I know I am going to upset some of my Black cab taxi-driving friends but I smell political opportunism in the decision by Transport for London, aided and abetted by London’s Labour Mayor to withdraw Uber’s licence. Announcing the decision just before the start of the Labour Party conference gave Sadiq Khan personal media coverage and supported the Corbyn style of nanny knows best. The reason given by TFL was “Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility” in relation to reporting serious criminal offences, obtaining medical certificates and driver background checks.
Uber has also been attacked for its use of zero-hour contracts and I suspect the success of the business in attracting 40,000 drivers in London and 3½ million customers has brought its own share of opposition from the established and monopolistic black cab service. However, I am pretty sure that most black cab drivers are self-employed and, therefore, on their own zero-hours terms.
At the heart of this issue, surely, is the nature of competition. Uber has worked in a spectacular manner because it offers a slicker and cheaper service than the traditional and protected black cabs. Corbyn’s socialism would consign the competitive element to the history books for many areas of the economy including the utilities and the railways. Sadly, many electors’ memories do not stretch back to the days of a telephone company that would take six months to provide a line or trains that rarely ran on time.