With 2016 not very far away now, and the Christmas holiday almost upon us, our old London Taxi Trade still battles on as we always do, and always have done.
And what a year for our trade it has been !
Be honest, could we have possibly been up against any more barriers than we have ?
The whole Hierarchy have betrayed us in a gut wrenching display of unfaithful treachery.
But why have they ?
Why have they behaved in such a scurrilous way ?
Don't misunderstand me here. I clearly hear the people who chant that the world has to move on. I understand totally that progress moves faster than some of us are comfortable with. I also fully see where people are coming from when they say that technology is key to a more civilized and superior future. Life moves on they say, and you have to move with it !
For me, I am comfortable with ALL of the above, and agree with it. So I will carry on writing, but bear these points in mind for a minute.
Not too long ago, the London Taxi Trade were getting on with their lot, doing what we do so professionally, that once again we win another world class citation and award, as being the very best Taxi service on the planet !
I'm probably being a bit flash here, but I am never surprised when we win it either ! I have travelled extensively doing one thing or another in my life, and naturally have used Taxi Cabs worldwide.
Naturally, I am biased, but NOBODY in any other country I have been to, could hold a candle to us. Honestly !
Why then, would that be do you think ? Luck ? I doubt it ! Once again though, just bear that in mind for a moment, and I will return to it.
As I say, we were busy doing what we have done so well for hundreds of years. Moaning ? Course we were ! We wouldn't be BRITISH if we weren't moaning about something, would we ?
Moaning, groaning and getting the job done, just like so many professional industries and trades in our country.
From as far back as 2011, there were talks of a Supercab coming to all parts of the world. To be honest, I looked at it, scoffed and thought that the pilot scheme was merely pie in the sky. However, the Uber pilot scheme was rolled out, and I was amazed at how much it had so far been embraced worldwide. But in ALL examples of Uber's operational platform, it was the licensing criteria and structure that was key to whether Uber Operations failed or succeeded.
I looked at our Ministers. I looked at our Licensing Authorities. I looked at our Enforcement Programme. I looked at our MP's and I looked at who were backing Uber..................................AND I BECAME EXTREMELY SCARED !
After my initial fear calmed and I had time to compose myself, I was utterly convinced that Men Were Coming To Kill Us !
As written in my posts before, I have some fantastic friends in this game of ours, many putting unrealistic chunks of their family time, into trying to make a clearer path for all of us. Some of my mates are militant, some of them are democratic.
Mates of mine don't need me to describe what side I belong to. Yes, I am naturally militant by nature. I have lived most of my life trying to ascertain whether an adversary can be trusted....or not.
But, that said, I have also been part of some very democratic success stories too.
In my time though, and through experience gained from all over the world, one rule became abundantly clear !
And that is, it is totally futile ...................TO FIGHT CORRUPTION with DEMOCRACY !
It simply CANNOT be done ! You may as well try to extinguish a fire with a can of petrol, or clean up an oil slick with water ! Totally and utterly pointless ! It just doesn't work !
It doesn't matter how democratic a country, a council, an authority, or whatever ..., if the opposition that you are trying to fight are bent, then to attempt to deal with them through playing the rules is a complete waste of financial and physical resources.
Democracy is fantastic. Its the way forward. Its the most civil method of resolving issues on the planet. BUT ONLY IF BOTH SIDES ARE STRAIGHT.
If it transpires then that the opposition you are dealing with, struggle to lay in bed straight, let alone behave in a professional capacity as straight, then you've got a problem.
A Huge one!
Remember a few paragraphs ago, I was saying how much I agree with technology, moving on and progress and the likes ?
Well how about then if something comes along, more or less out of the blue and actually manages to rock a strong, steadfast, established world known brand ?
For example, Uber come along from seemingly nowhere and attempt to knock the Great London Cab Trade out of the picture.
On paper, and if you went into the bank and gave that business projection to any UK Bank manager, he or she would laugh you out the branch !
How could you better the legendary London Black Cab Trade?
It hasn't been there for 350 years because people like the colour black ! Has it ?
No, of course not !
It has been there because our brand is not only world famously known for professionalism, safety, value and trustworthiness, but because our drivers are vigorously TESTED, not just in topographical skills, but medically, driving skills, financial history, and character, not to mention if the person is legally in the country !
So you are sitting in front of the bank manager. You pass over your business plan and he looks at you as though you are a lunatic ! But....you have an ace up your sleeve ! You have kept this card till last ! You then smugly tell the bank manager that you can undercut the London Cab Trade on price ! Your drivers wont know where they are or how to get to their destination, maybe, but THEY ARE CHEAP!
He still looks at you over your business plan projection as if you have just managed to scale the wall at Rampton ! And he would be right to !
I would expect the same reception, should I approach my bank manager and explain that by simply undercutting Eddie Stobart on price, I should expect the bank's blessing and walk out there with millions of pounds start up funding.
