Podcast Ep. 93: Uber London Seeks Appeal On Whether ‘No Means No’

Travis Kalanick blurred lines

The shock decision by Transport for London not to renew Uber’s licence to prowl the city’s streets (surely offer affordable, convenient taxi services? – Ed) and Spain’s stifling of an extralegal referendum on Catalan independence from Madrid are the two topics our heroes chew over this week.

In the final segment journalist Felix Simon speaks to us about the recent German elections, which saw Angela Merkel win a deflated victory amid a rise in support for Alternative für Deutschland, a party which contains legit Nazis.

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Ed Balls’ spin doctor Alex Belardinelli is now joining taxi union’s nemesis Uber

Alex Belardinelli, May 2015 on Daily Politics

A spin doctor for former Labour shadow chancellor Ed Balls is to continue his career in public relations for that nemesis of cabbies, the taxi-hailing service Uber.

Alex Belardinelli, head of comms for Balls in his failed leadership bid and later in his tenure as shadow chancellor, announced on Twitter that he would be spinning for the pioneering taxi service, which has been upsetting the taxi drivers’ union for some years.

The move will no doubt prove further to irate cabbies that the old elite of Labour is no friend to unions, taxi drivers having stormed London’s City Hall in September in protest at mayor Boris Johnson’s lax treatment of Uber.

The taxi-hailing service has been criticised for undercutting the old guard in the British capital, and is facing regulatory action around the world over complaints about passenger safety and the working rights of its drivers – including in London.

Earlier this month the Right Dishonourable also reported that Bob Roberts, one of the trio of spin doctors that plotted former Labour leader Ed Miliband’s attacks on “predatory capitalism”, would be joining the comms department of the City of London, the seat of British finance.

Taxi drivers will no doubt hope that Belardinelli is as successful in his new berth as he was in the last – Balls having lost his Morley and Outwood seat in West Yorkshire in a moment that epitomised the tragedy of Labour’s general election night in May.

Image Credit – Alex Belardinelli, May 2015 on Daily Politics

Uber mounts fightback against alleged Transport for London regulation

Southwark Street at Night, January 2013 by Marcus Holland-Moritz

The taxi-hailing service Uber is preparing to battle against Transport for London following the leaking of alleged plans to regulate the service more strictly in the capital.

Folks at Uber have put together a petition to block regulatory changes that at the time of writing has amassed 80,000 signatures, with the concerns of the taxi-hailing app detailed as follows:

“Transport for London (TfL) will soon publish proposed new rules for apps like Uber. If adopted, they will mean an end to the Uber you know and love today. There will be a mandatory five minute wait time, even if a car is available just around the corner. You won’t even be able to see the nearest cars when you open the app.

“TfL also wants to restrict carpooling, including new services like uberPOOL. This enables people going in the same direction to share a car – cutting the cost of the trip as well as congestion on London’s streets. And the proposed rules threaten drivers’ livelihoods by forcing them to drive for just one operator.”

Details of the plans, which the Right Dishonourable has been unable to confirm, were first revealed on the Guido Fawkes blog and following mounting pressure on London mayor Boris Johnson from black cab drivers who are more heavily regulated than Uber drivers, who operate under minicab licenses.

Round the world the taxi-hailing service has faced pressure from regulators concerned about the safety of the service for passengers, as well as the rights of the drivers.

Legal battles with Uber are being seen as setting precedents for the so-called “sharing economy”, which has reduced barriers for people who want to rent out their possessions or skills to others. Other pioneering outfits include the room-renting service Airbnb.

Update: At least one person seems happy with the prospect of more regulation (and higher fares) for Uber drivers. None other than Labour’s London mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan:

Image Credit – Southwark Street at Night, January 2013 by Marcus Holland-Moritz