LET'S ALL TAKE THIS WIN
Today is the culmination of a Driver led five day drive-in at Kings Cross/St Pancras this Spring, and shrewd bartering with Camden Council, during the following months.
Ray Mann negotiated an Experimental Order that was approved in May, and promised to be put into place by mid June. Mid June turned into mid July.
When nothing was done by mid July, another five day demo was called.
Camden pleaded with Ray to speak with the instigators of the demo to call off the protest; with a guarantee that the work for the Experimental Order had been signed off for mid August.
Mid August arrived and the signs went up in Pancras Road, informing the public that work would commence on the 22nd.
A week long protest was immediately called, for Monday 5th September, just to 'encourage' Camden, who have a reputation for reneging on promises.
During the Driver led five day protest, the RMT and LCDC were in full support, and the LTDA had their Advan present.
The demonstrators, who fluctuated between 300 to 500 on any given day, were from all the Orgs and Unions, and some unaffiliated drivers.
We all know who called the drive-in, who wholeheartedly supported them, who participated in the drive-in, who refused to support it, and who claimed to know nothing about it.
We all know who got the Experimental Order on the table, and accepted and finalised.
A mention in dispatches to the RMT's Andy Vito for assisting Ray Mann, must be acknowledged.
Also it would be unfair not to mention the high vis marshalling carried out by the Mayfair Mob, the LCDC and LTDA after the demo.
We also know who stated that an Experimental Order of double yellows, with double blips and signage, was a waste of time, insisting that an airport style pick up and set down zone was the only way.
And we all know that this week saw an unelected quango taking credit for the Experimental Order, once the signs went up.
If they want the 'win', the 'victory' or whatever they wish to call it, let them have it. Who cares?
Does it really matter that the misinformed remain uninformed?
What I can categorically state without fear of contradiction, is that we the drivers who demonstrated for those five days at St Pancras, chipped in to pay all the fines of all the drivers who fell foul of the authorities that day.
It is common practice for driver led protests, to cover each other when Orgs and Unions are unable or unwilling to do so.
All this fighting amongst ourselves is detrimental to the cause.
We all know who physically wins back the ranks, flooding them with cabs, forcing the Scabs off.
We all know who negotiates hard for new ranks.
We all know who called mass demos, stopping London.
We all know who invaded the BBC and got 'Uber rape' into the public domain.
We all know who had seat ads and receipt pads with assault stats printed up.
We all know who got the Freedom of Information rape stats for the trade.
We all know who blew open TfL's Ubergate emails.
As we all know who signed off on a toxic card machine fiasco.
And we all know who sat in silence whilst the London Taxi trade burned, during their time on the TfL GLA board.
You can all take the plaudits, if that is your thing. But you must all take the blame too.
Who cares who gets the pat on the back?
Who cares who points the finger or who is to blame?
All this disinformation is splitting the trade from within. This is far more dangerous than TfL or Uber.
Let us all put the past where it belongs.
And let us join together, fighting a common enemy.
I do not care which Org or Union you belong to. You are a Taxi driver, the finest in the world. I do not care what colour your lanyard is or which political Party you support - you are a Taxi driver.
Let's get the Orgs and Unions to put aside their petty differences and focus on the challenge before us.
Orgs and Unions seem constantly bickering and unsupportive of each other, in a feeding frenzy for membership.
In truth, the Orgs and Unions are your mouthpiece. 'Your' mouthpiece, not theirs.
Tell them what you want. If they refuse to listen, vote with your feet and leave.
Attend branch meetings, and speak up.
Do not be like the twenty thousand apathetic drivers who leave everything to others.
Signing a direct debit and leaving the decisions and proactivity to your Union or Org, is not enough. In fact it is detrimental.
If you remain silent, how are they to know what you want?
How are are they supposed to show force, if you do not turn up?
A driver I'm on nodding terms with, whom I know from many demos going back decades, with Georgie Vyce, Alan Fleming and the like, was receiving a ribbing about his proactivity.
"Citizen Smith" was having the piss taken out of him because he had lost work during the five day St Pancras drive-in.
One jovial antagonist worked out his friend had lost around twenty working hours during that week.
It was all good fun, but one comment struck home: "I don't do demos." said one laughing driver, "They don't achieve nothing."
Although his double negative is true, his shiftless sentiment is all too common amongst the subservient majority.
And then came Smithy's retort, "No they don't. Because wankers like you can't be arsed to turn up."
There is no reply to that truism.
The state of this trade can be summed up by the realisation that only fifty percent of drivers are in a Taxi organisation. The other half remain out in the cold.
We have a newish Mayor of London; Sadiq Khan.
I cannot help but admire a man who has risen to his station from such humble origins. No one gave him his education - he took it. What Mayor Khan has achieved, he fought and worked hard for.
The Mayor of London cannot be bullied; not by us, not by Uber, and not by the Government.
I am not saying that a man like Sadiq Khan cannot be influenced or seduced by promises of higher office, but I believe he cannot be bought off as easily as his predecessor.
Our fight is not against Khan. Our fight is alongside Khan.
It is not about unqualified protectionism. Ours is a righteous battle against Uber; a company totally bereft of any redeeming virtues.
A company globally reviled by good, hardworking people like you.
A company backed by Goldman Sachs, who would skin a turd to turn a dollar.
They are also backed by the Qataris and Google; who will invest in anything, even Uber-rape, in their fight to diversify before their respective bubbles burst.
Often mistakenly viewed as the lowest level; to be a servant is to be of value. To be of service to others.
Otherwise you become insignificant and your existence pointless.
Drivers on social media spout endlessly on about dress codes, credit card machines, brooming, meter rates, etc. They could also help their trade by making sure it still exists this time next year.
People use Uber because of price. A price kept low by deregulation and TfL compliance. This is where we make our stand - the rest is incidental.
Be more proactive, support protests, support a Union or Org, and be more vocal at meetings - to paraphrase JFK, 'Ask not what your trade can do for you. Ask what you can do for your trade.'