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Sunday, 18 March 2018

Tommy Robinson Free Speech Falls Flat

[Update at end of post]

After the UK authorities decided they could get on fine without the likes of Martin Sellner, Brittany Pettibone and Lauren Southern, Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson, declared that he would travel today to London to give the speech Sellner would have given, and at Speaker’s Corner. By doing this, he would, he claimed, be “reclaiming free speech”, although from whom was not told.
Sadly, the whole exercise did not go according to plan: Lennon was intending that Lutz Bachmann, founder of Pegida, would be there at the event to read out the mythical speech in its original German. But the UK Border Agency, having been told very loudly and very clearly that Bachmann was intending to enter the country, stopped him at Stansted Airport and he was deported this morning back to Germany.
Lennon was not downhearted, though: he kept on advertising the event, reminding his followers that he would still give the speech at 1500 hours, and that the nearest Tube station was Marble Arch. And so it came to pass that he stepped up to give the speech, and the considerable Police presence standing between him and his pal Caolan Robertson prevented anyone tuning in to hear a word that he said.
Robertson vainly tried to connect a microphone; this, too, failed. All that could be heard was noises off from the crowd, people reminding one another which former politicians were definitely paedophiles, others calling for Lennon to speak up, and finally, after Robertson confirmed that the speech had indeed been delivered, loud but brief chanting in support of whatever it was that had been delivered.
Was that it? Well, Robertson did try and over-dramatically pretend he was being pursued by “Antifa” and “Far left demonstrators” as he left the scene. But the faithful were assured that the speech would be uploaded to YouTube. Which could have been done without going to Speaker’s Corner, or indeed without wasting the time and resources of an already overstretched Metropolitan Police to deal with the crowds - and the fighting.
And as Nick Lowles of Hope Not Hate pointed out, “it's a bit rich of Tommy Robinson to present himself as a defender of free speech after he's spent last 9 yrs not affording same rights to Muslims. He's called for Muslims to be blocked from speaking, new mosques banned and Muslim immigration halted … The only rights he seems to care about are for anti-Muslim haters and German and American racists”.
He also noted that Bachmann is, among other things, a convicted drug dealer. Perhaps Lennon will be going mob-handed to have one of his “polite conversations” with him, or perhaps not. There has been no assault on free speech in barring a quartet of far-right shit stirrers from the UK, no-one prevented Sellner’s speech being delivered, it could have been just put online anyway, and all that we have seen is another publicity stunt.

Many of Stephen Yaxley Lennon’s adoring followers will carry on believing otherwise, and that the Scary Muslims (tm) and Rotten Lefties (tm) are out to get them. More fool them.

[UPDATE 1820 hours: for those who have already claimed this post is lying (yawn), I include two Tweets from someone who was not only there, but very close to where Lennon was speaking.
As can be seen, the person otherwise known as Far Right Watch (Twitter feed HERE) echoed what I posted, telling "As for his speech, his microphone was broken and with lots of chanting, no-one heard a word. But they cheered at the end of whatever it was he might have said".
They added "Apparently it'll be uploaded to YouTube but I couldn't hear him from 6 feet away, so good luck with that. The camera could barely see him".

As I said previously, a publicity stunt. Nothing more, nothing less]

Uber - The Mason Presentation

We now know that it was in late 2013, not just last year, when Transport for London knew that driver and rider matching service Uber was running an illegal show in the capital. How this came about can be traced back to events in 2012, during the Mayoralty of Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, whose tenure of City Hall will go down as an eight-year disaster, as realisation dawns that he was a waste of both time and money.
At the IATR conference that year, John Mason, TfL’s director of London Taxi and Private Hire, gave a presentation, the slide show from which has been preserved for posterity. The subject of that presentation was “There’s an App for that - Supporting Taxi Booking and Hailing Applications in London”. Note the use of the term “Hailing Applications”.
Here, Mason reiterated Bozza’s Air Quality Strategy, part of which was “The Mayor will also support technologies which encourage taxi sharing and enable electronic hailing”, adding “TfL has adopted a ‘hands off’, very limited regulatory approach to the application of electronic hailing and booking” and “Many different companies now entering into the London market with varying degrees of success”.
Note that there seems to be some confusion between “electronic hailing” and “electronic hailing and booking”. Clearly, for anything classed as Private Hire, it should be “electronic booking” and not “electronic hailing”. That may cause some concern in the cab trade; what will cause alarm is the next of Mason’s slides, titled “Open market and competition”.

