Greg Smith: Uber? Let people decide

Cllr Greg Smith gave the following speech at the recent Council meeting.

Mr Mayor, I did not get into politics to ban things. To interfere with people’s lives or businesses or they way they go about putting a roof over their families head and food on the table.

I have always believed the free market not only ensures the widest choice for consumers and competition keeping prices fair; but is the incubator of innovation and progress in the face of the lazy, vested interests, who have no interest in consumers, individuals or families: only ever their self interest in the status quo.

Market disruptors, like Uber, keep the wheels of economic progress moving.

3.5 million registered users.  40,000 people who earn their living.

855,000 signatures on change.org petition.

What has Labour got against all of these consumers, workers and visitors in London?

Safety?

It is a nonsense to say this is about safety.  In the year to the end of March 2017, there were 1,996 recorded sexual offences across London’s public transport network – but no one is advocating banning the tube or bus network.

There are those – in all walks of life – for whom evil runs in their veins and they set out to commit horrendous and awful crimes.  In the taxi trade, that is predominantly by those who equally illegally operate completely without a license, but is also spread across all other types of taxi and cab.  Of course, across all business more cab be done to stamp out potential criminals before they commit their crimes, but let us not pretend this is an Uber problem, nor taint the vast majority of their 40,000 drivers with the sort of slurs their critics have thrown against them.

Indeed, as far as Uber is concerned, I put it to this Chamber that a can booked via an app using GPS, where the consumer gets the drivers name, vehicle registration and licence number in advance and then whose journey is tracked by GPS all the way to their destination is fundamentally SAFE.

Much better than the old days – before Uber – where it was not uncommon to stand for ages late at night on the off chance a Black Cab would come past with their light on, only to be told “nah, not goin’ West mate”.

And don’t take my word for it, quoted in the Guardian – of all places – Sarah Green, co-director of the End Violence Against Women coalition, said that it is “absolutely real” that many women will be concerned about the potential demise of Uber. “It makes sense that something as easy to use – and offering a door-to-door service – will give a lot of women a feeling that it improves their ability to get about.”

No – this is nothing to do with safety.  But yet another example of Labour and the left showing their contempt for consumers and warped ideological opposition to competition in the face of vested interests.

Competition works: indeed Uber and similar companies have even dragged the vested interests up with them – forcing more black cabs than ever to accept cards as payment to keep some trade.

If they are as moderate as they claim to be: stand up to your mayor and your leader. Be on the side of 3.5 million consumers and 40,000 workers. Embrace competition. Let people decide.

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