Yesterday’s Evening Standard had a surprise revelation for its readers: “Uber’s PR chief Rachel Whetstone adds to its woes by quitting after two years in post”. Well, it may have been a surprise to the Standard, but here on Zelo Street it was not. Nor, more to the point, was it a surprise to the Standard’s Northcliffe House neighbours at the Daily Mail, where hatchet job purveyor supreme Guy Adams was on Uber’s case once again.
The driver and rider matching service has now found itself in the crosshairs of the Mail’s legendarily foul mouthed editor at a time which will cause the Standard maximum discomfort - to the latter title’s new editor, the Rt Hon Gideon George Oliver Osborne, heir to the Seventeenth Baronet. Osborne and Young Dave, his then next door neighbour in Downing Street, are two of the main reasons for the Mail’s assault.
Paul Dacre never really warmed to Cameron and Osborne. Now that Adams has his teeth into Uber over the influence of Ms Whetstone in allegedly causing the then PM to lean on his pal, London’s formerly very occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, to go easy on Uber by backing off from subjecting the firm’s drivers to stricter regulation, it will only go downhill for Travis Kalanick and his fellow executives.
The story is well-known, and was covered by Zelo Street in June 2015 - yes, nearly two years ago. Bozza was going to get TfL to insist, as current Mayor Sadiq Khan has done, that Uber drivers should at least have a competent command of English. Uber didn’t like that one bit, which tells you all you need to know about the gulf in standards between them and black cab drivers, who have to pass The Knowledge. In English.
The Knowledge, as viewers looking in on a Channel 4 documentary yesterday evening will know, takes at least four years to conquer. No-one gets to be a London cabbie without it. Thousands of landmarks, along with street and road names, traffic restrictions and cut-throughs, must be committed to memory. The order of the theatres on Shaftesbury Avenue must be memorised correctly - all other tourist destinations likewise.
Now, the Mail is bringing the influence of the “Chumocracy” - Cameron, Osborne, Ms Whetstone and her husband Steve Hilton (Dave’s former guru) - to a far wider audience. The article’s headline, “£1m-a-year Rachel, favours to Uber from No10 and the growing smell of scandal”, tells you all you need to know. And there is more.
A Daily Mail Comment ominously tells “As an inquiry is launched into No 10’s failure to disclose crucial emails, this paper hopes light will be thrown on the workings of the chumocracy at the heart of the former prime minister’s administration”, before taking the biscuit with “Indeed, the Mail has led the way in exposing how Downing Street leaned on Boris Johnson, then London Mayor, to drop his plans for regulating Uber”.
Ho ho ho. Better late than never, say I. While the Mail is at it, they could look into the claims that Uber was bribing journalists in order to secure favourable copy. Steve McNamara of the LTDA made the suggestion on Newsnight, there was much talk of defamation suits, but nothing materialised. Just a thought for Guy Adams.
Once the Mail goes for you and all that … there will be much more on this story later.