Politics is not everybody's cup of tea, but you have to admit it makes a big difference to our businesses and our lives.

Listening to MPs from all parties at the ACS' recent Heart of the Community seminar saying how important and undervalued independent retailers are, you could be forgiven for reacting cynically. Words are cheap, you might say, but where are the actions to back it up?

Yet within a couple of days of this excellent event, the government announced that it was going to scrap the commercial tender for the Post Office Card Account (POCA) and renew the Post Office's contract.

Ministers maintained that the decision was taken because the post office is a trusted brand in uncertain times, but we know this is just second-class spin. In reality, the change was caused by the massive trade and public outcry about the current post office closure programme. Labour MPs, already feeling votes slipping away, did not want to preside over a new round of closures.

For the independent retail trade as a whole, the POCA affair is a small victory, but an important one. It means we can go confidently into the many battles yet to be fought: on tobacco displays, employment law, test purchasing, proxy purchasing, the activities of utilities companies and so on. Now that the public has been galvanised to save our local post offices, it's only a small step to save the local shop as well.

So now is the time to throw ourselves back into the fight to make sure common sense remains on the political agenda. Because despite the temptation to be cynical about politics and politicians, the future has not yet been decided.

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