After yesterday’s decision by Transport for London not to renew the operator’s licence for driver and rider matching service Uber, the right-wing punditry has offered its entirely predictable response. The clear reasons for TfL refusing licence renewal were all but ignored, the story was framed as the personal intervention of Sadiq Khan, who took no part in the process, and the decision was held to be all about choice.
Thus the ardent free marketeers ignored the inability of Uber in London to abide by the rules, the effective servitude imposed on its drivers by having no job security, no control over rate cuts, and the constant threat of being “deactivated”, should a punter take exception to them. That there are several other transport options available to Londoners, including other app-based services, was not allowed to enter.
Typical of the sour and partisan tone was that struck by Alex Deane, another of those Clever People Who Talk Loudly In Restaurants: “Well done Sadiq. Next up, smash the spinning jenny”. It was nothing to do with Sadiq. But do go on. “A concentrated minority of determined campaigners will often overcome a diffuse majority. Millions will pay higher fares now”. Stuff the sub-minimum wage offer for the driver, eh?
But at least Deane had engaged brain first, which Spectator editor Fraser Nelson had not: “World over, approach to #Uber is a proxy for whether a gvt/city is on the side of the vested interests (the few) or consumers (the many)”. Very good Fraser - Uber IS a vested interest. And a very large one. How about blaming Khan? “Sadiq Khan declared himself anti-Uber while on the mayoral election campaign. He has been consistent”.
Blub! Sniff!! Snot fair!!! Meanwhile, Sohrab Ahmari, ex Murdoch Wall Street Journal, complained “A regular black cab to Heathrow can easily cost as much as your roundtrip flight to many European destinations. Uber was a life-saver”. But he hadn’t heard of all the other app-based offerings or existing minicab firms either. And then came the loathsome Toby Young: “Awful. Monopolists successfully stifle competition”.
Brilliant Tobes - Uber ARE monopolists. Did the Mail on Sunday’s not at all celebrated blues artiste Whinging Dan Hodges have anything useful to say? “Tories struggling for popular distinction between their vision of capitalism and Corbyn's socialism. Uber have handed them one”. Sadly, no he didn’t. How about the serially clueless Tim Montgomerie? “The Uber decision. Appalled at @SadiqKhan's attack on consumers? Sign the Petition. I just have”. Stuff safety standards and rule breaking, just think selfishness.
Isabel Oakeshott fared no better: “Stunned by Uber ban. So anti free market! Don't believe it will actually happen but if it does, suspect @SadiqKhan will come to regret it”. No, it’s Uber that is anti-free market. Was there no sense to be had from those on the right? For once, it was left to the attention seeking Julia Hartley Dooda to think before whining: “I use @Uber all the time & want to continue doing so. But they should vet drivers properly & report criminal allegations to police”. There was more to the decision, but a good start.
Uber is an aggressive corporate looking to drive its competition out of business and impose its own monopoly. Ultimately, it does not give a rat’s arse about consumers. Yet all these ostensibly sensible pundits fall for it every time. I’ll just leave that one there.