Thursday, December 10, 2015

Surely It's Time For COBRA ? SEMTEX

 Back during the 70's, when the troubles of Northern Ireland
and the Miners Strikes were rife, Government Ministers  decided that in times of National Crisis, coordination was required by all involved.

A secret and special room beneath the Whitehall catacombs was set up, to enable all concerned parties, Ministers, Military Leaders, Government Heads and such, to meet, discuss and launch a plan of emergency action.
This special room for these serious and special occasions, was known as the Cabinet Office Briefing Room.  COBRA for short.

Many important and serious events and issues of UK National importance have since been discussed in this room, but the one common denominator which is the decisive factor of whether this room is used or not, is............................EMERGENCY.
Our colleagues certainly do not need me, to spell out that the last few years have probably been the most damaging, the most devastating and the most depressing periods, that our 400 year old profession, has gone through.
I hate it when people say I told you so, but let's be fair here, the signs of what was going to happen to us, have been pretty clear from way back in 2011.

Transport For London and two Mayor, Livingstone and Johnson have systematically dismantled our Cab Trade, brick by brick, nail by nail.

At every conceivable opportunity, the Head's of London have shafted us unmercifully in a scurrilous act of brutal unfaithfulness.

But why did we not expect it ? 
Why were we all surprised ? 
I wasn't ! 
Not one bit ! 
And I have dozens of posts on "the Anderson Shelter" warning us.

Livingstone, Johnson and Coe ALL have a record of professional or personal betrayal. If they can't be loyal and faithful to their wives, family and colleagues, why on earth would they worry about betraying us ? 
We are mere minions folks ! 
No more important to them, than any of the other victims that they have unceremoniously smashed into the mud on their way to the top !

Whilst on that very subject, it is looking likely that Zac Goldsmith has an enviable chance of making himself comfortable in City Tower soon. Another one !

The same mould, the same intent the same principles. BETRAYAL either professionally, personally or both, is the common denominator.

 How much pleasure I get watching silver spoon Sebastian, squirming in the hot seat of the Olympic Investigation. An International and potential platinum showcase for the London Taxi, robbed from us by the snidey Lord.
We all know that the murky licensing of Uber has so far been unexplained. We all know the ride share app is illegal. 
We all know that the CRB/DBS is a threat to National Security. We all know that backhanders are being put about by someone somewhere. We all know that it is simply dangerous and wrong to accept mini cab applications from potential terrorists. We all know that the enforcement programme on our streets has been deliberately smoked like a bee keeper calming his bees. 

We all know the taxi emissions demand was bent. 
We all know the receipt printer condition of fitness was a scam. 
We all know the taxi scrappage that cost our trade millions was a ruse.  
We all know that "they" want shot of us, and 
we all know too................THAT "THEY" ARE WINNING !
There are around 25,000 or so of our colleagues, who are licensed to ply their trade as London Taxi Drivers. To represent them, there are around half a dozen or so Unions/clubs/associations/groups, all purporting to "Fight" for the common good and preservation, of both their member's livelihood's and future's.

During my time in our trade, I have been a member of all of them. Read what you like into this if you will, but today and for the last four years, I have been a member of none.
Please, please please.....don't think I am knocking or slating any particular Org out there or indeed any particular person or persons.

I was on the phone for well over an hour yesterday, listening to what one of our colleagues was putting into one of our trade orgs. It was a ludicrous amount of hours and a most definite impingement on his private life. But yet he does it every day, and goes on doing it. When one of our staunch trade colleagues and campaigners set up the UCG, it almost killed him ! 
He worked tirelessly fighting for the good of our trade, and quite understandably was warned by his body's  immune system to slow down !
I could name dozens of them. Constantly working their pipes out, putting hours and hours of private family time in, in an effort to clear the road so our trade can drive through.
But in spite of this..............We Are Getting Murdered !  
Why is this lack of progress happening ?

