TfL's decision to ban Uber may have come as a surprise to trendy Londonists, and Hoxton's artisanal cupcake bakers, but to economic historians, the drama highlights the extraordinary policy continuity of what we used to call "London Transport".
Politically, the Uber ban is a powerful reminder of Labour's return to its traditions as the party of trades unions and public sector vested interests. Sadiq Khan and Jeremy Corbyn have both sought to exploit Uber's reputation as a buccaneering and somewhat distasteful example of American venture capitalism, intent on world domination and monopoly, but many people will have forgotten that TfL's own roots are in just such a company.
The organisation that we now call "Transport for London" is the direct successor to the UERL - the Underground Electric Railways of London - set up by American capitalists in 1900 to construct the deep level tube lines. When these investments failed to deliver the expected financial bonanza, new management was installed, led by Albert Stanley, the British-born general manager of the Public Service Company of New Jersey (which shared many of the same backers as UERL).
UERL's capital was restructured, and the company embarked on a path of aggressive expansion - buying out the District Railway in 1901, taking control of the three private tram companies, swallowing the Central London Railway and acquiring London's largest bus company (the General) in 1912.
When London General itself faced disruptive bus competition from new entrants in the early 1920s, it branded the entrepreneurs as "pirates", bought many of them out via a secretive intermediary, and lobbied aggressively for new regulations to limit their operations.