When the London Black Cab Taxi Drivers took Uber to court it was established that not only was the Uber app not the equivalent of being able to ply for random hire in the street as Black Cabs, with their unique set of more onerous regulations, were able to, but also that the app showing the fare was not the equivalent of a taximeter.
Yet now Uber has had its licence to operate in London revoked this seems to be the cue for numerous Tory MPs, including the Minister for London – a post of which I was hitherto completely unaware (London needs a Mayor AND a Minister?) – to say that this indicates that London is “not open for business”. And further to suggest that this is the fault of the Labour Mayor.
This is disingenuous. Transport for London made the decision on the basis of the facts before it. It indicates solely that London is not open for criminal business and disregard of the rules. Continuous lack of disclosure of criminal convictions is no simple mistake.
In a City whose prosperity seems to be based substantially on laundering money for the super-rich, where the modus operandi is criminal disregard for the rules, then this is clearly a change of outlook from the Boris policy that the Conservatives find difficult to support. It might, after all, be the precursor to other changes, where some other rules have to be obeyed.
The fact that there is an enormous petition to Transport for London to reinstate Uber is misdirected. It was, after all, instituted by Uber itself and is an effort to use the ‘justice of the crowd’ to overturn the due process of the law. The claim that 40,000 drivers will lose their jobs is no different to similar claims after child labour was outlawed in 1878. It is just an indication that people can be woefully misled.
The petition should, in fact, be directed to Uber itself and be asking it to comply with the law. Unless, that is, signatories to the current petition want to campaign to ride (as Uber jargon goes) with a rapist. There aren’t too many of them admittedly, but Uber have failed both to report serious criminal offences and do driver background checks. In these circumstances Transport for London would be failing in their duty if they had renewed Uber’s license.
Uber may be too big to hail but the last thing that is needed is yet another operation that is too big to fail.