Now despite the knockers, I don't buy for a second that these trade reps and people I have spoken about above, do it for stand down money, or to prevent them driving a cab ! 
That isn't the truth. It is hard graft listening to cab drivers whinging and expecting you to wave a wand !
No, they do it because they honestly are trying to find a way in. They are doing it to attempt to create a better future for us.
But to be honest, and with genuine and honest and total respect.....................they are losing !
If you ask the average cabby on the ranks what we have gained from our trade orgs, he or she would probably struggle for an answer.

If it were me that you stopped and asked, although I would too struggle to see what we have gained from the Orgs, I would offer a reason for where, I think, we have gone wrong.
When a trade organisation is set up, it is invariably on the back of a militant like stance, that has maybe given our trade a small amount of respite initially.  Drivers like it, they see something happening and want to be part of the action. However, and in almost every case, the responsibility, administration, management and daily running of such an organisation, starts to become more structured. Structured in legal criteria standards, structured for registration legalities, structured for employment criteria legalities, etc.

When that happens, the legal and industrial responsibilities, criteria and running of the Org, take on a whole new remit. 
Orgs are then left in a position whereby the running of the outfit is so embroiled in administration, book keeping, records, memberships, e mail departments, telephone enquiry lines, democratic voting procedures, annual general meetings, diary and planning arrangements, website building and the like, that the aim of the game in the first place, was to defeat the opposition, is overlooked!

All of these tasks mentioned above, require man power to run ! And when that amount of manpower is required to run the admin and organisation side of the Org, the initial militant prowess and biting power, that was so attractive in the first sadly but unintentionally lost ! 
They are only human ! 
Not only are they doing that, but have to make a living too! 
I know that some of them get a token stand down pay, but it doesn't account for what is lost if they were to just drive their cab.
But not only that. Due to the fact that we have half a dozen or so of these trade Organisations representing their members, a sort of football supporters mentality emerges. I have seen colleagues of ours who vehemently give loyal support to a trade organisation's remit, even if they believe the action will be detrimental to their livelihood. 

If I think a particular action would be beneficial to myself and our colleagues, I would support and back it to the hilt, irrespective of the lanyard colour.

Personally, and very naively, I would love to see just ONE London Taxi Trade Organisation with teeth sharp enough to take on and wallop anyone who dare attempt to destroy us. A trade org whereby all or at least most of us would belong to, subscribe to and trust to ensure that our children have a profession to follow us in to.
That of course, is only in my dreams ! 
Sadly, the reality of the situation is that we have several organisations, all setting their stall out, all purporting and indeed trying to fight for their members. And to a certain extent, they ARE fighting. But it is a fight that all six or so of them are badly getting beat at.

TFL are acutely aware of our fragmentation, and use it very astutely against us. When one of our trade Orgs put on their boots and helmets and other orgs are seen in the media as not supporting it, the press, the public, TFL and anyone else who want to see us in the history books.....................have a field day !
We cant all agree on everything I know, but surely we cant all disagree that we are watching 400 years go down the carzy !
I know it is easy for me to say and to comment from my keyboard, of course I do. But on the same token, I am not taking anyone's dough either, and saying I will save them. I know our trade orgs have many many dedicated men and women all putting in long hours, giving up free time and punching as hard as they can. But folks, unless we as a trade get our act together and attack this assault on our profession as a combined matter of emergency...... we will see the end of our tenure in the New Year. 

The mob from California may very well be running out of dough, they may very well be getting a bad reputation, but they are still annihilating our customer base and we need to get them out !
Maybe now is the time for the football mentality of our representing bodies to put old scores aside, and merge their wealth, strength and unity......into one more devastating punch to knock out the opposition completely. A pipe dream, I know. But just imagine the strength of us if we could do it !
 We are struggling out there now folks. You don't need my assurance to tell you what January will be like. Cant we all get around the table ? 
Just this once ? 
Surely this is now an Emergency..........Surely time for COBRA ?
Be lucky all. Stay safe.
8829 Semtex.


Anonymous said...


I find this post refreshing yet totally outrageous at the same time.