I am no bank manager, but would be wholeheartedly astonished if my bank manager thought that I could unseat the legendary Stobart brand......JUST BECAUSE I WAS CHEAPER !!
Stobart's brand is world famous ! Their drivers are vetted, they're trucks are fastidiously maintained, they have respect, they have followers, they are reliable, they are iconic ! Customers KNOW they' re load is in safe hands ! It would take an awful lot more than undercutting Eddie Stobart, to knock them off their deserved high perch ! And quiet rightly too !
So what's this Uber story then ?
Do they offer a BETTER service than our trade ?......... Of course they don't !
Is there a clear example of Uber having better, more PROFESSIONAL drivers than the London Cab Trade ?......... Only if you have just inhaled a cannabis bong , maybe !
Are Uber's safety record and customer care feedbacks an example to all of us ?........ Perhaps if you have lived in Colombia for many years they are !
Are Uber's drivers vigorously TESTED for National Security threat? Driving standards as a professional? in receipt of a Vigorous Medical test? Tested by a professional for thorough Topographical Knowledge of the chosen working area, i.e London ?..............
No ! For some mysterious and as of yet unknown reason, all of the above are deemed unnecessary.
Are Uber cheaper ?............ Sometimes they are, sometimes they are twenty times more expensive than a London Cab ! However, if you are attacked, raped or killed in an Uber, they are certainly not cheap !
What's Uber's general safety standard like ?.................. Shite !
Now back to my former paragraph again. Yes I'm all for improvement, of course I want a better standard, and naturally I welcome healthy competition !
But not from a band of cowboy mini cab operators like this mob ! But here's a surprise ! I don't blame Uber one bit ! Like I said earlier, they can only set their stall out if the governing hierarchy allow it !
As stated, yes, I am up for improvement, yes, I believe in moving on, but...............Uber are doing this? Are you sure ?
So over to TFL, Mayor Johnson and City Hall then ! If it is true what I have written about Uber above, and indeed it is clearly NOT a case of improvement, better safety, a superior service and vigorous driver testing...................THEN HOW COME UBER ARE WELCOMED WITH SUCH OPEN ARMS ?
OK, so the shadows on the 1969 Apollo Moon Landing were suspicious, JFK's assassin may well have been up on the grassy knoll, and Princess Diana's tragic end may very well have been orchestrated by persons unknown. We shall probably never know.
BUT LET'S BE FAIR HERE ! ARE TFL TRYING TO TELL US THAT UBER'S LICENCE APPLICATION HAS BEEN SQUEAKY CLEAN, 100% CORRECT AND UPFRONT FROM THE VERY FIRST APPLICATION FOR AN OPERATORS LICENCE ??
WHO WAS IT AT TFL WHO REFERRED TO UBER'S OPERATION AND SAID, "ITS WHAT THE PUBLIC WANTS !" ?
NO IT AINT ! OH NO IT AINT, SIR ! NOT ONE LITTLE BIT, YOU LITTLE PANTS ON FIRE, RASCAL, YOU !
Its what YOU WANT, isn't it Pinnochio ? Uber have been given a carte blanch safe forward passage, not because the public want it, its because TFL & CITY HALL WANT IT ! ISNT IT ?
Why on earth could that be then ?
My mind is in turmoil ! WHY, would they want Uber instead of us ?
Uber is an inferior service. Its sometimes cheap, but its dangerous, unreliable, and has either no safety or professional driving standards to adhere to or to boast about. I know TFL and City Hall have to be unbiased in ground movement operations, of course I do.
But surely TFL and City Hall have a duty of care to London's travelling passengers ?
Surely that's part of their remit and responsibility ?
And them clowns up there reckon ITS WHAT THE PUBLIC WANT ?!! Yeah ?
The public want raping, do they ?
The public want their bank accounts emptied when they sleep, do they ?
The public want to be subjected to dangerous sexual innuendo during their journey, do they ?
The public want driving the wrong way up Gower Street, do they ?
The public want knocking up in the air and killing in Islington, do they ?
YOU ABSOLUTELY POSITIVE ABOUT THAT ?
IS IT HONESTLY WHAT THE PUBLIC WANT, OUR PANTS ON FIRE PINNOCHIO HIREARCHY?
Its not, is it ?
Its what you lot want, isn't it ! Its why you and your MP's , Mayor and Governors want us out the way, isn't it ?
Its the same reason as you lot are calling for the acid tested Knowledge Exam to be scrapped too.
You know very well that the Knowledge puts us a million miles in front of you're Uber heroes, yet you still make our playing field murderously unfair, in favour of the never ending, money making, opium like trade that the Yankee Mini Cab gangsters generate !
I cant think or begin to understand why our hierarchy would make it so easy for Uber to work their operation in and on an unhealthy professional playing field. Maybe the award winning Investigative Journalist working on this with me for 7 months, will make it clearer for us eventually. We are doing OK, but need a little more time .
