Credibility,Trust and Professionalism
After the Civil War , in 1654 Oliver Cromwell set up the Fellowship of Master Hackney Carriages by Act of Parliament, and taxi driving became a profession. This makes the licensed taxi trade the oldest regulated public transport system in the world.
Approaching almost 400 years of platinum service to London and her people, London Taxi Drivers have served billions of people with the same credibility, trust and professionalism, as our forbearers demonstrated in the 1600's.
It takes years to complete the world famous "London Knowledge". It is difficult, lonely, and incredibly long winded. What's more, the financial burden to get oneself through such an arduous marathon of qualification can be compared to a university degree.
It doesn't end there either. Enhanced Criminal Records check, full and thorough medical tests and a specialist driving exam is not only required initially, but monitored, checked and renewed throughout a London Cabby's career.
The shiny green badge that is issued at the end of this monolithic feat does not just represent a passed test. It represents enormous trust, envied knowledge of our capital, mental and physical soundness, and a massive responsibility to safely convey passengers through some of the most difficult and intense traffic conditions in Europe.
School children,film stars, celebrities, sportsmen and women, aristocrats, business people, ambassadors, diplomats, tourists, and even members of worldwide royal families know instinctively that to hail a London Cab not only guarantees them a total professional to entrust themselves with, but almost 400 years of pedigree, and solid gold loyal service.
There isn't a corner of the globe, whereby a photo of a black cab wouldn't be instantly recognised as part of our iconic London. Like the Queens Guards, The Tower of London and Big Ben, our London Cabs and their drivers are deeply engraved in the capital city's foundations.
SO HOW COME THE BETRAYAL THEN ?
How on earth can an established platinum service that is as desperately needed in London as much today as it was over 300 years ago...............be so badly treated, rode roughshod over and disrespected as much as we are today, by the top of our establishment ?
The most senior police officer in the country was recently quoted as saying London Cab Drivers "only complained because they were scared of competition"
What does he know about our City ? He's a Yorkshireman ! He spent most of his professional life dealing with Scousers and criminals up North !
Apparently, he doesn't realise that motorised rickshaws are illegal either ! Ask him how serious hunting hares with dogs is or the penalties for serving a pint of John Smiths with a flat head is and I bet he could throw the book at you
How about the traitor Ken Livingstone ? Remember this in 2007 ?
"“The black cab is one of London’s most instantly recognisable trademarks and is an incredibly important part of London’s transport network.This project will help address the barriers to employment that currently exist for women and people from Black, Asian and ethnic minority communities to participate in this important part of our city’s life.”
£2million he wasted on that ludicrous racist idea, before it was scrapped! In my mind he should have been nicked for racism, because it was ! Remember when he said the London Cab Trade was a middle aged white man's trade? Nobody helped me do the knowledge apart from my wife. I had no funding. I bought my own moped and points sheets.
I don't need to mention Boris Johnson and his betrayal to our trade, do I ? He slaughtered our loyalty and legacy during the Olympics, and murdered us with the emissions fiasco. Another egotistical self styled buffoon, whose only ambition is to be leader of his party.
I have had my green badge long enough to remember a mutual respect that our trade and the Old Bill had. Look at the situation today. Apart from specialist units who have officers with predominantly vast experience, London's Police Service in the main are shameful.
The inherent lack of law awareness and proper police training has been hugely evident since Hendon Police Training College closed it's doors in 2011 due to lack of funding.
I am a great believer in public image. I think it's important, especially in the middle of our vast city. I am also aware of how brave and good smaller men and women can be in combat.
However, the copper I saw in London's Oxford Street last week must have been fired there out of a cannon ! If it wasn't Jimmy Clitheroe, mine's a bloater ! Not just their image either.
Their lack of any understanding of our job and it's laws are breathtakingly inept.
The legacy of Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell all those hundreds of years ago, has been systematically raped, battered and left for dead by career chasing, bent ,traitor politicians, out of touch coppers concerned only with personal nest feathering and a hive of untrained, scruffy, umpa-lumpers turning a blind eye to blatant mini cab touts breaking our laws.
With over 70,000 CCTV Cameras in London, the people who are trained and licensed to use them amazingly fail to see blatant acts of illegal touting taking place. Have half a tyre in a yellow junction box though, or stop for a hail on the zig zags, and witness the camera operators superb training rush to the fore !
Years ago when I trained for the knowledge, I was still in the army. Four years after I started, I was awarded my green badge.
I hardly remember coming down the stairs of the second floor of the hallowed Penton Street clutching my shiny new badge and immaculate Bill.
One thing I remember vividly though was the immense PRIDE. The PRIDE that I had been selected. The PRIDE that I had proved my worthiness. The PRIDE that I had managed to hang on in there, despite the long haul. The PRIDE that I now belonged in the ranks of one of the greatest and respected professions in London. The PRIDE that I was part of London's legacy and iconic status.
But most of all was the PRIDE I felt, for achieving a goal that was respected the world over by everybody who has ever had any dealings with the London Taxi Trade.
Never once though on my way down those stairs, did I ever think, that one day, the very heart of the establishment that we have served so loyally and so professionally for so many years........would not only stab us in the back, but betray us with so much wilful contempt.
I am unsure of what the future of our trade holds for us. One thing is for sure though.
The Men who I first predicted were coming to kill us several years ago........are certainly here now.
If there was ever a screaming case for TOTAL TRADE UNITY............it must surely be now.
Be lucky all .