Here, apps for black cabs are presented along with those which are definitely not for black cabs - Addison Lee, a longstanding Private Hire operator, and there at the foot of the slide, Uber. Presented as part of “Open market and competition”. The one conclusion that is inescapable from this slide is that Uber is pitched as direct competition for black cabs.
And that conclusion is merely reinforced by the next slide, “TfL Approach to Apps”, where Mason starts by restating “Light touch regulatory approach”, and ends with “Let the quality of product and service provided to passengers dictate market”.

So let’s pick the bones out of all that.
Classing Uber, even if only by inference, as “electronic hailing” is totally out of order. That is not what is provided for under Private Hire rules. TfL’s representative is not actually saying they can get away with what they were found to be doing the following year, but companies like Uber don’t need much of a hint. Laws and rules do not get a mention.
Stressing “Light touch regulation” also hints at a free for all. Including Addison Lee and Uber with black cabs is another hint. Having said TfL won’t be doing much regulating, and concluding with “Let the quality of product and service … dictate market” is so close to giving Uber the green light that this appears to be the conclusion they reached.

So when TfL caught Uber operating an illegal show in late 2013, there should have been no surprise. After all, there had been enough nudges and winks the previous year. And the likes of Travis Kalanick needed nothing more, whether it was London, Paris, Toronto, or anywhere in the USA. Bozza was a useless Mayor - and London is now paying the price.

Cambridge Analytica - And The Tories

Tim Shipman of the Murdoch Sunday Times, who is for some reason looked up to by other journalists and pundits, was distinctly unimpressed by the story coming from the Observer over the weekend about Cambridge Analytica. News of the massive data breach was as nothing to The Great Man; he’d seen it all before.
Shippers wanted to know what all the fuss was about. “Every political party in the western world has been using Facebook and its data to win elections since 2008. This has been normal for years” he scoffed, going on to rub it in with “Vote Leave ran a fake football guessing game to harvest data. It’s all in my first book. Every time a political party asks you to reply to an email they are harvesting any data you reply with. This is so unremarkable it’s bananas”. Non-story! And where have we heard that before?
Tim Shipman - and another wrong call

Oh I dunno, how about 2009 when Nick Davies first told the world about the phone hacking scandal? That was a “Non-story” too, until the whole thing blew open two years later, the Screws was closed, the Murdochs’ first Sky bid foundered, then Andy Coulson and his pals got guilty and went off for a stretch in Belmarsh.
Why Shippers is once again shipping an unfeasibly large quantity of bull is not hard to figure out. One, as I noted yesterday, this story has only just got going, and there is a lot more to come. How much was hinted at by Kevin Beaumont, who revealed “This Facebook and Cambridge Analytica story is leading Channel 4 News - C4 News just disclosed they’ve been undercover at Cambridge Analytica filming, they will be releasing footage over the next few days”. And there was more.
Two, David Carroll observed “Alexander Nix summoned back to Parliament to explain misleading statements. [Mark] Zuckerberg invited. Whistleblower, Christopher Wylie invited”. Someone in Parliament thinks it’s serious. But Shipman doesn’t?
Three, although Leave EU and Cambridge Analytica are now claiming they didn’t really work with one another, that’s not what was said in the run-up to the EU referendum, as Isabel Oakeshott explained at ConHome: “[Arron Banks] has drafted in American campaigners Goddard Gunster (who boast of a 90 per cent success rate in referendum campaigns around the world) and Cambridge Analytica, which specialises in targeted voter messaging (and makes similarly impressive sounding claims about hit rates).”
And Four, something that a Conservative-supporting media organisation might want to gloss over right now, the Tories have had their own talks with Cambridge Analytica. We know this as the Mail on Sunday devoted a feature to it, telling readers “Theresa May wants to deploy an army of computerised ‘mind-readers’ to help her win the next Election, sources claim … Tory chiefs have been in talks with Cambridge Analytica, the polling data experts credited with playing a key role in Donald Trump’s presidential victory”.
Plus, guess who was cited? “The British company, run by Old Etonian Alexander Nix, 40, uses computers to ‘mine’ huge amounts of data on voters - including Facebook likes”. That’s the same Alexander Nix who’s being summoned back to Parliament to explain potentially misleading them. Talking about Facebook data mining.

