Corbynistas fail to practise what they preach

TFL’s decision not to renew Uber’s licence in the capital has gone down like a cup of cold sick with many Londoners – including a good chunk of the 40,000 drivers who will soon be out of work. However, over at Labour conference in Brighton, the decision has proved very popular. It’s been praised at the fringe events, by Labour politicians and just today Tim Roache –  the General Secretary of GMB – has spoken at conference where he called on all Labour members to boycott the taxi firm. Alas Mr S thinks his words may have fallen on deaf ears. So far, several conference attendees trying to get an Uber to or

Jeremy Corbyn’s Uber memory lapse

The Uber ban presents something of a dilemma for the Labour party. The decision by Transport for London not to renew the taxi company’s licence has angered the party’s young voters. Yet Labour politicians are inclined to side with the unions rather than those affected by the ban. But when Jeremy Corbyn was put on the spot on the Andrew Marr show today about whether he has ever used an Uber, he found the perfect way of dodging the question: AM: Have you ever taken an Uber? JC: ….I don’t think so. AM: You don’t think so? JC: I’m not sure but I don’t think so If Jeremy ever does

The new test for true Corbynistas: do you support the Uber ban?

Forget power to the people, today it’s power to black cab drivers! Transport for London has announced that Uber will not be issued a new private hire licence, with London mayor Sadiq Khan ‘welcoming’ the decision. This means no more Uber in London – though the decision will be challenged in the courts. So, as 40,000 drivers worry about their income and 3.5 million Uber customers consider the effect on both their finances and travel plans, take heart that true socialists will at least be happy. Earlier this year, Labour’s Rebecca Long-Bailey said using Uber isn’t morally acceptable – and today Paul Mason has crowned the decision a ‘brilliant victory’ for the Labour movement: Brilliant

Ross Clark

Sadiq Khan has kowtowed to the protectionists over Uber

Let’s face it, the decision today by TfL not to renew Uber’s licence to operate in London has not come about ultimately as a result of genuine concerns over passenger safety. It is a protectionist move to promote the business interests of London’s black cab drivers and to satisfy the unions and other left-wing activists who have latched onto Uber as a cause célèbre in their efforts to stamp out flexible ways of working. I don’t know much of what goes on the back rooms of Labour party HQ but it is fascinating that the decision has come to be made on the same day that it was announced that

Stephen Daisley

The Uber ban is a pitiful howl against a changing economy

Eight days. That’s how long you have left to enjoy Uber if you live in the capital. Transport for London, a body that should really replace ‘for’ with ‘against’, says it will not renew Uber’s operating licence when it expires on September 30.  It’s a victory for the cabbie lobby, which cannot match the private hire app on price or convenience. How much easier to hector government into shutting down the competition. It’s a win, too, for fans of over-regulation, who have been out to get Uber for some time now. They are aficionados of rigidity and Uber was frustratingly fluid, its business model less susceptible to the impositions dreamed

Without Uber, London will be a more dangerous city for women

Transport for London has decided it knows what will keep me safe better than I do. The transport regulator has today refused to reissue Uber’s private hire licence, on the basis of ‘public safety and security implications’. Let me tell you about security implications as a woman in London. If I come out of a club or bar in the middle of the night, I do not want to be hanging around alone on the pavement for half an hour while my minicab fails to materialise, engaged in a frustrating negotiation with the operator about where exactly my driver is. I don’t want to trawl the streets in the hope

What the papers say: the hard left’s hatred of Uber is an excuse

The likes of Uber and Deliveroo are shaking up the jobs market in such a way that one of Theresa May’s first acts as Prime Minister was to commission a report into the future of work. Yesterday, as the PM opted for a much-needed relaunch, that report came out. The likes of Rebecca Long-Bailey, the Labour frontbencher, made their minds up quickly: the report was a missed chance and we shouldn’t use companies like Uber until they clean up their act. Here’s what the papers had to say: We should feel ‘lucky’, says the Sun sarcastically, that ‘Labour’s preachy politicians’ are leading us on the path ’towards the high moral ground of