Trade unity was in fact a reality. This summer, LTDA,LCDC,UNITE,RMT & UCG all attended meetings together and an industrial consensus was sought. Unfortunately the stumbling block appeared to be that all orgs were at odds with each other over what is the biggest threat to our industry. This is still the major issue.

If we are to go forward as a collective then a democratic mandate must be agreed to facilitate ALL decisions & actions.

However, as we saw in the summer, fragmentation ensued and a fair degree of mud slinging too. Namely on this very site. Individuals developed a football fan mentality that was perpetuated by mis-information and disingenuous accounts of intentions.

The key to our fight is plying for hire. PHV by way of the Uber platform are breaking down the differential between the two-tier system.
RMT have campaign, lobbied and met with Ministers, trade orgs and drivers to push the message that our right to ply for hire on the streets of London is beong emulated by technology. The Law Commission started with omitting the practice from their reform report and the GLA Future Proof followed suit.
There has been much debate and mis-informed opinion that 'laws already exist' and that that the Law Commission couldn't define plying for hire.
What needs to be understood is that the Law Commission couldn't not define plying for hire, they WOULDN'T.

RMT has had doors slammed in its face, MPs glaze over and trade orgs exercise nonchalance over the issue. This is made evermore harder when the 'football fan' mentality is encouraged by organisations and individuals.

There is a belief that if RMT say it, then disagree!

So if we are to move forward together let us all agree on some principle points here and stop 'Bob Crow spinning in his grave'....

Democracy gives you a right to have your say. Not your way.

Lewis Norton
Branch Secretary
RMT London Taxi Drivers


let's not just get around a table, let's get around Parliament Square every Wednesday at PmQ's 12pm and have our own COBRA meeting !!!

Anonymous said...

These so called trade reps work tirelessly for nothing. This is true; they work tirelessly on Twitter tweeting out innane one liners that achieve NOTHING except boosting their sad little ego's!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like someone has traded in their lance for a handbag and is looking for sympathy - it can be found in the dictionary between s#*t and syphilis.

Anonymous said...

Hello Lewis,
Thankyou for your reply, and hope you are keeping well. I hear clearly what you say my friend, but dismayed that you find my post "outrageous".
In my post (Paragraph 16) beginning with the word "Please" I was hoping to relay my sentiments.

I understand naturally that we all perceive English language in many different variations. Outrageous was the word you used, quite acceptably by myself, to describe my post.

Can I tell you how I perceive "Outrageous", Lewis.

I think it is monumentally outrageous, that with 5 or 6 leading Trade Representative Organisations out there, that The Great London Taxi Trade is not only been dying in the water for the last 5 years, but on the point of being absolutely annihilated by an American Mini Cab Firm !
Why wasn't it seen earlier ? What has been done about it ?

We are GONE Lewis ! Dead mate ! Finished ! Game Over !

And say to me that "Trade Orgs are still at odds as to what is the biggest threat to our industry "

WHAT ? Did I perceive that correctly ? What is the biggest threat to our industry ? I am no wizard, dont get me wrong, but how about starting with DEATH ? Is that admissible as a trade threat ? The DEATH of our legacy, the DEATH of our profession, the Death of The Great London Black Cab and the DEATH of our Industry in its entirety !

Is that not threatening enough ?

Lewis, you must know mate that we are dying out there Brother ! WE AINT GOT TIME FOR ANYMORE BLAH BLAH MEETINGS FOR CHRIST SAKE !

You 6 should have been dug in and waiting for these ponces to arrive ! Dug in tooled up and ready for them !
Now look at the state of us ! We have had it mate !

I appreciate and know what you have done so far, but like the others, it just aint enough mate ! You have to do other things Lewis. The current strategy is too long winded mate. We don't have the time !

Trade Orgs seem to think that if they are doing something, then that's just fine ! It aint Lewis ! Its not fine, its pointless !

