic Blairite, who wanted to take the

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word socialist out of the party. `` French Prime Minister. He wants to

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go for radical economic reforms. It seems as if the moment when the left

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was going left in France has ended within two years. He's taken a duff

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line on crime. People will remember Tony Blair came to prominence as

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Shadow Home Secretary with the phrase ` tough on crime, tough on

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the causes of crime. It seems that this guy is following the Blairite

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PlayBook of taking a left of centre party much more towards the middle

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ground. That has potentially implications for the UK too. Ed

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Miliband has, up till now, been staking out left`wing territory. Now

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will he once again follow the lead of Francois Hollande and move back

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to the centre. Tony Blair wasn't centrist, he was to the right, if

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you have a re`alignment, you're moving back to the centre? Yes, on

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the swingometer that's slightly confusing! Those who fought Tony

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Blair in the trenches and lost time and again, I promise you he was not

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in the right. He demolished the right. Some on the left would argue

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he's on the right. Maybe so. What is interesting, if Europe is not, if

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France a massive power and significant element in European

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destiny, if France does decide that having dalied with quite left`wing

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politics, it's moving back to the centre, that's an important point in

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European policy. When Mitterand came into power, he was in coalition with

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the communists, he got rid of the communists and shifted to the right.

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It happened before, that was patch the Thatcher raying an era. ``

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Reagan era. It will be very interesting. Let's

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go onto the Independent. Royal Mail float. How banks broke promises and

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raked in a fortune. Someone suggested at the time it was under

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valued. They're saying that those chickens have come host to roost.

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Different views, one, that is an utter disaster. That it was

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completely under valued. ?750 million was basically lost in paper

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terms on day one. It was floated at 330 p. It reached 600 p eight weeks

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later, can you see the book loss in terms of what the Government did.

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Other people might say well, hang on, at least about 2. 4 billion was

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raised from this. You could never be certain shares can go up as well as

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dun onned `` down and all the usual caveats. But it reads gnatily now.

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`` nasty now. If you put your house up for sale for 330,000 and sell it

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at that and then about six weeks later, somebody sell it's on for

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600,000, you're going to be pretty peeved. I would be MiF fed. You've

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be more than that. For the first and only time in my life I'm going to

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stick up for a Liberal Democrat here. I think it is worth bearing in

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mind, Royal Mail privatisation was not easy. It was not something that

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anybody could just come along and do it. Michael Heseltine tried to do

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it. Peter Mandelson tried to do it, failed. Vince Cable was able to take

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it through. And one of the factors that was very significant in the

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pricing that he had to fix was that at the time, there was a threat of a

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National Post strike which could easily have demolished the value of

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the thing. They took independent advice. The independent advice was

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that they should price it between 260 and 330 p. Vince Cable went for

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the absolute highest number, 330 p. As it turned out the markets, as

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Paul says, they can do strange things on individual days, they

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chose to go up quite a lot. If they'd gone in the other direction,

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if the sale had failed, if people had been scared off by the threat of

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strike action or the fact that successive governments had failed to

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carry this through, people wouldn't have been saying, you hadn't lost

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several hundred million pounds, you'd lost billions. But the

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loss`making bit of Royal Mail, that was take an way. It always looked

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like a good bet for anyone. That was the earlier plans too, but they

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still failed. What Vince has managed to do, belatedly, we should have

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done it 20 years ago. Your old boss should have done it. All the offices

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were privatised years before the Royal Mail and are stronger as a

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result, and competing across Europe. The Royal Mail now is run by private

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sector management who is doing a fantastic job. Going to go on and

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ovenlt I see next month, they have to appear again before the Select

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Committee that Margaret Hodge shares. They're not going to be

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looking forward to that. She's a tough one. Paul, Tim, you're back in

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an hour for another look at some of the stories behind the headlines.

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Thanks for that. Stay with us here. At the top of the hour, more on all

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the stories from the day. Now it's time for Sportsday.

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Welcome to Sportsday. Here's what's on the way: Sunderland stutter at

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home again, as relegation looms for Gus Poyet's side.

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David Moyes

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