Shadow business minister admits to using ‘morally wrong’ Uber

Oh dear. This morning, Rebecca Long-Bailey risked alienating the three million people who use the Uber taxi app, when she said that it was ‘morally unacceptable’ to do so. While the shadow business secretary cited concerns with the gig economy as her reason for doing so, it seems not everyone in her team agrees. Somewhat embarrassingly, Long-Bailey’s shadow business minister Chi Onwurah has just appeared on All Out Politics on Sky News, where she revealed that she was a user of Uber – and, actually, thought there were plenty of positives to the taxi app which allows drivers to choose when and how they work: CO: These services bring real benefits to


Rebecca Long-Bailey: Using Uber isn’t morally acceptable

Thinking of hopping into an Uber today? Think again. At least that’s the message from Labour frontbencher Rebecca Long-Bailey. The Corbynite MP – who has been widely tipped as a possible successor one day to Jezza – said she doesn’t use Uber because she doesn’t think it’s ‘morally acceptable’ to do so. Here’s what she told Nick Robinson this morning: I don’t personally use Uber because I don’t feel that it is morally acceptable but that’s not to say that they can’t reform their practices. Rebecca Long-Bailey says she doesn’t use Uber because she thinks it is “not morally acceptable” #r4today pic.twitter.com/NI2NnhBgH8 — BBC Radio 4 Today (@BBCr4today) July 11, 2017

Does Emmanuel Macron represent the ‘Uber-isation’ of politics?

A French friend tells me that Emmanuel Macron represents the ‘Uber-isation’ of politics. I suppose that makes Le Pen the spokesman for the black cab interest. I want to live in a country which manages a modus vivendi between these two schools of thought. If life is all Uber, it will be freer and cheaper, but also more ignorant and grotty. If life is all black cabs, prices will be too high and cabbies will revert to the surlier service they used to give in the 20th century. Perhaps such peaceful coexistence is an impossible dream. This is an extract from Charles Moore’s Notes, which appears in this week’s Spectator

Make way for Ubercare

There is much to be faulted in Uber, which has branched out from delivering people into delivering meals, under the unappetising name UberEats. But even I, someone who can rarely bring herself to write the word ‘sharing’, as in economy, without inverted commas, am prepared to give credit where credit is due. Uber has made private door-to-door transport accessible to far more people than before. It has thus done a lot of people a favour and hugely expanded the market, harnessing new technology to do so. It has provided jobs for people who did not have them, or who prefer to work in the semi-autonomous Uber way. It’s made me,

Rides without romance

You know the old designation NSIT — Not Safe in Taxis? Well, we need a new one: TSIU — Too Safe in Ubers. I don’t want to get into the rights and wrongs of Uber, whether the gig economy puts more money in the pocket of the taxi driver from Wembley or benefits only the San Francisco app-ocracy. I don’t have strong feelings about Ubers vs black cabs and whether the former are undercutting the latter, doing them out of their Knowledge and their livelihoods. My objections to Uber are not economic or ethical, they are romantic. Uber has killed off the back-of-the-taxi clinch. It used to be that, after

Uber has become the labour market’s scapegoat

The offensives against Uber are coming thick and fast. In October, a UK court ruled against the ride-sharing giant in favour of two drivers demanding minimum wages and vacation pay, even though Uber is a platform, not an employer. At the moment, the company is on trial in the EU, where judges are trying to determine what it actually is after European lawmakers (primarily in France) dragged it to court. And on Monday, Uber lost a case in Quebec on whether its drivers were employees or contractors.  Last week, it emerged that the fight is still raging in the US too, where Uber has just settled a lawsuit for $20

