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The Great British taxi blame game

Two sprinters are to compete in an Olympic race, one of those sprinters has worked hard, trained most of his life, lived a good, clean, wholesome life, done all of the right things and complies with every letter of every word of the regulations.

The second sprinter has entered into the sport of sprinting relatively later, he has almost no training under his belt and only a few qualifying events. Sprinter number two does however, have an unlimited supply of performace enhancing drugs, which includes steroids that will allow him to get a 50% better performance out of his body. This, however, contravenes IOC regulations and his country's sporting body's regulations, although the sporting body have their suspicions about the second sprinters methods.

Unsurprisingly, despite a great run by sprinter number one, number two wins the race by a comfortable margin, not because he is a better runner, not because he had trained harder, but because he was aided by banned substances.

So who is at fault here? Is it the sprinter taking the illegal substance? No it isn't, he is merely doing what he can get away with until he is caught. Is it the IOC? Only partially, they are only able to test the second sprinter whilst competing in IOC sanctioned events. Is it his country's regulatory body? Absolutely it is, for they are aware that there may be a problem and yet choose to turn a "blind eye".

Does this remind you of anybody or any particular industry? 

The taxi industry, not just in London, but across the country is encountering the industrial equivalent of the previously mentioned, sporting fiasco. Across the country we have drivers blaming drivers, demonising each other, claiming that they are "trade killers", critical of how each other ply their trade. Are the drivers to blame for the current predicament that the industry is in. The short answer is no, many drivers across the country subscribe to an organisation or a union to represent them, this to a vast extent abdicates their responsibility for how the trade should function to those organisarions or unions.

Are the organisations or unions therefore responsible? Again the short answer is no, an organisation or union can only negotiate or lobby on the drivers behalf, they wield very little power without the back-up of the drivers and can only advise on policy, not enshrine it into law. If you have not one or two or even three unions, but several, this creates a problem because the numbers behind that union are diminished. This therefore weakens any given organisation or unions hand, unless the different factions unite on a common policy.

Next we come to Transport for London or any other regulatory body across the country, are they at fault? Surprisingly, not entirely, no. Any given regulatory body can only work within the current legislative framework, that said, they do have the ability to exert pressure when needed on any given government of the day if they so choose. Problems start to arise when you have a governmental body who are politically opposite to the regulatory body, nobody will do anybody, any favours, regardless of how compelling a case any given industry may have.

This therefore leaves the government, are they to blame for the situation the taxi (and phv) industry is in. The answer to that is a resounding yes. 

The government implemented the deregulation act of 2015, the reason is pretty simple, the govenment subscribe to the neo-liberal ethos of an open free market.....when it suits them. The deregulation act of 2015 suited the government, this therefore means that there is almost no chance of Chris Grayling, the Secretary of State for Transport ever doing anything to assist the taxi industry, nationwide, despite any ensuing lobbying, it just isnt politically expediant.

The taxi industry now has to now look at combining forces with each other both locally and nationally.....and possibly with the private hire industry to exert enough pressure to facilitate change, which may mean going beyond Chris Grayling. There are over 110,000 taxis nationwide with many organisations and unions. Individually the industry is weak, collectively, countrywide, there is strength in numbers. 

Last June Wes Streeting headed up the All Party Parliamentary Group For Taxis, they produced a solid report, a report which included the need for legislation surrounding cross-border hiring, a legal definition of what denotes "plying for hire" and giving councils the option to cap PHV numbers, worryingly this could be kicked into the "long grass" unless pressure is exerted on the governmemt to implement these much needed proposals. 

Ultimately, the taxi industry, nationally are now reliant on each other,  no single entity  will "save the trade", it's a foolish notion to believe otherwise, and a dangerous one at that, it breeds complacency among quarters that could assist in the fight. The taxi industry has a collective responsibility to stop demonising each other over petty issues and cheap inconsequential squabbles and put pressure on where it really counts.....the Govenment.

Right now, sprinter number two has been "found out", it's now up to sprinter number one to apply the pressure, without any quarter given.

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