It’s a bit like Marmite. You can’t really tell who likes it or who hates it. True, on the whole, those on the Left in politics tend (though not all of them) to be haters and those on the Right tend (but certainly not all of them) to be likers.
The reason some on the Left are not haters is that they understand that it provides employment for those who would otherwise be on the dole, and they also grasp the fact that those of us who are not as rich as Islington Socialists can, while it continues to operate, if only rarely, take a cab rather than have to walk home.
The reason some on the right are not likers is that they think black taxis are part of our culture and ought to be protected from any form of competition, whatever the cost to the poor customer (like the Islington Lefty haters they despise people who are not as rich as they are). They may also have noticed that the young (Corbyn’s core voters) are particularly fond of it.
“It”, of course, is Uber. Transport for London has decided not to renew its licence. TfL has concluded that cab drivers who sign up with Uber are often dangerous sex maniacs. The safety of the public requires that all 40,000 Uber drivers should be put out of business because a handful of them has behaved badly (the fact that a very few black cab drivers have also erred is thought to be irrelevant).
The Uber haters, faced with the consternation of hundreds of thousands of Uber supporters, tell us that we are not allowed to complain because TfL was acting in a quasi- judicial capacity and must therefore be assumed to be right. No regulatory authority, they proclaim, can ever get anything wrong. There was a particularly disagreeable trade unionist on the Today programme this morning who kept screeching that TfL and Mr Khan (I didn’t until then realise that he had a say) were being “judicial”. That seemed to permit the chap to refuse to allow the Uber supporter on the programme to say anything at all (whenever he was asked a question the trade unionist shouted him down).
But, surely, whether you hate the poor and want them to have to walk home, whether you can’t abide cab drivers being self-employed, whether you think the young are deranged for using Uber, you must, unless you are extraordinarily naive, accept that the TfL decision, and Mr Khan’s vociferous support for it, was political not judicial.
Wonderfully, oh how the Uber haters (other than those on the Right) must be squirming, racial minority and women’s pressure groups have threatened legal action against TfL for breaking equality laws. TfL has victimised many thousands of cab drivers because they are not white British. And it has resolved that women should be forced to walk home at night rather than take safe cabs.
This will run and run. I don’t know who will win. Maybe the Islington Socialists with their abhorrence of the poor will be the victors. Maybe those of us who think we should all be allowed a share in national prosperity will succeed. We must just wait and see.