Uber and the Tories: you read it here first

28 Mar

An Uber Protest in Portland, Oregon

Over the last few days, a number of stories have appeared in the Daily Mail and Financial Times which show that a cosy relationship existed between ultra-aggressive libertarian mini-cab firm Uber and PM David Cameron. The stories say that Boris Johnson, as mayor of London, was lobbied to leave Uber alone by its European head of PR, Rachel Whetstone, who is godmother to Cameron’s son, Ivan.

These revelations will come as no surprise to subscribers to our weekly newsletter. Back in June 2015, I wrote the following:

A couple of weeks ago, Boris Johnson was making anti-Uber noises. Lately he has stopped, and when a cabbie called him out on the streets of London last week, he shouted “f*** off and die”, which to me sounds like he is protesting too much.

Why is he leaving Uber alone now? Our guess is Rachel Whetstone, Uber’s new head of communications in Europe, who is reportedly on a million quid a year. She is besties with David Cameron and comes from good libertarian stock: her mother was further to the right than Mrs Thatcher, and her grandfather, Sir Antony Fisher, founded the Institute of Economic Affairs and many other libertarian think tanks. He did this with the fortune he had made from selling factory farmed chickens in the UK. So her politics fit in very well with the dominant political philosophy of Silicon Valley, a sort of winner-takes-all-monopolist-libertarianism which purports to be about freedom, but which is really about the freedom for some geeky freak to create a global monopoly, buy a yacht and f*** high class call girls because they don’t have time for a real girlfriend.

My guess is that Dave and Rachel have asked Boris to leave Uber alone. Whetstone’s politics conveniently fit Silicon Valley’s agenda like a glove.

It’s funny that Rachel, black cab wrecker and destroyer of friendly guilds, is married to Steve Hilton, the Tory party PR guy whose new book is called More Human: Designing A World Where People Come First, the most meaningless title ever invented. Talk about bad grammar! Not that I’ve read it, but I already agree with Joseph Stiglitz, who said it was complete drivel. If the title doesn’t put you off, then the fact that the cover quote is from the bafflingly successful Arianna Huffington should do. She says: “A very timely book and a powerful call for change.”  Amazing how this nonsense sells. 

Andrew Keen [the author who attacks the digital monopolies] said [at an Idler event] that we need more regulation of the Internet. There is no way that Cameron is going to regulate Uber, given that he, like Whetstone, who left Google to join Uber, has his tongue right up the posterior of Silicon Valley.

What surprises me is this: if I was able to spot this very obvious link on my own, how come no newspaper has gone near the story till now, with their teams of reporters? How come the gutless Guardian didn’t run it? And will we hear about it in the Evening Standard, now edited by arch-libertarian Silicon Valley arse-licker George Osborne? After all, Black Rock, who he works for, is a major investor in Uber.

Also now on the board of Uber is the above-mentioned Arianna Huffington, who gave Steve Hilton such a glowing encomium for his book. I suspect she is pals with Rachel as well. So this is the way the world works. An oligarchy of well-connected people exploit the desire for freedom among immigrants and make packets of money for themselves.

Anyway, looks like the hubris which we predicted would be coming Uber’s way is finally happening.