After the news emerged yesterday that driver and rider matching service Uber had been refused an extension to its operating licence by Brighton and Hove City Council, the media had to digest the fact that, as Zelo Street has been pointing out for some time now, what has been sold to the public and reality are two very different things. It also gave an excellent opportunity to expose the liars and fake news merchants.
And when it comes to lying and fake news, there is no more practiced combination of the two than that offered by the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, who duly posted on Uber’s misfortune. This gave a timely opportunity to point out to all those in the media who take the Fawkes “brand” as a reliable source that it is nothing of the sort. This post is aimed at those people.
Such as? Large numbers of (mainly) Tory MPs, pundits, mostly those out on the right, and broadcast media have been only too ready to bleat “but it was on Guido”. Fawkes posts get used to generate talking points. They are considered with suitable gravitas. But what The Great Guido posted about Uber in Brighton shows they should not be.
Milk, no sugar, hold the smears
Here’s why. Under the banner headline “LABOUR”, readers are told “Labour Revoke Uber’s Licence In Brighton”. The photo is captioned “Uber Faces Brighton Ban”. The post explains “The Labour administration that runs Brighton and Hove City council has revoked Uber’s licence to operate in the city. They are citing a 2016 data breach by American hackers to declare that Uber do not meet the fit and proper persons test. Uber will appeal, if they lose Brighton residents will no longer be able to use the taxi app. Socialism isn’t cool, kids”. You believed that? Here’s why you shouldn’t.
“Labour Revoke Uber’s Licence In Brighton”: NOT TRUE. Uber has not had its licence revoked. The company applied for a licence extension; the application was declined. There was no revocation. Basic factual error.
“The Labour administration that runs Brighton and Hove City council”. MISLEADING. As the BBC reported after the last local elections in the city, Labour was “now the largest party, gaining minority control with 23 seats, five short of an overall majority. The Conservatives have 20 seats while the Greens, who lost nine seats, now have 11”.
DOUBLY MISLEADING is that the refusal to grant Uber a licence (still not a revocation) was upheld - unanimously - by the council’s licensing panel. Far from being some kind of Labour stitch-up, as the Fawkes blog infers, it is made up as follows:
Jackie O’Quinn (Chair) - Labour and Co-Operative
Lizzie Deane - Green
Lynda Hyde - Conservative.
So the comment “Socialism isn’t cool, kids” is based on a FALSE PREMISE.
“They are citing a 2016 data breach by American hackers to declare that Uber do not meet the fit and proper persons test”. MISLEADING. And two things here. One, the data breach affected 57 million riders and drivers. 600,000 drivers had their licence details exposed. And worse of all, former CEO Travis Kalanick knew about it over a year before the story broke. It’s not some one-line throw-away “Oh, it happened in the USA so it’s not important” event.
And two, the Fawkes post OMITTED Uber’s “lack of commitment to use only Brighton & Hove licensed drivers in the city”. This is very important: vehicles licensed in the city have to comply with the “Blue Book” regulations, including the fitment of sealed unit CCTV. The information was freely available. The Great Guido ignored it.
“Uber will appeal, if they lose Brighton residents will no longer be able to use the taxi app”. NOT TRUE. As Councillor O’Quinn has admitted, vehicles from outside Brighton and Hove can still service pre-booked trips. The crucial difference is that those taking the trips will know that the vehicles in which they are travelling do not meet the Blue Book standards. Punters are free to choose a less safe alternative to locally licensed vehicles.
So, all you mainstream newspaper and broadcast media people out there, how does that stack up as a credible news source? It’s not as if the Fawkes post was cobbled together by an intern; it is the work of teaboy Alex “Billy Liar” Wickham, described by his boss as a “fine young journalist”, although none of that is true, either.
Wickham is effectively running the Fawkes show when Staines is not around, taking over in 2015 from the previous head gofer, the odious flannelled fool Master Harry Cole, who has now gone on to peddle highly creative copy for the Murdoch Sun.
The Guido Fawkes blog is not a credible news source. If you balk at citing New Left Media sites like Skwawkbox, The Canary, Evolve Politics, Novara Media or Another Angry Voice, then you should not even be going near The Great Guido. Full stop, end of story.