Seeing red over yellow

By Jessica Elgot, October 19, 2011

A London cabbie has written to Boris Johnson complaining that a yellow badge he is compelled to display has Nazi connotations.

Melvyn Stanley of the London Suburban Taxi Association said suburban cabbies had to display yellow identifiers issued by Transport for London to differentiate themselves from All London drivers, who have a green badge.

"The Jewish contingent are opposed to the yellow identifiers for obvious reasons," Mr Stanley said. "This brings back horrendous stories which our parents and grandparents told us about."

Another Jewish cabbie, Michael King, also felt the badges were distasteful. "Traditionally there have always been more Jewish suburban drivers. There is a lot of antisemitism in the trade even now and displaying a yellow badge is very uncomfortable. I lost a lot of family in Warsaw during the war and I take a lot of elderly Jewish passengers in north-west London, who wouldn't want to sit in a taxi with a yellow badge on it."

But Alan Fisher, editor of the trade's Call Sign magazine, dismissed the claims. "The bottom line is the difference between yellow and green badges in the licensed taxi trade," he said. "A green badge can take up to four years of hard slog to gain, whereas the yellow version, which covers a suburban area, can take under a year."

After running an editorial on the issue, not one of the responses "came out in favour of Mr Stanley's ridiculous assumption".

John Mason, Tfl's director of taxi and private hire, was "mystified by the suggestion that the scheme is racially motivated.

"The colour yellow has long been associated with suburban drivers and is the same colour as the badge that the drivers wear around their neck. The proposals have been widely supported by Jewish drivers."

Last updated: 12:29pm, October 19 2011