Do you remember when I launched Operation Nightingale all on my own ? Thousands yes thousands of pounds of my own money. I got nutted by the bouncer at Crazy Larrys, I got spat at by the doorman on Nobu and got my cab rammed in Picaddilly resulting in 1800 quids worth of damage which I lost my no claims bonus because of !

Then the BBC shafted me ! Do you remember what I said after it all ? I do, and many of your members will !
I tell you what I DIDNT say though. I didn't say I am making progress. I didn't say I am doing what I can and working my pipe out behind the scenes.

I said, " It was a waste of money, a waste of time, I did what I thought was worthwhile but it all ended up a lot of bollox ! I was betrayed by the BBC and prohibited by the Police for using certain material. I will have to think of something else !"

That what I said !

Lewis, its an emergency mate. If you trade orgs between you don't come up with something spectacular......we are well and truly brown bread mate.

Why are you talking to Ministers ? What will they do ? They are all on the take, they are all in it for themselves and I don't know of any of them who I could say are worth a wank ! Two bob mate !

We need to take back whats ours ! Today, Monday perhaps !

Lock up the silly offices, pull down the blinds, chuck the silly membership books and fucking annual general meeting minutes out the window, throw the office keys in the Thames , start them cabs up and block the fucking Capital down !


Have a nice weekend mate. Be lucky and take care.


Anonymous said...

The Trade ain't dead ! Long Live The Mayfair Mob !

Editorial said...

Steve, to be fair to Lewis he has only been in the game for a few years so, has little experience and won't have any knowledge of your efforts.

The BBC reporter who stabbed you in the back, was Colin Furbe (not sure if the spelling).

Not long after op nightingale I was approached by the Beeb to do a short item. I asked if Colin was on their team and when they said yes...I flatly refused.

A few years later thought myself, Jonathan Myers and Heather Rawlinson were approach to do a documentary for the inside out London program.
We were on this project for over a year and when it finally went out, although heavily edited, it was still well received and put out a positive.

Trouble is, these programs are soon forgotten as there is never any follow up.

Jim Thomas

Anonymous said...

Thanks Jimmy.

Of course, there are no hard feelings for our colleague and friend, Lewis. I get a bit frustrated, that's all mate.
I think the trade Org's have a lot to answer for Jim. This dangerous and perilous position didn't spring up overnight. Why did it take us so long to challenge ?

As you know, I went on to do Operation Crystal and just before broadcast was told that if it went out, I would not only be sued for damages but arrested for perjury !
I did spring some traps, I admit, but if the snared were as professional as they say they are and ought to be.....then they would have never fallen into them, would they ?
Anyway, as you know, my wife said if I lost another house I was on my own. So my bottle went !

I'm sorry I tend to get a bit hasty at times Lewis, its not aimed at you mate. I just get so amazed at how we have been left like this.

Anyway, onwards and upwards. No offence meant to anybody.

God bless, Jim. Speak soon mate.


Anonymous said...


Gloriously ignoring my points as to what the problem is. We can block the streets up all year, but you'll have to justify why. That's where you'll need a reason, something that represents the dispute. PHV plying for hire is pretty much the single biggest reason I can think of.

As always, nice condescension from the Editor. I'm forever told that I'm inexperienced and just a 'butter boy'. That said, what's the excuse for those like yourself and Jim whove been in the trade for years and fail to understand your basic working rights? I'm not saying anything controversial, all what I know and say is based in fact. Its for all to read!

However, it appears once again individuals want any excuse to ignore what I, RMT are saying to instead resort to character assasination. This entirely is your article.

Case. Point.


Handbag swinging butter boy

Lewis Norton

Anonymous said...

Aah at last some meaningful discussion.

Anonymous said...

The RMT are among the worst for having a meeting to discuss a meeting - to organizing a meeting about a meeting to organize a ballot , which usually ends up by having another meeting where they complain that they have been excluded from another meeting. Then they all get confused about what the original meeting was about and have a show of hands then vote to reconvene the meeting next month.

Is it any wonder the RMT taxi branch have talked themselves up a dead end street !!!

Anonymous said...

