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Wednesday 27 May 2015

Labour MP Alienates Working Class

If ever there was an opportunity for the Labour Party to turn a dispute to its advantage, it came as London’s occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson was exposed by London’s black cab drivers as spineless and ineffectual over his failure - and that of Transport for London (TfL) - to take action - any action - over the behaviour of driver and rider matching service Uber. Last week’s Mayor’s Question Time (MQT) did not go well.
As Adam Bienkov has told, “Johnson previously had a lot of support among London taxi drivers, even enlisting some to distribute 'Back Boris' receipts during his first mayoral campaign. However he was left visibly shaken today as received shouts of ‘clown’ and ‘joke’ from the assembled cabbies with one shouting ‘I voted for you once, I must have been on drugs,’ while another shouted ‘You want to be PM? You're a joke’”.

So, presented with this open goal, who would like to guide the ball in for Labour? Sadly, when the inevitable black cab protest came yesterday, any chance the party had of making common cause with all those cabbies who have had to do The Knowledge in order to secure a licence, and buy a cab that meets London’s exacting specification, who are battling against all the Ron Hopefuls with their Prius and satnav, was squandered.
And the clown who was all too ready to squander any residual goodwill Labour may have had was the usually sensible MP for Dudley North, Ian Austin. One finely crafted Tweet was all it took: “Taken 2.5 hours to get from Victoria to Westminster thanks to black cabs demo. How do I sign up for @Uber so I never have to use one again?” It’s two stops on the District or Circle Line, or a 15 minute walk. What was he doing?

Well, Austin was doing something yet more indulgent: he was driving into the Commons from his constituency. Yes, with a direct fast train service from a nearby station (Sandwell and Dudley), or yet more frequent ones from Birmingham’s New Street and Moor Street stations, a Labour MP came over all selfish and drove. His lack of appreciation of the unequal struggle cabbies face was bad. That just made it worse.
London’s cabbies should be a natural Labour constituency. They are what would be historically called artisan working class - self-employed, highly skilled, of relatively modest means and aspirations - and to wrest them back from the Tories should have been easy, especially after Bozza and TfL so lamely let them down, letting the number of minicabs just spiral out of control and prevaricating over Uber.

Now, the capital’s Labour MPs, and the next party leader, are going to have Austin’s gaffe thrown at them whenever the subject comes up. Worse, they’ll probably get his Twitter endorsement of the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines - someone dedicated to making sure Labour does not get back into power any time soon - thrown as well. Someone needs to take Ian Austin aside and remind him what party is is suppose to be representing.

And to remind him that those cabbies are not facing free and fair competition.

1 comment:

AndyC said...

If he's MP for Sandwell and Dudley, a Midlands constituency, what was he doing in Victoria in the first place? If he was driving from his London gaff, in that location, he bloody well should have taken the tube.