It’s time for Hammond to send a ruthless hit squad into RBS

The new series of The Missing is surely the gloomiest television of the year. But it has nothing on the endless saga of RBS, which seems to use the same disturbing time-shift device: whenever there’s a horrible new plot twist, you have to spot whether we’re in 2008, 2011 or today. The crippled bank, still 73 per cent state-owned, has lost £2.5 billion in the first three quarters of this year, having just paid out another £425 million in ‘litigation and conduct’ costs chiefly relating to mortgage-backed securities hanky-panky in the US. Since its bailout eight years ago, it has lost considerably more than the £46 billion of taxpayers’ money

The Uber ruling will change little

So the GMB and the two Uber drivers who thought they ought to receive holiday pay and be guaranteed the national living wage have won their case. An employment tribunal has ruled that Uber was wrong to classify them as self-employed as their contracts placed too much demand on them to work at particular times – a condition which indicates employment rather than self-employment. What the other 40,000 Uber drivers think of the case is not clear. On the one hand, having status as employees would offer them a guaranteed £7.20 an hour and paid holidays. On the other hand, it would mean paying higher National Insurance contributions and less flexibility

Low life | 9 June 2016

Showered and shaved and wearing a stiff new Paul Smith candy-stripe shirt, I took an Uber to the party. I love London and it was grand to be back and to be driven through the sunny streets by Yusef, one of the many new arrivals adding vibrancy, energy and diversity to our great city. Diversity is strength! Diversity is our greatest strength! (I used to believe that unity is strength, but I have lately recanted of this foolish and evil idea.) ‘Will you be voting in or out, Yusef?’ I said in a comradely manner, as one perplexed citizen to another. ‘I think stay in, sir,’ he said. ‘Better for

How your brain buys a sofa

Almost every popular commercial product owes its success to two different qualities. First, it does the job it is ostensibly designed to do pretty well. Secondly, it has some quality that you might call ‘limbic appeal’. It delights or soothes our unconscious mind in ways which defy objective measurement. Much as it delusionally believes that it runs the show, the power granted to conscious reasoning within the brain is that given to a slightly colour-blind, utilitarian man when he buys a sofa with his wife. The man may have his own preferences, but he has a minimal role in the selection, involving as it does many complex factors that defy

Fast and furious | 14 April 2016

Modern life is too fast. Everyone is always in a hurry; people skim-read and don’t take the time to eat properly; the art of conversation is dying; technology places too much stress on the human brain. This litany of familiar complaints comes, of course, from the late 19th century, as collected by the American writer and XKCD comic artist Randall Monroe in his arch cartoon ‘The Pace of Modern Life’. And here we are in the 21st, in another culture that both worships and deplores its ostensibly unprecedented speed. Today we have hookup apps and high-frequency trading, and ‘tl;dr’ (too long, didn’t read) is the all-purpose internet comment; but on

Diary – 23 March 2016

Killing time in a Heathrow first-class lounge, I notice how many men adopt an unmistakable ‘first-class lounge’ persona. They stand like maquettes in an architect’s model (feet apart, shoulders squared, defining their perimeter) and bellow into mobiles like they’re the first person ever to need ‘rather an urgent word’ with Maureen in HR. Along with this ‘manstanding’ comes the ‘manspreading’ of jackets, laptops and newspapers (FT for show; Mail for dough) over a Sargasso Sea of seats. In many ways, ‘first-class-lounge persona’ echoes ‘country-house-hotel face’ — the affectations couples embrace during weekend mini-breaks. These include: pretending to be at ease in a Grade I Palladian mansion; summoning tea with a patrician

Jenny McCartney

Feedback frenzy

I used to enjoy ‘giving feedback’ in the glory years when nobody wanted it. Now, upon completing a routine transaction, the customer is bombarded with breathless demands for response. The neurotic corporate catchphrase is ‘How was it for you?’ The world is now in feedback frenzy. Companies endlessly prod us for our views so they can brandish positive statistics at each other — or sack somebody. A new app, called Impraise, even invites workers to evaluate their own colleagues anonymously. You could spend your whole day just rating every interaction as something between poor and excellent. From Uber drivers to call-centre workers, everybody’s chasing a tick of recorded acclaim. I