London’s Uber Ban Shows the Evils of the Nanny State


Transport for London – the local government authority responsible for regulating transport in the greater London area – has recently made the decision to not issue a license to operate the taxi service Uber. London Mayor Sadiq Khan of the Labour Party has stated that he is in full support of this decision.

This comes on the back of claims of security concerns, such as background checks for drivers and the way Uber reports crimes.

It’s no secret that Uber has had its fair share of controversy. Even South Africa has had a few instances of crimes committed by Uber drivers, but the London bureaucrats’ decision to stop allowing the service to operate is – to paraphrase Frank Zappa – “like treating dandruff by decapitation.”

SEE ALSO: Uber: Taxis must grow up by Nicholas Woode-Smith

This is an app which has allowed people to live their lives without a car, and reduced the temptation of driving while intoxicated due to the convenience of getting a taxi. It also provides a freelance mode of employment which is particularly useful for immigrants, of which London has many. The response from the left have been accusations of exploitation and lack of responsibility for its customers.

As usual, the paternalistic leftists constantly claim to fight for workers’ rights. If only they also fought for workers’ right to  choose when and how they work without state interference. In this case, they would rather see Uber drivers unemployed instead of driving under conditions which unions and Labour Party bureaucrats consider ‘immoral’. All too often it is through licensing laws in which governments are granted powers to deny businesses legal operation. Governance like this is the kind of condescending paternalism supporting the notion that self-employed adults cannot make decisions for themselves and need a nanny state to do so. As a result, Uber drivers in London will soon have to start looking for other jobs, or leave the city and work elsewhere.

SEE ALSO: Südafrika Uber alles? No, we’re giving in too by Martin van Staden

The great thing about free markets is that when companies like Uber do come under fire, competition arrives to keep them in check. Through the profit motive, the market regulates itself. If it is known that Uber is unsafe to use, consumers will simply use a competitor like Lyft. If Uber continues to be unsafe, they’ll stop getting business. Unfortunately for London’s Uber drivers, the government has made a regressive decision that just banned the whole company.

The notion that we need a paternalistic state to tell us what we can and can’t do is a dangerous one which hands far too much power to government. For any freedom-minded person, this is an illegitimate decision in which the state has decided that ‘it knows best.’ Hopefully, Uber and other ride-sharing companies will be plentiful in London once again.