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Sunday 21 October 2012

Booker Posts Another Whopper

The Telegraph’s resident Sunday fable spinner Christopher Booker is at it again today, inventing scare stories about the EU, while not telling his adoring public that his assertions can be effectively rebutted because the publication he cites as his clincher is available in summary form online, and that what he says is in it isn’t in it at all. His subject is the Royal Mail.

How the EU ruined Royal Mail” is the Booker headline, an assertion so direct that there is very little chance of misinterpretation. “When I was born in Eastbourne, East Sussex, at 6.30 in the morning of October 7, 1937, my father immediately sent off a birth announcement to The Times, which arrived in London at noon, to be published next day” he tells, and thus we get an insight into Booker World.

If I had to assign a class to my immediate family, I would call them middle class. This would, I suspect, be the verdict of a majority of those asked the same question in the UK today. Neither my parents, nor any of their sisters, brothers, in-laws, cousins or other contemporaries to my knowledge sent off a birth announcement to the Times, or any other newspapers, as their children entered the world.

So now we know just how grand the heritage of Christopher John Penrice Booker really is (he’s got 50% more Christian names than me too, but we’ll let that pass). Seriously, though, Booker is trying to suggest that if First Class Post were to end (and that is still a very big if) this would be because previous action “was forced on the government by three EU postal services directives”.

This, he tells, is set out in the Hooper Report of 2008, except it isn’t (you can see a summary of that report HERE). The only mention of the EU comes in an item suggesting that its competition rules may prevent a forced restructuring of the business. Booker’s real beef is with the effect of EU competition rules on parts of the Royal Mail business, which is merely hypocritical, rather than dishonest.

Or perhaps Booker will be telling his readers next that he is in favour of state monopolies, if only where they might fall foul of EU competition rules. All other national postal services within the EU are subject to the same rules, and had we not been in the EU, Booker would more than likely have been cheering the introduction of competition to the Royal Mail.

And on top of all that, Booker didn’t even bother doing his research, other than to take as data an opinion piece by Dominic Sandbrook in the Daily Mail. The supposed “end to First Class post” is his interpretation of a survey of Royal Mail users, which has found that 60% of them would prefer a single class of service, “less expensive than first class, but delivered in two days”.

And whether that goes ahead would be nothing to do with the EU.

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