Contenders to succeed Theresa May as leader of the Conservative Party are coming thick and fast, and in the case of London’s formerly very occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfefffel Johnson, both thick and fast at once. This is quite a surprise, given the fractious state of the Parliamentary party right now, and the sheer impossibility of squaring the circle that is Brexit. Yet still they come, and today has brought more hopefuls.
It's the way I tell 'em
Yesterday it was Sajid Javid, today it’s James “Not” Cleverly. New names are coming forward all the time. Compare and contrast with 1975, when Mrs T was the only one to challenge then leader Sailor Heath. But the name that Londoners will find eye-catching is that of Bozza’s former deputy Mayor Kit Malthouse, who has already been dubbed the Uber candidate. He might also be termed another press poodle candidate.
The latter is down to his claim, back in 2012, that too many Police resources were being allocated to investigating phone hacking. Labour MP Chris Bryant “claimed the comment ‘makes it clear that from the highest political level’ London Mayor Boris Johnson and Mr Malthouse, who chairs the Metropolitan Police Authority, had ‘intentionally sought to close down the phone-hacking investigation’”. Another one for the Murdochs to consider.
Former Met Commissioner Paul Stephenson had claimed “On several occasions after Operation Weeting had started and I had returned from sick leave, the chair of the MPA, Kit Malthouse, expressed a view that we should not be devoting this level of resources to the phone-hacking inquiry as a consequence of a largely political and media-driven 'level of hysteria’ … The reality was that this was wrong but that was a fairly widely held view”.
We now know that both Malthouse and Bozza were talking out of the backs of their necks, and the idea of either being allowed anywhere near the Top Job is worrying in the extreme. Worse, Malthouse’s only recent notoriety is the infamous “Malthouse compromise” on the Brexit negotiations, which would have been incompatible with the assurances implicit in the Good Friday Agreement and associated legislation.
Not only friendly to him ...
And so we come to Malthouse’s time as Deputy Mayor for Business and Enterprise, during which the Uber meter row erupted. Here is what he said at the time: “It's a challenge for us as a city, and what the taxi drivers are doing is highlighting that. They're saying, 'You can't have it both ways - if Uber come along and operate without regulation, then we should be able to compete without regulation or they should have the same regulations.' That's a fair question which we as a city are going to have to tackle”.
Except Malthouse didn’t tackle it. He effectively dumped the responsibility on the courts, avoiding having to make a decision on whether Uber drivers were operating a metering system, which is a flagrant breach of the capital’s regulations: only black cabs are allowed to use meters. Private Hire Vehicles have to quote a fare upfront.
... but also friendly to them
The upshot is that Uber got away with using what looks like a meter, walks like a meter and quacks like a meter. And Malthouse got away with having to get off his arse and make a decision. Now he wants to lead the party which at present forms the Government.
So that’s another candidate that shouldn’t be taken seriously. You have been warned.
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