Yet someone out there pretends it’s not a big deal. Hello Tim Shipman.

Top Six - March 18

So what’s hot, and what’s not, in the past week’s blogging? Here are the six most popular posts on Zelo Street for the past seven days, counting down in reverse order, because, well, I have places to go and people to see later. So there.
6 Stephen Hawking - And Politics The physicist, who has died at the age of 76, was not merely a groundbreaking figure in his chosen profession, he was a great campaigner, and indeed an unswerving supporter of Labour and Jeremy Corbyn.

5 Corbyn Migrant Attack WASN’T The SNP went into mischief making mode after Jezza delivered a speech to the Scottish Labour conference. But he wasn’t scapegoating migrants, merely restating opposition to gangmasterism.

4 Britain First Leaders SUED FOR LIBEL Second week on the Top Six for this post - after Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen were jailed, and with another court appearance in prospect, they now face a libel action that could ruin them.

3 Far Right Bigot Barred From Britain The authorities decided that we could get along fine without the presence of Lauren Southern. Cue Alt-Right whinging and wailing.

2 Uber - TfL KNEW It Was Illegal Second week on the Top Six for this post too - information from another FoI trawl shows TfL knew Uber was breaking the rules, and therefore the law, at the end of 2013. Not last year.

1 Corbyn, Tories, Russia AND REALITY Once again, our free and fearless press laid into the Labour leader for being insufficiently bellicose, somehow not noticing that if anyone had a connection to Russia, it was all those Tories benefiting from their money. 

And that’s the end of another blogtastic week, blog pickers. Not ‘arf!

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Tom Tugendhat - Pants On Fire

Perhaps encouraged by BBC Newsnight’s singularly unfortunate Photoshop exercise earlier this week, with its Corbyn-Russia backdrop, some Tory MPs have been getting a little ahead of themselves in their efforts to play yah-boo at the Labour leadership. One of the most eager has been Tom Tugendhat, who was elected to represent the people of Tonbridge and Malling, but has better things to do today than bothering about them.
Tom Tugendhat. Claims to be an MP

Tugendhat, who has inexplicably been given the chairmanship of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, has been an MP since 2015, and has today told the world that he does not merit being one any longer. His method of demonstrating his unsuitability has been to not just smear Corbyn, but do so in a way which is flagrantly defamatory. So perhaps he will be joining Ben Bradley in getting one of those solicitors’ letters.
After his fellow Tory James Cleverly, who isn’t, had a pop at Jezza, saying “Seems that @OwenJones84 is unhappy because the BBC used this photo of Corbyn against a backdrop of the Kremlin. He felt it distorted the public’s perception of Corbyn in light of his very weak response to the attempted assassination in Salisbury” (key Tory attack term “weak” deployed successfully, if ineffectually), he decided to up the ante.
He backed IRA murderers when people who cared about human rights and wanted a united Ireland joined he SDLP. He even went to an IRA funeral. Not really quite the image he wants to portray now”. The “IRA funeral” claim is fake, and the photo used to back up this false claim is probably that of former MP Owen Carron. Tugendhat had blundered. This was pointed out to him. He then failed to withdraw the offending Tweet.
Instead, he blustered “I accept the correction of Corbyn attending an IRA funeral and withdraw that as a mistake. I did not know the photograph had been identified as someone else. I stand by his failure to support the real peacemakers in Northern Ireland”. If he didn’t know the photo was of someone else, then why pretend it was Corbyn? Heck, the photo was taken around six years before Jezza became an MP.
Could it get any worse for The Blue Team? As if you need to ask. Remember James “not very” Cleverly? Just to show how not very Cleverly he was, he Retweeted the offending Tweet, thus compounding the potential libel. Someone in the Tory Party has not been reading up on McAlpine v Bercow, or even Monroe v Hopkins. So that’s another of those solicitors’ letters on its way to the MP for Braintree, hopefully.
Tugendhat has now deleted the offending Tweet, but in the meantime it had been viewed, liked and Retweeted thousands of times in total. The totally untrue claim that Jeremy Corbyn attended an IRA funeral has been spread far and wide - including among at least one suitably credulous fellow Tory MP. Tom Tugendhat is supposed to be a Parliamentarian - not a cheap and dishonest propagandist.

