Present: Tom Watson and UCG representatives
Those who use the Uber app to make their living need not do The Knowledge; all they need is a Prius (or similar) and satnav. Their ultimate leader, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, has shown just how interested he is in free competition: taxi services are mere “assholes”, and the dirty tricks Uber is prepared to use in order to hobble the competition are fast becoming the stuff of legend.
Absent: the bloke who should have met with UCG
Watson has written to Johnson, pointing out that he, not a Labour MP from out of town, should be the one on the case. The text of the letter I reproduce in full below.
As I’m sure you know, UCG is the fastest-growing trade organisation for black cabs in London.
They told me of their increasing frustration at the failure of Transport for London (TfL) to deal with their legitimate concerns about Uber and TfL’s role as a regulator of taxi and private hire services.
I cannot be the only worker in London who is concerned about the increasing disruption to London's transport network by taxi drivers who feel they have no choice but to demonstrate because their concerns are not being taken seriously by TfL.
I'm sure it will not have escaped your notice that two Uber executives in Paris were this week indicted on charges that range from running illegal taxi services to illicit storage of personal data.
And you will also have read reports from America that suggest a senior executive at Uber said that the company should consider hiring a team of opposition researchers to dig up dirt on its critics in the media — and specifically to spread details of the personal life of a female journalist who has criticised the company.
You are a busy man but you are the person in charge of London. I'm sure with a bit of wisdom applied to this problem, a way forward can be found.
I have asked United Cabbies Group to postpone their planned future actions.
They have considered my proposal that they do so, in return for helping them get their legitimate concerns heard by a senior politician.
Looking at this from all sides, that senior politician is you.
Please take personal charge of this issue and deal with it. If you would like me to broker talks, I'll do whatever I can to help.