After Transport for London declined to renew the operator’s licence for driver and rider matching service Uber, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth out there on the right. The Tories attempted to personalise that refusal, claiming that London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan, who had not been involved in Uber’s licence renewal application, was personally behind the decision, along with anyone else connected with the Labour Party.
There was, as Captain Blackadder might have observed, only one thing wrong with this idea - it was bollocks. TfL had made its decision for several reasons, mainly to do with Uber’s inability to play by the rules and keep its punters safe. But in Tory fairyland, rules are for the little people, and not allowed to get in the way of the entrepreneurs and their disruptive technology. Oh, and cheap prices, not that they’re cheapskates.
This was backed up by a petition - not a petition to get Uber to abide by the rules, sadly, but one supporting its wish to just carry on as if nothing had happened. The petition, as I noted earlier, was titled “GIVE LONDON A CHOICE”. It showed that Sadiq Khan was the baddy, and valiant Uber was definitely the goody. The thought that there was plenty of choice out there without Uber was not allowed to enter.
And there it might have stayed, except the Tories are now ramping up their shameless shilling for Uber. Mere online petitions were just the start: now has come a capital-wide leafletting campaign. You think I jest? Two upstanding Tories have taken to Twitter to tell the world about their part in this propagandising.
Take Dinah Glover, who claims that Black Cabs don’t have working card machines (wrong), that they won’t take people to Greenford (wrong), that there were “122 rapes by taxis and other PH drivers” (wrong), and that Uber cars are statistically safer (laughably wrong). For her, the lousy accident record, the tax avoidance, the VAT avoidance, the poverty pay of many drivers, the predatory pricing, and the increasingly poor customer service are as nothing. She is leafletting for choice. Or something.
“Off out to deliver 'Give Londoners the Choice' leaflet #Uber, providing 40,000 jobs & serving 3.5m customers” she told her followers. She was not alone. Kirsty Finlayson also asserted “Record no. leaflets delivered in #Whitechapel tonight - 'Give Londoners the Choice' 40k jobs and 3.5m customers”. She claims to be a Tory Parliamentary Candidate.
Quite apart from the “40,000 jobs and 3.5m customers” exaggeration - many of those customers are occasional ones, and Uber claim, let’s not forget, that they don’t have employees - I have a question for these august Tory supporters of alleged choice.
Why is a political party blatantly canvassing for one company? Seriously - there are other app based private hire providers in London, so why only Uber? If this were about choice, there would be no need to specify one company. When did the Tories last shill for one car manufacturer, one coach firm, one train operator, one airline? And while they’re at it, perhaps we could have an assurance that there is no quid pro quo on offer, too.
The ripe smell emanating from CCHQ needs addressing. And then it needs explaining.