But his party chairman Brandon “barrow boy” Lewis is equally devoid of either spine or principle, so don’t expect their behaviour to improve any time soon. What a shower.

Guido Fawked - Fake News Indeed

While those in and around the Brexit debate digest the news about Cambridge Analytica and that 50-million-strong data breach, somewhere out there on the right there are excuses being readied. Because not only has the Observer’s Carole Cadwalladr been proved right in spades, those who smeared her as a conspiracy theorist have their own questions to answer. And those answers are likely to prove unconvincing.
So who might now find themselves covered in rather more than confusion? To no surprise at all, the answer is the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, whose smearing of Ms Cadwalladr kicked off in no style at all last July as part of a post titledBBC Promoting Cranks And Conspiracy Theorists”.

Here, they told “Last night Newsnight aired a 13 minute video investigating whether Leave.EU ‘hypnotised’ - Newsnight’s word - the British public into voting for Brexit. The package, complete with comically sinister music, was based on a conspiracy theory by a tin foil hatted journalist called Carole Cadwalladr that a shadowy American company working for Leave.EU stole the referendum. This is bonkers. Leave.EU weren’t even the official Leave campaign”. Mental health smear: check!

There was more. “The swivel-eyed Remain media can’t bring itself to believe people voted Leave of their own accord, they want to believe it was stolen. The Beeb is giving credence to a huge amount of nonsense at the moment”. And another mental health smear.

The framing of Ms Cadwalladr as not credible continued later last year with her inclusion in10 People Who’ve Been Driven Mad By Brexit” [mental health smear: check!], alongside Alastair Campbell, who has suffered well-documented depression. Classy, eh?

This time, the schtick was “Cadwalladr appears to genuinely believe Brexit was a Russian plot, she has claimed the Leave campaign used psy-ops to hoodwink voters and doesn’t appear to realise she is being elaborately trolled by Arron Banks and Andy Wigmore who have christened her ‘Carole Codswallop’”. Banksy and Wiggy, eh? Top plonkers!

And the Fawkes Massive was not finished yet. “Last night she suggested lifelong Eurosceptic Michael Gove only backed Vote Leave on the orders of the Legatum Institute, who she reckons are agents of Putin. It’s so ridiculous even Newsnight have taken the piss. The Observer’s continued indulging of her conspiracy theories seems almost exploitative”. Mostly untrue, and tediously so. But not a word chez Fawkes today.
Not even an acknowledgement of Channel 4 News editor Ben de Pear telling “We will have our full interview with @CamAnalytica whistleblower Chris Wylie here http://www.channel4.com/news  imminently with details of the grab of 50 million @facebook profiles and their use by the data firm which credits itself with @realDonaldTrump's election victory”. Ms Cadwalladr was right then, and she’s right now.
But instead of waiting for the evidence, The Great Guido sided with the likes of Arron Banks - a congenital blowhard and liar with a shady financial backstory - and trashed the journalist who has been exposing serious wrongdoing.

