Candidates clash over Uber and EU at London Mayoral tech debate

14:49 10 February 2016

London Mayoral candidates  (left to right) Caroline Pidgeon, Peter Whittle, Sadiq Khan, Sian Berry and Zac Goldsmith at TechDate at Here East in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

London Mayoral candidates (left to right) Caroline Pidgeon, Peter Whittle, Sadiq Khan, Sian Berry and Zac Goldsmith at TechDate at Here East in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park


London’s Mayoral candidates went head-to-head at a special technology debate at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park’s up-and-coming tech hub yesterday.

Conservative candidate Zac GoldsmithConservative candidate Zac Goldsmith

Sadiq Khan and Zac Goldsmith were joined by Ukip’s Peter Whittle, Green Party candidate Sian Berry and Caroline Pidgeon of the Liberal Democrats at the first ever event to take place at Here East’s 950-capacity theatre.

Speaking in front of a crowd of technology experts and enthusiasts, topics ranged from cyber-security and delivering super-fast broadband to Uber and the European Union (EU).

Largely regarded as the two main front-runners, the Labour and Conservative candidates differ on many things but found themselves agreeing on the need for speedy internet.

“Being able to connect digitally is as important for businesses today as being able to get from A to B, physically, so we do need to roll out superfast broadband right across London,” explained Mr Goldsmith, MP for Richmond Park and North Kingston.

Sadiq Khan for Labour speaking at the London Mayoral debate at Here EastSadiq Khan for Labour speaking at the London Mayoral debate at Here East

“TfL has around 560km of network – tunnels, bridges and roads – which we can partner up with the private sector to deliver superfast broadband without costing the public a penny.”

Mr Khan, who had earlier promised to be “the most pro-business Mayor London has ever had”, believes connectivity is as important as running water.

“We should be thinking about broadband like we do about roads or utilities,” said the Tooting MP. “You wouldn’t think about not having water, gas or electricity so we’ve got to change the way we think.

“The quid pro quo of getting planning permission should be delivering super-fast broadband.”

Organised by Tech London Advocates, Centre for London and techUK, the chat soon turned to the app that has taken the capital by storm.

Loved by students but hated by cabbies, car-sharing app Uber has proved a political hot potato and a cause of much debate, although not all the candidates have had first-hand experience.

“I’m not an Uber customer, I haven’t used Uber and I have an emotional reason for that,” explained Mr Goldsmith. “I love black cabs, I trust black cabs and feel a London without black cabs would be a poorer London.

Although keen not to take sides, Mr Khan believes the answer to the solution lies in embracing the tech.

“We can’t pretend the technology genie’s not out the bottle,” he said. “A million people use Uber in this country so we’ve got to make sure the playing field is level, to make it easier for us to use technology with taxis, but we’ve also got to limit the number of private-hire vehicles in London.”

With Britain set to vote on its status in the EU next year, the question of a possible ‘Brexit’ could have a big impact on the borough’s tech companies.

Mr Whittle, Ukip’s culture spokesman and only candidate in favour of leaving the union, argued restrictions need to be relaxed for the rest of world.

“The kind of people that tech industry needs – software developers and engineers – the places where they might come from – India, southeast Asia, even America – they have to go through all these sorts of hoops,” he said.

“If however you’re from the EU whatever your skills, or lack of them, whatever your economic status you have an automatic right to be here and that’s completely distorted.”

Related articles


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Newham Recorder visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Newham Recorder staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Newham Recorder account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Newham News Stories

Yesterday, 17:49
The attack happened in Barking Road Recreation Ground in East Ham between 11pm and midnight

Police are appealing for information after a woman was dragged from a park bench and raped in East Ham on Saturday night.

Yesterday, 15:19
Sadiq Khan at Custom House on Crossrail's Elizabeth Line with 75pc of the 'super tube' project now completed [Pictures: Jonathan Brady/PA]

The Mayor of London has taken a ride on the Elizabeth line – two years before it officially opens.

Sadiq Khan
Yesterday, 13:35
The Emirates Air Line cable cars could soon serve alcohol

Cable car users could soon be sipping bubbly and partying into the night above the Thames under new plans to boost numbers.

Newham Council
Yesterday, 13:22
Delia Stoica from East Ham has been missing for the last eight days

Police say they are increasingly concerned for the wellbeing of a teenage girl who is missing.


Newsletter Sign Up

Most read news


Show Job Lists


You could win £15,000 to spend on either their mortgage or a deposit towards the home of their dreams

Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a period of time when you simply don’t have to worry about finding the money each month to pay your mortgage? When you don’t have to put money aside from your monthly income, or worry about having to afford other essential outgoings?

Read more
Which book character do you share cleaning habits with?

Whether you have more in common with put-upon Cinderella, emotionally turbulent Jane Eyre, or easily distracted Mole, you’re sure to appreciate that one lucky winner will receive four sessions of free cleaning. Enter our quiz for your chance to win. All runners up will get £10 off their first clean when making a repeat booking.

Read more

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Newham Recorder
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now