The saga of driver and rider matching service Uber, its impact on London’s black cab trade, and the perverse championing of the app by the supposedly free-market libertarian right, has been brought back on to newsdesks around the capital and elsewhere by Transport for London (TfL) putting a series of regulation proposals, to be applicable to all taxi and private hire vehicles and drivers, out to consultation.
The proposals include many items which should not prove controversial, nor which any provider of taxi or private hire vehicles should find problematic - like ensuring all drivers have a grasp of spoken English, their vehicle is properly insured, and that TfL know who is being used to drive the public around the capital. Instead, in a predictable move, Uber’s lobbying muscle has been mobilised to leak the proposals and then play the victim.
Bring on the cheerleaders
The OTT press reaction has been magnificently exemplified by freesheet City AM, which has a front page splash headlined “TFL BOWS TO ANTI-UBER PRESSURE … Popular app could face clampdown as black cab lobby boasts of influence”. Pride of place is given to the obligatory rent-a-quote Uber spinner whining “These bureaucratic new rules will not improve your ride”, which is bullshit-speak of the highest order.
How to guarantee an accessible vehicle in London
After splashing a copy of the proposals - which, by themselves, show only that most of the content is uncontroversial - the Fawkes blog has screamed “Transport for London are launching a consultation today on proposals to kneecap Uber’s business”, before claiming the blog “understands Number 10 are furious with Boris for allowing the consultation to go ahead and are actively seeking ways of forcing him to back down”.
[UPDATE 1 October 1300 hours: the spin, verging on forthright dishonesty, has continued, with Uber fans at the Guido Fawkes blog claiming "On the pollution point, Uber is planning to go all-electric in the next few years".
No such claim has been made. The Great Guido has his trousers alight once again.
Meanwhile, Uber and its supporters are claiming that over 100,000 have signed the online petition in favour of the driver-and-rider-matching service. However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, the petition can all too easily be faked.
Not only are there many examples of fake names in circulation right now - whether Sillius Soddus or Biggus Dickus have been included is not known - but a short video showing how easy it is to fake signatures is also available.
Not a good result for all that PR expenditure, Uber people, is it?]