Are they mad? The privatised rail franchises are widely detested by passengers and several are in financial trouble and yet ministers are trying to privatise part of the Royal Mail? Has the Government learned nothing?
It's a plausible objection. But it seems to me that there's a big difference between rail and mail. Carving up British Rail in the early 1990s in the hope that a proliferation of private franchises would run the services better was a questionable free market experiment. But selling off a state postal monopoly has been tried elsewhere - and it works. Deutsche Post was privatised in 1995 and (notwithstanding its recent losses) provides a much more efficient service for its German customers than we get from the dear old Royal Mail.
To take one example, according to the recent Hooper report (page 10), Royal Mail postal workers sequence all their letters by hand before setting off on their delivery rounds. In Germany, and other European countries, this job is done by machine. I'm no ideological privatiser, but surely we could do with a delivery of that sort of efficiency over here.