Why would they do that? You might wish to ask that - I couldn’t possibly comment.

Cambridge Analytica SUSPENDED By Facebook

[Update at end of post]

It was the company credited with swinging those swing states for Combover Crybaby Donald Trump. Its technology was also credited with swinging the Brexit referendum. But then Cambridge Analytica downplayed its role, and the Leave EU gang, who had been so keen to talk up its presence, also decided they weren’t involved, really. But now Cambridge Analytica is back in the news, and for all the wrong reasons.
The company has had its Facebook presence suspended, which may raise a few eyebrows. Why should a social media provider pull the presence of a company that does nothing more than analyse data? Ah well. After telling “We have suspended Cambridge Analytica from our platform for a clear violation our policies. They cannot buy ads or administer its clients' pages”, the man from Facebook spelled it out.
They certified deleting user data they received from an app developer in 2015 but we have since learned that not all of it may have been removed. This is a clear violation of our policies and terms of service … we are still looking into these issues so will share more as we get deeper”. It’s a data breach. And it’s a serious one.
Facebook’s official statement explains “In 2015, we learned that a psychology professor at the University of Cambridge named Dr. Aleksandr Kogan lied to us and violated our Platform Policies by passing data from an app that was using Facebook Login to SCL/Cambridge Analytica … Kogan requested and gained access to information from people after they chose to download his app. Approximately 270k people downloaded the app”.
And what was that information? “In so doing, they gave their consent for Kogan to access information such as the city they set on their profile, or content they had liked, as well as more limited information about friends who had their privacy settings set to allow it”.
So what action was taken when this was discovered? “By passing information on to a third party, including SCL/Cambridge Analytica … he violated our platform policies. When we learned of this violation in 2015, we removed his app from Facebook and demanded certifications from Kogan and all parties he had given data to that the information had been destroyed. Cambridge Analytica, Kogan … certified to us that they destroyed the data”.
There may be trouble ahead ...

Except CA did not delete all that data. And for anyone still shrugging shoulders and responding “so what?”, both the Brexit referendum and the US Presidential Election came the year after Facebook discovered the violation, and CA said they’d deleted the info.
... and someone will be facing the music very soon

So the not-actually-deleted data was still there during those campaigns. That, folks, is why this discovery matters, why it is a big story, and why you should be concerned. And just how big a story we will find out very soon. How that might occur cannot be told at present, but Carole Cadwalladr of the Observer has mused “Waking up to the news that Facebook has suspended Cambridge Analytica today? TWO YEARS after it discovered massive data breach? Wondering why now? Answers coming soon”.

Ms Cadwalladr’s paper comes out tomorrow. I’ll just leave that one there.

[UPDATE 1400 hours: tomorrow's Observer feature has been made available online already, and in it Carole Cadwalladr reveals that the personal information of more than 50 million individuals was harvested and used improperly in what must be one of the biggest and most embarrassing - for Facebook, at least - data breaches ever.

Most of those whose data was harvested were registered US voters. Confirmation has come from a whistleblower, who has passed what he knows to the National Crime Agency's cybercrime unit and the Information Commissioner's office.

What information might have been harvested on voters in the UK is not known. But what can be told is that the Observer article is only the first instalment: there will be more from other media outlets very soon.

Those who sneeringly labelled Ms Cadwalladr, and others involved in bringing this story into the open, as mere tinfoil hat conspiracy theorists were plain flat wrong. And embarrassingly so]

BBC Newsnight - We Have To Talk

This blog prefers to give the BBC, and indeed all mainstream broadcasters, the benefit of the doubt, even when claims of prejudice and bias are swirling around. Most of the time, the Corporation does its best to steer a path free of partiality, and succeeds in its efforts. But one part of its reporting on the fallout from the Salisbury poisoning has given cause for concern. And I have to tell the Beeb that the concern is justified.
While the Government, cheered to the rafters by the right-leaning part of our free and fearless press, has wasted no time in pointing the finger for Sergei and Yulia Skripal’s poisoning with a nerve agent from the Novichok family straight at the Government in Moscow, and in the wayward world of former very occasional London Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, straight at its head, Jeremy Corbyn had urged caution.

