Wednesday, 28 December 2016

GREEN IS THE COLOUR

RACIAL OR RACIST PROFILING?

There has been wide speculation and varied reactions to fighting which broke out between Somali and non Somali drivers at Heathrow airport, on Christmas Day.
The question of whether or not some Somali drivers are Yellow Badge holders, has been brewing for some time.
Now drivers are being tagged 'racist' for bringing the subject of suspicious goings-on, to the attention of the authorities.

Sometimes people confuse a racial comment with a racist one.


Tagging your protagonist 'racist' is a weapon used in abundance, since Labour scared the bejesus out of the Tories, for playing the immigration card, during the 1997 election.

Remainers use it to demonise Brexiters.

The misuse of 'racist' tagging, is the new authoritarian gagging order.

I believe we are all racist, sexist, and autistic; it is just a matter of degree.
The fear of being 'tagged' is what allowed Rotherham, Rochdale, minicab rape, unsustainable mass immigration, etc., to happen.

True racism is born through fear and ignorance. Both can be reversed with positive education.


I remember a friend of mine pulling the race card on me in St George's shelter one day.
Lester, who is black by the way, was losing an argument and said "Well Lenny, I didn't realise you were a racist."
He thought that would put me on the back foot and expected me to defend myself. He'd obviously used that tactic before.
I replied "Like I give a fuck what you think."
Disarmed, Lester continued our discussion on an equal footing.
I cannot remember the specifics of our debate, or if anything was achieved, but I know he appreciated my honesty.

The truth can be both hurtful and emancipating, but it cannot be racist or sexist or any other 'ist'. Sometimes something is best left unsaid, for reasons of tact and diplomacy.

Lester stood up in my absence and steadfastly defended me once. He shut an entire shelter up in my defence.
He's retired now. And I miss his humour.
He was one of the least racist man I ever met. But he was astute enough to understand 'racist tagging' and its power.

My philosophy is, refuse to acknowledge any tag someone tries to attach to you; they are only trying to deflect your argument.

We all know real racism, institutionalised racism and passive racism exists. Just nip the ugly thing in the bud.
But crying 'wolf' and tagging someone a racist because you have no answer to their argument is in itself racist and dilutes the fight against real racism.

People I never considered overtly bigoted, had seizures when a Muslim was appointed Mayor of London.
Khan may or may not be up to the task, but his religious beliefs are not a problem.

I remember a cabbie known as 'Jewish Dave'. Ironically there was no other Dave who frequented the shelter.
That is what I call 'innocent bigotry'.
We are all guilty of some form of bigotry, but I judge by intent. Malice is what I base my judgements upon.

We must not let the fear of tagging get in the way of real debate and concerns.
As for Heathrow; it is not about the colour of their skin, but the colour of their badge.


I'll end with this:
If someone starts a sentence with "I'm not racist, but ..." They are most likely racist. They just don't know it.

Monday, 12 December 2016

A SYMPATHETIC EAR

THERE ARE NO VICTIMLESS CRIMES

Base jumpers know the risk. Uber users do not.

I know many Taxi drivers feel they are on the brink of an abyss; especially at this time of year. But let us not become like Uber executives and blame the victims.

At the moment Uber are trying to apportion part of the blame for physical and sexual assault onto the victim. The victim may have flirted or wore provocative clothing, or puked in the car. None of which are grounds to get physical with the passenger.

Being part of the Gold Standard carries huge responsibility.
Let us not lower ourselves to Uber's level.
Very few people know about Uber's toxic track record.
If an Uber customer is fleeced or abused, it is not their fault, but that of Uber.
So let us show all victims of Uber, sympathy.

Freedom of choice. Every person has the freedom to choose their mode of transport. Be it Uber or the bus, or Taxi or cycle.
We should show compassion to Uber victims, not disdain.
Even base jumpers deserve our respect.

See here for Uber: Don’t touch or flirt.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE BACKWARD

WASHING MY HANDS OF 'MAD DOG'


Dear Ms Street-Porter,
I have no idea how to contact you, so this is the best I can do.
I believe I know why you wrote that piece about DDD, and I empathise.
I empathise because a cab driver pestered a friend of yours.
I have had to block that same driver from my phone.
He is an incessant pest.
He is not a part of DDD. Nor do I know anything about the USA version.
My friend and I came up with the name over fish and chips in Whitecross Street.

DDD is not about Uber. It is about TfL deregulating the Private Hire industry to appease Uber. Therefore background checks are not as stringent as they should be. Male and females have been attacked as a result.
Uber are not so much a threat to Taxis, as they are to other minicab companies.
The threat to the Taxi is TfL's mismanagement of our roads, leading to a high volume of congestion. Nothing to do with DDD.

I am not here to apologise for someone else's actions. And believe me, I sympathise with your colleague. Her protagonist is as thick skinned and backward as you will ever find.