Go get em Semtex, they don't like it Up Em, and they certainly don't like hearing the truth. No where's me popcorn for the main event.

Anonymous said...

Folks, and with respect to our Trade Orgs, Democracy is lovely ! Its great ! Very civil and modern !
But Democratic law, order and cohesion can ONLY be implemented, if both sides who are making said democracy policy........ARE STRAIGHT !

Are TFL straight ? Are most of our MP's straight ? Is the Mayor straight ?

Democracy that the Cab Orgs so love to flirt with is only any good if there is no danger of fraud, corruption or foul play.

We are up against all three of those evils Folks. Democracy has no open door for us.

Options ? Take it ! Don't ask for it ! Take it !

Hold them to ransom until they realise that we are utterly sick and tired of their same old bollox and speil day in day out !

600 Ubers a week are being licensed out there ! 600 hundred mini cabs a week folks!

Don't put up with it ! Show them we aint having it ! For Fux sake folks !


Anonymous said...

Lewis, Ive only just noticed your reply.

You're doing it again ! Course you cant block the streets up all year ! How would London's commercial and private infrastructure operate ? That's the whole bloody point of the action ! London cant afford to have the roads blocked !
Need a reason ? Need a bloody reason Lewis ? Take your pick !
How about the initial licensing of Uber was corrupt ? How about the Licensing of Terrorists is illegal and against National Security Law ?

How can you say I am gloriously avoiding your points ? There's no glory in sitting in an official seat taking London Cab Drivers money and watching this great trade slide down the shit house on the strength of not being able to think of A REASON !

Why do you think they target reservoirs and electricity sub stations in conflict ? Cos it is effective ! Blocking streets all year round aint going to happen Lewis ! London cant afford it mate ! One day will do it !

Do any of these Ministers you talk to drive a cab for a living ? Course they don't ! They don't give a toss what you, your members or what I want mate ! They will listen to you all day long ! And then in gracious Oxford and Cambridge graciousness, bend you over that RMT desk and shaft you and all of us into the next millennium !

By all means give the Ministers a shot. By all means give TFL a chance. By all means listen to what the other side have to say. But and this is a big BUT, if it transpires that after democratic, courteous and polite negotiating, listening and complying that they are either lying or leading us up the garden path..........then the dogs have to be let out the dog van mate !

"They" have been taking the piss out of us and bending us over the table for at least the last five years Lewis. If you think that negotiating a democratic advantage is going to work at this hour...........I am genuinely lost for words !

There is one thing that you have failed to grasp in my intent. Make no mistake about it, see all that negotiating, all that talk, all them meetings you have had ? They will be smashed into oblivion if all 5 or 6 of our trade Orgs deployed a full on Trade Demo to stop London's infrastructure from moving !

I will assure you of two things:

1. The Authorities will shit themselves !
2. The day after the demo, watch the negotiating offers come to the table then !

600 mini cab licences a week Lewis. London cant take it. Nor can we ! I aint bought the fucking turkey yet mate !

Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock............


Anonymous said...

The Taxi workshops that brought about the Taxi Age Limit were corrupt.

The PH consultation was a sham.

TFL are corrupt.

Boris Johnson corruply introduced the Taxi Age Limit.

If TFL are turning a blind eye to the current PH regs, what do you think TFL will do when the new regs are introduced. Certain individuals were told five years ago that TFL were out to screw us over, they refused to listen and helped, yes helped TFL dig the hole that the trade is in today. These same collaborators are complaining today about the stress and workload they are under. The problem is, they could never grasp the concept that once the toothpaste is out of the tube; you can't get it back in!
Somehow John Mason convinced this mixed bunch of incompetents other wise and they helped TFL to screw the trade over. For these reasons I abandoned trade orgs one by one as they moved towards collaborating with the collaborators. The trade may well go down the tubes, but I will never drink from the TFL poisen challice the treacherous collaborators quaff from.

Anonymous said...

Lewis, we have a conservative government and a conservative Mayor. The RMT and anyone associated with them are the Anti Christ in the eyes of these people.