The Labour leader has pointed out that Novichok nerve agent may have fallen into the hands of one or more of the mafia organisations that have sprung up since the collapse of the former Soviet Union; it has already been admitted by the Government that Novichoks can be manufactured in more or less any suitably equipped laboratory.
For this caution, Corbyn was instantly vilified by the right-wing press, the Mail and Sun asserting that he was in hock to Vladimir Vladimirovitch Putin. Terms such as “puppet”, “stooge”, and “appeaser” were deployed in support of these claims. The BBC should have been aware of the sensitivity of the subject when Newsnight came to cover it.

So the dismay expressed by many, and not just on the left, at the deliberate linking of Corbyn and Moscow, was entirely understandable. There was presenter Emily Maitlis, in a studio whose backdrop was, as Billy Connolly once put it, loaded. A supposed vista of Moscow sights, with Corbyn front and centre, with even his usual headgear changed to make him look just that little bit more Russian.

Coming hot on the heels of that morning’s papers and their incendiary headlines - the Sun’sPUTIN’S PUPPET” and the Mail’sCORBYN, THE KREMLIN STOOGE” at the forefront - there can be only one message being conveyed here, and it is that of Jezza siding with not just a foreign power, but the gangsterist Putin rĂ©gime.
What did not help the Corporation was when the following night’s show, still with the faux-Moscow backdrop, had Evan Davis countering Owen Jones’ arguments in support of the Labour leadership by saying “but the public support Theresa May by two to one”. We should now decide foreign policy stances on instant poll ratings and take our cues from organisations just as adept at mafia-style behaviour as that in Moscow.

The BBC cannot always get it right; that is understood and some slack should be cut it on those occasions. But that Newsnight backdrop was not an accident. It was a deliberate linking of Jeremy Corbyn and the Government in Moscow.

Newsnight got that call seriously wrong. And that’s not good enough.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Red Roar Exposed As Fawkes Offshoot

Recently I checked out The Red Roar, a site covering Labour-related issues, which was in reality doing little more than attempting to put the boot into anyone and everyone who was not opposed to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. The thought occurred at the time that this operation may have some link to the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog. Now that thought has become a racing certainty.
The Red Roar’s latest outpourings are all that The Great Guido might have wished for: “Student Trotbusters”, “SWP Links”, anti-Semitism allegations, Labour NEC election claims - note that, like the Fawkes massive, The Red Roar missed Jon Lansman bowing out of the contest - kicking Momentum, and accusing Left New Media sites of spreading conspiracy theories. It’s not about Labour, it’s about Labour bashing.
It’s almost as if the Fawkes blog had farmed out the hatchet jobs on Left New Media to someone else - with one addition, the use of the fictitious term “Alt-Left”. There is, as any fule kno, no such thing as the “Alt-Left” - it’s a term coined by right wingers to suggest that the Alt-Right, which most certainly does exist, is just part of some political equivalence, and that those Rotten Lefties (tm) are equally bad. Oh what a giveaway!
And as if that were not enough of a sign that this is not a site Of The Left, but merely one that is sounding off about it, the Fawkes rabble has started endorsing The Red Roar, and not merely occasionally. A notable example is the sneering at LabourList for allowing Diane Abbott to be guest editor, which is held to be a move to the left (?). The post tellsThe only up and coming Labour leaning site that doesn’t support Corbyn is Red Roar”.
Note that a shit-stirring site kicking the Labour leadership is being pushed as “an up and coming Labour leaning site”. Like heck it is. Another endorsement from The Great Guido is where the Fawkes rabble reinvent the deselection of Robin Wales as Mayor of Newham as “Momentum have deselected Labour’s moderate Mayor”. This is the usual bullshit, as Tom Copley AM has had to point out. And guess what? “Red Roar has the numbers”.
The Red Roar also gets one of those prized mentions in the Fawkes “Seen Elsewhere”, probably the major source of clicks to sites like the desperately dull Conservative Woman, which would be in dire straits without them. Expect the site to get more of those in future, as it ramps up its attacks on the Labour leadership and tries to find Momentum reds under each and every bed. And that means only one thing.
The Great Guido and The Red Roar are linked - maybe deniably, but linked they are. Attacking Left New Media using terms that would never be used by anyone to the left of the Tory right is just one giveaway of many. Being used by the Fawkes rabble as part of its attack-dog approach is another. If it walks like a Fawkes operation, quacks like a Fawkes operation, and smears like a Fawkes operation, it might just be a Fawkes operation.

