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What’s the price of a first class stamp? Don’t ask the politicians

Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna at the Sheriff Centre. Picture: Nigel Sutton. Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna at the Sheriff Centre. Picture: Nigel Sutton.

Friday, August 29, 2014
8:00 AM

It’s been said all politicians should know the cost of groceries such as a loaf of bread or a pint of milk –but what about the price of a first class stamp?

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When shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna paid a visit to the UK’s first Post Office inside a church in West Hampstead last week, Heathman tagged along to put the question to the test.

Mr Umunna, a Labour MP for Streatham and considered one of the party’s brightest young hopes, toured St James Church’s new post office in Sherriff Road, run by vicar Father Andrew Cain, before sitting down with local business owners for an expert Q&A session on Wednesday last week.

Heathman was asked to stay away from the Q&A, apparently as requested by business people in attendance, but was afforded some one-on-one time with Mr Umunna afterwards.

Topics up for discussion with Labour’s business chief were manifold – the decline of the high street, business rates and the 
nationalisation of Lloyds Bank – but Heathman left his million dollar question until last.

Did Mr Umunna know the current price of a first class stamp? (He had just bought five from Father Cain’s post office).

“That’s a great question,” he said. “36p.”

Back at the office Ham&High editor Geoff Martin guessed a similar figure, at 32p.

The correct answer, however is 62p – following a 2p rise introduced by the now-privatised Royal Mail on March 31.

When asked by Heathman, Hampstead and Kilburn MP Glenda Jackson admitted she also did not know the price of a first class stamp and insisted Mr Umunna should not be expected to either.

“He should know the price of the Royal Mail shares,” she said. “The present government sold off Royal Mail and the argument was that it was a fair sale.

“But since then there has been a continuing argument about whether they sold it for less than its proper value.”

If the price of stamps is anything to go by, inflation at the post office is rising much faster than most of us had realised.

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