You talk about rights like we are all ignorant of them - I think you will be surprised to know we do understand what our rights are, and how we are being denied of them.

If and when the RMT declare they are taking legal action against TFL and Boris Johnson I will get behind the cause... In the meantime, you and the other non combatents can carry on sitting around your table of importance playing whose on first base!

Stop playing the victim and man up to the justified criticism.

Anonymous said...

A number of points.

I am not advocating for the democratic process with Tfl nor am I playing victim here.

The original post asks that the trade work together, unified. I've given an explanation as to the status of why the orgs. appear to be at loggerheads. Continually the points raised are being ignored. A question was posed, I answered.

I find it ironic that I'm being told to 'man up' by someone who's posted as
anonymous 7:31 ....?
Saying that everyone is aware of their rights clearly isn't the case as by virtue of the fact we are having this debate affirms the differences.

We read alot on here about Bob Crow and what his intentions would be if he was still alive. Largely i'm sure these comments are made by individuals who probably never knew or shared Bob Crows principles. However In response as to why RMT haven't explored a legal challenge...

"Never trust a bunch of people who spend all day swaning around in wigs & gowns"
- B.Crow

Yours in solidarity

Lewis Norton

Anonymous said...


All what you have said can be attributed as to why the trade hasn't achieved industrial success. Butterflying from one thing to the next, disparate calls of injustice and no strategy.

Basic industrial relations; Problem - demand - solution

Seriously, drop all the crude analogies and military metaphors.

Mini-cabs are plying for hire. That's why there is an influx of 600 per week, that's why the streets are congested, that's why our takings are down, that's why the trade is dying.

Define plying for hire, defend our sole reason for obtaining the knowledge of London.

Get on board!

Unity is strength.

Lewis Norton

Danny said...

RMT are a one trick pony. You can now see why they have been led from being the third biggest org down to to 6th. They've been haemorrhaging members under bad leadership for about 18 months now, with their most militant founding members walking away to join other trade bodies. Soon, they will be able to hold their branch meetings in a phone box.

Anonymous said...

Lewis my friend. I am not discussing it anymore with you. Thankyou for your welcome to get on board mate, but on this occasion I will refrain from accepting your kind offer.
Instead, I shall take the liberty if I may, of affording myself one more crude analogy.
I am going to light up a disarmingly smooth 6.9 inch 47 ring gauge Romeo y Julieta Churchill cigar, and then systematically run a sheet of A4 paper, edgeways across my Jap's eye.
I am hoping to reenact the highs and lows of living and loving in the Great London Taxi Trade.
Good luck Lewis. I wish yourself, your members and The RMT all the best in the future.

Brian said...

And there, above, you have it.
This is why we can't win.
' I'm right, you're wrong '...replicated 25,000 across the cab trade.
I am no different.
Being stubborn may be enough to see us through, the Uber scam could vanish overnight....$12.1bn debt...wanna borrow some more Trav ?

Anonymous said...

Hello Lewis, I was about to sing your praises as a stand and face the music trade representative. However, since you have decided to be so arrogant and confrontational, I will finish where Semtex left off...

I did know Bob Crowe and met him on several occasions, one two one !

I was among a very few London cab drivers he personally invited to join the RMT. Were you ?

You wouldn't want to know what he told me about his thoughts on the RMT Cab Section - Tinnion was in the chair of despair at the time - and the rest is history: Nothing gained and certainly NOTHING achieved.

I said, "why don't you man up and accept the justified criticism!"

You put a slant on that, misquoting what I actually said with typical 7 badge hubris.

Lewis, you are vastly out of your depth, and have spent too much time listening to people blowing smoke up your chimney. Consequence is - You are just another ego with nothing to offer but inexperience.

Now if you are so well politically connected, you should be able to find out who I am in five minutes flat, then you will bottle it like all of the others!

I've had my badge for 30 years and have turned cab trade politics on its head; you on the other hand are a pimple on the spot on my backside.