Our video evidence collated is damming. I wont make the same mistake with the BBC as I did last time either !
Believe it or not, I actually think we will come out the other side of this. Our Iconic Eddie Stobart like Brand is a different class ! We are so far in front of this cowboy, cheap skate mini cab mob, that I honestly think people are getting sick of them. It is now apparent that the "cheap" ride home, isn't that cheap after all !
People WANT quality, people WANT professionalism, people WANT safety and people will always WANT experts, in anything, not just Taxis !
Even if things stay as they are, I think we can expect a major surge back towards our industry in the New Year. I believe in our brand and I believe in our offer.
Our danger though Folks are not Uber, they are just mini cab operators. Our danger comes from the hirearchy suits with their untrustworthy feet under the desks of power, of enforcement and licensing !
MP's, Ministers, Civil Servants and others who call for the abolition of the knowledge, our service and it's operating remit, need to be closely watched and scrutinized at all times. They're professional intent requires forensic study, because somewhere under the fascia, may very well be just what we are looking for !
NOBODY of professional repute, and a credibility worth talking about could seriously value Uber's service in front of our London Taxi trade offer.
It just doesn't make sense ! So anyone of standing, especially from The House, needs to be scrutinized if they do. In my suspicious brain, the mere fact that a Member of Parliament would support and advocate a vastly inferior and less safe form of transport for his constituents........requires extremely close observation ! It just isn't feasible to say that something as effective and expert as The Topographical Knowledge Test is outdated, in favour of a sat nav whereby your attention has to revert from the road, is it ? These statements from academics and MP's stink like an old kipper to me !
Comparing Eddie Stobart's professional operation, although more expensive in the short term, to a 40 foot Articulated owner driver from the Czech Republic, running on red diesel, in an unsafe defective tractor unit with bald tyres and no Insurance..........is not the sort of thing I would be comfortable supporting if I were an MP from Dover.
UNLESS OF COURSE..............
Do I need to spell it out ?
Our World Winning Iconic Brand is something every single one of us with a badge around our neck, ought to be incredibly proud of.
We worked hard for the right to ply our expert knowledge and trade on the streets of London, and if I say it myself, we make a bloody good job of it !
Our Great Trade has had the guts ripped out of it by a bent, corrupt, incompetent and totally inept hierarchy.
For reasons that elude me, they have been more or less allowed to get away with it.
Not just our trade either. Look at the effing state of our Capital ! Just stand back and look at it ! Its an absolute bloody disgrace for a supposedly key player in the World's Top Elite Cities !
Boris Johnson is a buffoon. A slippery buffoon, but a buffoon nevertheless .
People are dying because of his dodgy emissions management, London is nigh on gridlocked 24/7 every day, the West End at night resembles something out of a Bollywood Film and the unrest, turmoil and distrust is overwhelmingly evident !
Look what they've done to our London ! Look what they've done to our Great Trade !
Folks, it time we put a stop to this, and took back what we worked our guts out to achieve, and what has been fraudulently snatched back by these OXBRIDGE BULLIES !
As I have said before and I will say again..............YOU CANT FIGHT CORRUPTION WITH DEMOCRACY !
Lets get the Christmas over with and see the New Year in Folks. Lets pull our crackers around the Christmas table with our loving supportive families. Lets toast in the New Year with a glass of champagne. Lets relax, maybe enjoy a quality Havana Cigar, a glass of Vintage Brandy and a nice hot bath. Lets spend a few well earned days surrounded by family, friends and loved ones.
AND IN EARLY 2016, LET'S STRAP THEM HELMETS ON, LACE THEM BOOTS UP, UNITE AS A TRADE IN TRUE SOLIDARITY.......AND TAKE BACK WHAT THEM GREASY PALMED SHYSTERS HAVE SYSTEMATICALLY STOLEN FROM US !
NO MORE WEARING GUM SHIELDS AND JOCK STRAPS, WE ARE NOT TAKING ANY MORE PUNISHMENT !
We will have one chance folks, one more roll of the dice. We've got nothing to lose now. Its SHOW TIME ! The Windows Have To Be Kicked In Now !
Enjoy the break my friends. We have much to do in the New Year. The clock is still ticking and I look forward to ensuring another 400 years for our Great London Taxi Trade !
We Aint Going Nowhere Bruv !
May I wish every single one of my London Taxi colleagues, all of the Trade Orgs and their Reps and Officers (yes, you as well Lewis !) the legendary Trade Stalwart and personal Hero of mine, Jim Thomas, our brilliant Poppy Cab Organiser, Mike Hughes, my fellow Trade Scribes on Taxi Leaks and other trade publications, and all my Brothers In Arms, whether they read my stuff in agreement or not........A Very Happy Christmas and Healthy New Year !
Be careful out there, God Bless (if you believe in him as I do) and in the warmest and most affectionate of London Taxi Traditions,
Be Lucky !