After the news broke that Transport for London had taken the decision not to renew Uber’s London operating licence, the right-leaning part of the Pundit Establishment was bereft. They had assiduously promoted the driver and rider matching service for years, turning a blind eye to all the bad behaviour and that aggressive corporate culture, instead telling anyone who would listen that it was all about technology and choice.
Behold the arbiter of morals and high principles
In this regard, no-one was more enthusiastic for Uber than the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, who were more than happy to cheer for Uber at the expense, especially, of London’s black cab trade, because that meant people who were members of trades unions, which meant they were Very Bad Indeed.
So when the news broke, The Great Guido was ready with his king size onion: “Extraordinary decision. 3.5 million Londoners and 40,000 drivers use Uber, Sadiq is now going to have to explain to them why they are out of a job and out of pocket. Khan pays back the taxi unions who put him in City Hall” was the predictable outburst.
Sadiq Khan - not involved
There was more. Under the headline “Khan Chooses Union Backers Over 3.5 Million Londoners”, the Fawkes massive asserts “Faced with the choice between 3.5 million Londoners and his taxi union backers, Sadiq chose the unions. Khan promised he would not be a mayor for vested interests, well he has just hit Londoners in the pocket to please his GMB union backers who have been running the campaign against Uber”.
This is followed by including a photo of the Mayor and LTDA man Steve McNamara to suggest some kind of congratulation is being depicted - but sadly this is the usual Fawkes fraud, the photo being some months old. Still, the Fawkes rabble want readers to know “Londoners seeing first hand what a Labour mayor in hoc to the unions does for them”.
But, as Captain Blackadder might have observed, there was only one thing wrong with this idea - it was bollocks. Uber had its licence renewal declined for clearly explained reasons, none of which had anything to do with Sadiq Khan, Steve McNamara, the black cab trade in general, or any trades union. The licence refusal was down to Uber not behaving as the law, and regulations, require, as Jon Elledge has pointed out at City Metric.
“TfL is supposed to ensure the safety of taxi passengers: Uber wasn’t cooperating, so no more Uber. TfL is quite literally doing its job”. It’s not about “tech” or “choice” - TfL has a duty to its customers, in other words, to all users of public transportation systems in and around London. And it gets worse for The Great Guido.
The idea that Sadiq Khan was even tangentially involved is bunk. As Adam Bienkov of Business Insider points out, “This wasn't Sadiq's decision. Entirely a decision by TfL regulators. Mayor was not legally allowed to take part”. The Fawkes rabble has been telling its adoring readers a pack of lies. And not for the first time.
Once again, the Fawkes folks get it totally wrong. Another fine mess.