Unless you've either been stuck on a desert island somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean or been confined to a monastery and had no contact with the outside world, you cannot seem to escape the issues surrounding Uber and its Governmental links, or "chumocracy" as it has been termed by some media outlets. These links have had a major impact on both the taxi and the private hire industry, unfortunately to both industries detriment.
We could write about and discuss Uber ad-nauseum (and usually do), however in this instance Uber are not to blame for a rather awkward and uncomfortable situation that may be brewing surrounding this current Government.
Since Mayor Khan and Transport for London announced that they would not be renewing Uber's license to operate in London, the Government have been highly vocal in their condemnation of TfLs actions. This condemnation has come from the very seat of power, that being Theresa May, a sitting Prime Minister during an interview at the start of the Conservative party conference filtering down to Andrew Boff a member of the GLA board and many Conservative MPs in between. A petition has been initiated by Greg Hands MP and taken up by the Conservative party to try to force Mayor Khan and Transport for London to reverse their decision. A decision that has been made fully within the boundaries of TfLs remit and within the boundaries of the law. This however begs the question, are the Government right to intervene?
Under any normal circumstances the Government should be fully entitled to be critical of any given action both for or against any company in any industry and would also be fully entitled to lobby for reversals or changes to any given decision made by a regulatory body. There is however a major issue here surrounding the Government's actions in relation to Uber, there are now not one, but two active and high profile court cases surrounding Uber, one being the employment tribunal case and the other being Uber's appeal against TfL not renewing their license.
Now, disregarding the rights and wrongs of Ubers operating model and whether or not they have been acting either legally or illegally, does the Government have the right to put pressure upon a regulator to reverse a legislative decision, regardless of the reasons as to why? The laws within the UK are here for a reason, as a nation we do not agree with, or even understand every law on the statute books.....yet we still have to abide by them all the same, and rightly so. Changes in legislation must go through due process and then upon receiving parliamentary ascent be applied to the statute books, this is called democracy. A sitting political party petitioning to allow a company to bend or possibly commit a potential breach of any current legislation seems highly irregular.
Could the Governments actions influence the two cases currently running involving Uber? What happens in any courtroom regarding any case or appeal must be seen as completely impartial, the moment impartiality is brought into question in a courtroom it then dilutes our constitution......It could bring into question as to the fairness of the legal system.
The Government has every right to protest against the Mayor and TfLs actions, but surely the right and proper way to do it would be to await the outcome of the two court cases, and then, if necessary lobby to change the law so as to prevent questions being asked, this would ultimately protect the Conservatives and show them to be fair and reasonable.
It seems as though the taxi and private hire industry is being used as a political football by the Conservatives so as to highlight their support for the "gig economy" whilst castigating a Labour Mayor in a Labour run city, but then this is politics. This of course could be any industry, it isn't personal, it is a shot across the bow designed to gain political popularity.....but at what cost? Do we really want a sitting Government to be seen supporting the potential exploitation of an anomoly in law, an anomoly where it is quite clear that legislation has not caught up with technology? Conventional wisdom would dictate that we all must let the law take its course and due process take place, if the Government are then dissatisfied, look to change the law through parliament.