You have written your article, which I agree is straight about most things.
We all have to bare the burden of Warboys.
As you know, there are nasty bastards in all walks of life. Seventeen police officers committed rape during this past year. Paedo rings involving prominent MPs, judges, doctors, celebrities, milkmen, postmen, etc.
A Taxi driver was charged with rape in 2014.
It is not about the odd teacher or priest, it is about the scale of rape and sexual assault by TfL licensed minicab drivers in London alone.
Getting into a minicab or Uber does not have to be dangerous. If TfL are backed by this Government to do proper background checks via a minimum of a three year DBS, most of these sexual and physical assaults can be avoided. This is exactly in line with Mayor Khan's wishes.
The scale of minicab rape is backed up by a Metropolitan Police freedom of information application, and acknowledged by Sadiq Khan during his Mayor's Questions by the GLA, earlier this year.
Staggering statistics, I know. It was a shock to us too! This is why we organised Dads Defending Daughters.

I do not have to discredit Uber, they do that to themselves, all across the globe.
Uber will never go away. They will just become another AddLee, when they are regulated.

As for DDD's hidden agenda, we simply do not have one. No egos, no sought after limelight. Nothing other than the desire to inform the public.
The media refuse to acknowledge the problem. Murdoch scuppered the story. The BBC remains silent (nothing new there).
You are not the first to question our motives. And why not? Our aim comes across as obvious protectionism. I can see that. Val Shawcross views us that way too.
I personally do deal in protectionism, but not under the guise of the DDD. The DDD is pure of heart.

We can talk about a corrupt TfL, the 'Great Bus Scam', the CSH, the mismanagement of building sites and roadworks that are affecting and destroying our city and my trade. But that has little or nothing to do with DDD.
I honestly believe Uber has had very little impact on my pocket.
I do not hate Uber drivers. I know they are as much victims of Uber as their rivals. But neither do I feel sympathy for them.

When Uber are toeing the legitimate line, and TfL have been made to take their duty of care seriously, DDD will be satisfied.
Although, I do see a problem with an understaffed and under policed 24 hour tube.

Kind regards,
Lenny Etheridge

Click here for Janet Street-Porter's article.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

COUNTING SHEEP

DO YOU TAKE CASH?

In a situation where tourists ask "Do you take cash?", and shoppers wonder why the queue at the check-out takes so long: I ask, how did plastic become the new paper?
And why would Transport for London fool the public into thinking they have the right to pay by any means they wish and the business owner has no say in the transaction?


TfL are very anti cash. If you want to hop on a bus with cash, forget it.
If you do not have a card or you are overdrawn, you have to purchase an Oyster card in a shop. Yes walk away from the bus, watch it drive off, and go purchase your Oyster.
I know you are confused, but this is TfL we are talking about, and they do not think like you and me.
TfL are not the only culprits. Councils like the 'convenience' of plastic too. Try parking your car without a smartphone or money in your account.
When I say 'convenience', I mean convenient for the Council, not for the consumer.

Taxis are the last bastion of consumer choice. For decades Taxis have been accepting both card and cash, for their customers' convenience.
So why are the likes of TfL and Westminster Council pushing so hard to for a cashless society?
Firstly you have to look at who gains from a plastic economy.

The reason card payments are being foisted as the only way to pay José, is so some fat phuk can sit sucking on his Cohiba, with a flute of Gout de Diamants in one hand, and an under-aged Russian prostitute in the other, sunning himself on his yacht in the South of France, as five percent of everyone's spending makes its way into his offshore account, without him have to put his champagne or child bride down.
Cash is no good for his lifestyle. He would have to start working for a living. And his Swiss banker would stop inviting him around for Christmas on the piste.


Back home his minions in Parliament are encouraging debt, and educating trendies on how entering your card and then your PIN and then wait for clearance, is so much more convenient than that dirty money with its meat based fivers.
What a job, hey?
Sitting there on your yacht, waiting for the suckers to start spending.

Once the 'suckers' have paid their 'income tax' and their oxymoronic 'value added tax', they can then pay more for the privilege of spending their own hard earned non-cash.
And if they run into debt, because they are uncertain of how much they actually possess, they can use their plastic credit to bide them over till the end of the month; at a reasonable rate of interest of course. Deemed reasonable by your mate on the yacht moored next to yours.
What a great scam, hey?
But would anybody fall for it?
Maybe not. But you can dream can't you?


Dream of a land of blinkered sheep.
Spring lambs, whose only worry is where they are going out on the weekend.
Or the muttons dressed as lamb, who buy bacon by the slice, and live in perpetual debt.
And then there are the tups, who believe they have everything sorted, who don't own their house so much as it owns them. They got on the treadmill years ago and they will keep pushing themselves until it finally kills them.
Sheep literally dying to pay for your newer, bigger yacht.


Wake up!
The wolf is at the door.

