Sunday, February 28, 2010

Socialist and Gay Rights Campaigner? Guilty and Proud of it!

The Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association (LTDA) seems to have got itself all in a lather about my leftiness. Click here to read the latest issue of their 'Taxi' magazine, and turn to page 3. There you will find the shocking news that (a) I attended a meeting of the RMT London Taxis branch (hardly surprising, as I am the union's Regional Council Secretary, and (b) that I am a socialist and gay rights campaigner.

Firstly, may I congratulate the LTDA for being able to use Google. Secondly, can I assure them and everyone else that I am not in the least bit ashamed of being either a socialist or a gay rights activist, and have never sought to hide either. And thirdly, I'd point out that other than this, there are several factual inaccuracies in the article: the Socialist Alliance folded several years ago, and although I was a SA candidate a few times, I'm not sure I was ever a 'leading member' of it; I gave a brief-ish report to the branch meeting and certainly did not take up most of its time; RMT does not tell taxi drivers not to work during Tube strikes; I said nothing about automatic ticket machines; I did explain why London Underground's attacks on jobs and customer service were bad news for taxi drivers, as when people are driven off public transport and into their cars, taxis lose out too.

RMT's taxi driver members understand this last point, which is why several of them joined the union's Lobby of Parliament against Network Rail job cuts recently. When, around a decade ago, annual multi-fatality rail crashes seriously damaged public confidence in rail safety and therefore caused a drop in passenger numbers, taxi drivers saw a fall in trade from ranks at stations.

Fortunately, leading members of RMT's London Taxis branch see this attack for what it is: an attempt to whip up cheap, populist, right-wing sentiment against what the LTDA evidently sees as a rival organisation. Whichever organisation you think taxi drivers should be members of - whether RMT, Unite or LTDA - I'm sure all Stroppyreaders will agree that this sort of thing is beneath contempt.

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