‘They won’t be able to stop them now,’ said my London cabby wistfully. He was talking about Uber, the black-cab man’s nightmare. I was on my way to an art class in Chelsea. Many of the younger students had arrived by using Uber, and although the London mayor Sadiq Khan says he will not renew their five year licence on September 30th it seems unlikely that he will get his way.
The matter is not just about the best way of getting from A to B in the city, this is culturally sensitive. Threatening to exile Uber at all, calling them ‘Not fit and proper to hold a licence,’ was extremely courageous, and as unexpected as the Brexit vote.
Uber, which arrived here from California with the 2012 Olympics, mainly to assist American tourists, now serves 3.5 mostly young Londoners every day and has added 40,000 more cars to London’s congested roads. The company is now worth forty billion dollars, but it faces losing its legal status here because it refuses to issue proper work contracts to its drivers, and has flagrantly threatened public safety, particularly of female passengers.
Uber drivers are mostly men from Africa, and south Asia and as such they pose a direct threat to European women, but this fact cannot be admitted in polite society. This problem is denied by all political parties and commentators of the Left, and ignored by even strident feminists. This cultural cringe first became alarmingly apparent at New Year when groups of migrants from North Africa, now living in Cologne, assaulted German women celebrating on the streets. The German press refused to report the events and police took no action until forced to do so by public outcry.
A continuing determination to ignore the effects on women of mass migration was displayed again this Sunday in an interview with German writer Jenny Erpenbeck. Her latest novel, Go, Went, Gone, about an elderly German academic befriending an asylum seeker and discovering that the young foreigner has a much older and wiser culture than his own, has just now been called ‘Masterly’ by The New Yorker. Erpenbeck would probably call herself a feminist, yet I heard her tell the BBC that people who worry about migrants attacking western women, whom she always terms ‘asylum seekers,’ are, ‘just guilty of prejudice.’ i.e. racism. She then refused to discuss the issue.
The willingness to let in young male migrants is considered understandable due to Germany’s appalling recent history. But she has no reason to share German guilt for their murderous ‘Ubermensch’ fantasies. Her grandmother was Jewish ‘untermensch,’ a Communist activist, lucky to survive. Even so, for Erpenbeck the safety of women does not seem to count against the needs of migrant men who are viewed not just as victims but bearers of a culture superior to ours.
This absurd blindness has allowed Uber to thrive. Whether it suits Erpenbeck or the BBC, between February 2015 and February 2016, there were 32 sexual assault claims made against Uber drivers in London. In the past 12 months to February 2017, that figure rose to 48 alleged offences, one every eleven days. In July this year, Samson Haile, 32, who sexually assaulted a female customer in the back of his cab was jailed for eight months. Jahir Hussain, 36, father of four, received twelve years for attacks on three separate women in London. He groped two and raped the third, cutting off their underwear with a knife after they fell asleep in the back of his cab.
That length of sentence seems harsh for someone who was probably confused about the mores of the society he had joined ‘for a better life.’ Obviously he shouldn’t rape, grope or cut up people’s underwear, but his main mistake was to move to a society he cannot possibly understand. Extreme apologists for migrants no doubt will assert that the crime lies with the British government for letting him in. He is now going to lose a chunk of his life and leave his children dependent on benefits.
Uber has proved itself not just dangerous to women in mini-cabs late at night. In 2014 Uber were banned in New Delhi after the rape of a young woman. The Uber driver who was already awaiting trial for at least four other criminal charges was later sentenced to life in prison. As if that wasn’t bad enough it has recently come out that Eric Alexander, former president of Uber business in the Asia Pacific, secretly and illegally obtained her medical records and showed them to numerous other executives in the hope that they could prove she was lying.
His handling of that situation is among two hundred and fifteen claims being investigated into both specific and widespread mismanagement abuses at the company, including allegations of sexism and sexual harassment. Not a good advert for enterprise and uncontrolled market forces.
In the US Uber are accused of causing thirty deaths this year, including fights with passengers, car crashes and running down a pedestrian. In New York in July a driver was found guilty of murdering his cousin. In March a man died in Seattle after an Uber driver caused an explosion by smashing into a petrol station.
Uber’s lack of checks has led to some extraordinary incidents; at the start of September Mohiussunnath Chowdhury from Luton decided it was time he murdered the Queen in the name of Allah. He typed Windsor Castle into his sat nav, but ended up outside a pub of that name in the town. He then went to Buckingham Palace with a four foot blade hoping to find her there. He allegedly wrote a suicide note to his sister which said:
‘The Queen and her soldiers will all be in the hellfire they go to war with Muslims around the world and kill them without any mercy.’
We are a long way indeed from the days of Sid Nosher who despite having a hippocampus swollen by ‘The Knowledge’ refused to cross the river after 8pm.
Uber has been criticised internationally for failing to carry out proper checks or take the finger prints of its drivers. They will employ anyone without even meeting them in person. They are accused of ignoring complaints from customers and failing to inform the police after dangerous incidents. But why would they make proper checks on the background of their drivers to protect women, or offer their untermensch proper employment rights? Uber founder Travis Kalanick has thrived in a society where there is now an acceptance of cheap migrant labour at all costs.
His business is worth forty billion dollars, he has become a multi-millionaire through a contorted form of advanced capitalism which is also sanctioned by the Left. In a climate of cupidity backed up by cries of ‘racism,’ and ‘Islamaphobia’ he was always going to be quids in.
The Mayor of London’s heroic ban challenges all that, but others have made attempts before him. In 2015 Boris Johnson then Mayor, tried to regulate Uber. He wanted to limit the total number of mini-cabs in the city, and make all drivers pass a written English test. Also to force all private hire firms, including Uber, to wait at least five minutes between accepting a booking and picking up a customer which would have made them less competitive against black-cabs. Within hours he and his senior aides began to be bombarded with angry messages from Downing Street.
Fury came straight from the top. George Osborne and David Cameron are believed to have sent forthright texts to Boris by mobile phone. Others came via special advisers and senior members of the No 10 policy unit who began writing stern emails and making shouty telephone calls. More abuse came from the offices of Cabinet ministers, including Business Secretary Sajid Javid.
They all demanded that the Mayor drop every policy which could threaten the finances of Uber. According to the FT, Cameron ‘lobbied’ on behalf of Uber. The only good idea for London that Boris ever had was watered down in the name of innovation, enterprise and consumer choice.
We have no idea what will happen to the latest Mayor’s good idea. It should be cherished as an example of decency in a dirty age, but considering the forces of cronyism, greed, mindless young consumers focussed on their phones who will never choose to take a bus, and a lack of any support from the Left, Uber is probably here to stay. Thinking Khan might get his way is a bit like hoping that Brexit will actually happen. The wind is blowing the other way.