Uber – too big to hail

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.


  1. Sean Danaher -

    Indeed Peter
    Uber need to clean up their act. There is a tax issue as Richard Murphy pointed out on his TRUK Blog

  2. Marco Fante -

    I doubt that Uber is too big too fail. Given that they are massively overvalued and cash flow-challenged, fail is quite possibly what they will do.

    This author picked up on that in 2015:
    and this post makes for a good follow up read:

    I don’t think that too many have been fooled by Uber’s fake, self-generated crowd support. That’s little more than an obvious, self-evident form of astro-turfing, and anyone that uses the “open for business”cliche (which really means wide open for exploitation) should be treated with the contempt they rightly deserve.

    BTW if any Tory MP does emerge as an Uber-spruiker it might be worth checking their links to UK, Uber’s recently departed, senior vice president of communications and public policy, Rachel Whetstone (also an arch-tory and friend of David Cameron). They wouldn’t want any percepetion of corruption, undue influence or conflict of interest muddying the waters now. Would they?

    1. Peter May -

      Agreed about the company failure but with their deep capital availability it might take a while – unless of course Tfl frighten the funders!
      This website has lots more info https://www.londonreconnections.com/2017/understanding-uber-not-app/ -including how Uber started, that they currently make a considerable loss on every journey and that they almost definitely employ only 25k not 45k drivers. Oh and Google is suing them for nicking some of the self driving car technology. Where are the drivers then?

      It is fascinating how the Tories having destroyed most of British business in the 80’s are still trying to do the same – but this time with American help. (Don’t they realise they are bloody colonials?!)

      1. Marco Fante -

        Thanks for the link. The London Reconnections article is quite comprehensive and good. Now, as much as I loathe them generally, credit must be given where credit is due and the Daily Mail (of all people) did a great job of exposing Uber’s corrupt Tory links:
        This item is interesting as well:
        Re. Uber’s long-term viability I’ve written you an extensive reply on R. Murphy’s TRUK post (but he hasn’t moderated it yet) so I won’t repeat it here. In a way it actually makes a couple of the points that I have since read in the London Reconnections article (a nice affirmation). It also repeats one of the links that I shared above but that’s there for his other readers. In any case I hope you like it.

      2. Peter May -

        Look forward to it!
        And now having read it I agree with your link to Zero hedge: ” Uber burns through, not makes: $BILLIONS.” Quite why its backers continue to support it is a bit of a mystery. I wouldn’t…
        And it took Amazon about a decade I think, to make any profit. Yet Amazon taxis haven’t arrived yet and I doubt they ever will. I’d also be surprised if Amazon succeed in the UK food market. But that’s probably for another blog….

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