Monday, 28 November 2016

A LIFE WORTH LIVING

EVERYBODY HURTS

Some of us have been to 'that place' and back. And some sadly never made the journey home.
I am fully aware of the pressures some drivers are under. I remember only too well, in fact.
I am determined this will not happen to any driver on my watch!
Young drivers with mortgages/rent, cab rent/HP, young children, wolves knocking at the door, with no hope and no sight of an end to it, haunts me still.
I will not stand idly by while girls are being attacked and raped, because of deregulation, via greed.
I will not stand idly by and watch the destruction of my fellow driver, because of deregulation, via greed.


Christmas is an emotional time of year. The Samaratans claim it to be their busiest period.
Work as hard as you can. See Christmas through. Remember, those who love you need you more than they will ever need anything else.
Those of us with responsibilities will have to carry our burden with a smile, for the sake of our loved ones. Give them a wonderful Christmas. During Christmas, take note of the people around you, they are what count, not material things.
You are a team, one unit, you and your family will gain strength from each other.
I sincerely hope you enjoy Christmas.
Amid all the chaos of Christmas Day, take time to live in the 'now'. Enjoy the present, even if it is a fleeting moment before the chaos begins again. This is real life. A life worth fighting for. A life worth saving.

For those drivers on their own, I know this is a difficult time. I know it hurts.
Sadness can overwhelm us to the point of destruction. Yes we cry, and those of us who are broken cry at the drop of a hat - this is natural.
We can all get through this together. If you know me, or know what I look like, stop me for a chat. We can turn all that is negative into positive, I promise you.


In the New Year, we will be bringing the fight to them.
Even if you feel Shawcross and Khan will do the right thing, we need to aid them, by bringing attention to our plight.
Demos cost those who would see us deregulated.
Get the message out there to every cab driver. For some of our colleagues, this is literally a fight for our lives.
We will shame all who caused this, all who refuse to help, and all who fail to take up arms and protest.


We will fight this tooth and nail!
We will leave no one behind!
We will win!

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

BROWN TRIES GIVING US THE RUNAROUND

KEEPING OUR ORGS FOCUSED

Yesterday's protest was an action to keep the Orgs and Transport for London on their toes and to let them know, in no uncertain terms, we are far from satisfied with their performance and results so far.


We arrived at Windsor House at 16:00.
Leon Daniels passed by, down the side of Windsor House, and kindly informed us that the venue for the 'Cabbies Cabinet' meeting was being changed to Palestra House.
So we shot over to Palestra, in time for the meeting.
A fortunate chain of events really. Steve McNamara and Helen Chapman met earlier, and obviously thought they could outflank London's finest, until Daniels spilled the beans.
Fortunate because from initial clear blue skies, the heavens opened up.
Palestra gifted us with some much appreciated shelter from inclement weather, which Windsor House and 230 Blackfriars Road do not possess.



Ninety percent of the protesters were able to park up and grab their placards.
It was extremely windy and a little fresh, but the crew showed their Dunkirk spirit. Chanting, chatting and slapping their placards Zulu style, keeping the mood jolly, the protesters were not going to budge.
The meeting went well over an hour past schedule, but the protesters remained steadfast. We were determined to find out exactly what was said upstairs and what the three Org leaders had to say for themselves.

Steve McNamara came out with Jim Kelly, just ahead of Grant Davis.
Kelly had nothing to say, as usual.

McNamara flimflammed and went into his usual non informative, well-rehearsed rhetoric. Applying the Oddy method of using the protesters' disdain to stop speaking, and moving from one awkward question to another without actually answering anything. It is an art-form, and I was also impressed by the way he positions himself as the innocent victim, trying to reach an audience who refuse to listen. Listen to what, exactly? The art of speaking, but actually saying nothing is a sight to behold.
The protesters grew tired of McNamara meaninglessly twittering on, and handed the microphone to Davis.

Davis told the concerned audience exactly what had gone on in the Cabbies Cabinet. Most of which can be found in Mayor Khan's 'Action Plan'.
For those who have not yet digested it, the Mayor promises to give us what is already ours, with a few bits of tinsel added to jazz it up and look like a package.
Sadiq also promises to lobby for the stuff that is not already ours - because that stuff is out of his hands. So ... back to where we were with Boris Johnson then.

Davis held court for quite a while, with even his biggest detractors hanging on his every word. He spoke without interruption; informative and enlightening, Davis gave everyone who turned up a feeling of hope.
We were listening to a man who fully understood what we want from our Org leaders. A full time Taxi driver who knows about our problems, and who feels our pain first hand. Someone who is willing to go that extra mile to try and right the wrongs done to us by TfL and co.
I must say, most drivers were impressed by Davis and his passion.



The most impressive display of the day belongs to the protesters themselves; resolute and able to improvise and adapt to any situation.
Well done to the 'Usual Suspects' who attend every protest and demo. It is an honour to stand shoulder to shoulder with you. No matter what TfL try to do to combat our resolve, you stand fast and act quickly.
Respect!