All that is left now is for clueless Tory MPs and their pals in the Pundit Establishment to start quoting The Red Roar in the same reverent way they quote the Fawkes blog.

The Red Roar is a Fawking cuckoo. So don’t let it into your nest, Labour people.

Evening Standard - Aka Uber PR

Earlier this week, I noted that the Evening Standard, supposedly London’s evening newspaper, had not so much as peeped about recent revelations concerning driver and rider matching service Uber. The paper’s editor, the Rt Hon Gideon George Oliver Osborne, heir to the seventeenth Baronet, was, after all, most likely party to the Downing Street decision to shill for Uber when he was still Chancellor of the Exchequer.
And what is now clear is that, far from just ignoring bad news about Uber, the Standard is going much, much further - it is actively shilling for the company, in a manner that is clearly intended to make Uber a part of Londoners’ lives that they will not want to see taken away any time soon. The partisan behaviour is rapidly getting beyond occasional, and beyond a joke. There is no shortage of recent examples of this shamelessness.

Last month, for instance, Standard readers were toldTaxi-hailing giant Uber on Friday moved to improve its tarnished image by lending an ear to its drivers … A handful of drivers will meet with peers every week to gauge sentiment about new products or decisions that affect them, and then meet with senior Uber executives to fight their corner”.

Fight their corner” my arse. And it got worse later that month with blatant PR spin “Taxi giant Uber’s new boss said on Thursday he wants to tighten its grip on public transport as it grapples huge losses … Chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said the firm could branch into buses and bikes.  ‘I want to run the bus systems for a city,’ said Khosrowshahi at a conference”. Run a bus service? I wouldn’t let the SOB run the proverbial whelk stall.

And worse, with more PR spin “First it was cab rides and then restaurant food deliveries. Now Uber is making a surprise move into the hairdressing game - with an app that allows time-poor London women to summon a professional stylist to the comfort of their homes … The service promises that a customer will be under the blow-dryer within half an hour of tapping on their smartphone screen”. Advertorial. Masquerading as “tech”.
Could it get even worse? Toe-curlingly worse? Worse than the worst thesis submitted to the University of Worstness? You bet. “You might already know this, but it's St Patrick's Day this Saturday (March 17) which means everyone is trying to cash in on Ireland's patron saint … The latest culprit is our dearly beloved Uber Eats who have teamed up with Barburrito to create Guinness burritos”. That’s a straight-A f*** right off.

Can’t the Standard actually report news on Uber, rather than running promotional material and passing it off as “innovation”? Oh, hang on, yes there is! “Birmingham wants clarity from Uber on its business model as it decides whether to renew the taxi app’s license after granting a temporary extension”. But don’t worry, Uber fans, it’s not all bad news.

Uber has made a series of changes to its business model in recent months, responding to requests from regulators, including the introduction of 24/7 telephone support and the proactive reporting of serious incidents to London’s police”. See? Everything is cool. Just ignore all those doomsayers pointing out that the app is universal, and the idea it’s been re-engineered just for London can’t be trusted unless the software is re-checked.

The Evening Standard - the press equivalent of “La la la I can’t hear you”. Thus the challenge for London’s cab trade - when the only local paper is in Uber’s pocket.