Bow Crow (13 June 1961 ? 11 March 2014), secretary of the militant Rail & Maritime Trade Union in Britain passed away early morning, March 11th. We here publish an obituary written by our member Will Howley.
He was only 52 when a massive heart attack robbed the British Trade Union Movement of one of its most colorful characters who was much maligned by the Tories, the mainstream media, and even those on the left where he put himself. At 16 Bob joined London Transport in 1976. And so became a railwayman for life.
He rapidly got the reputation for being a member of the ?Awkward Squad?, a title I also share with pride. As he said only yesterday in a rare interview on BBC radio 4, ?Yes I was gobby [mouthed off], I was not flash, I hated that?. Always distinguished by his colorful flat hats. Between 1985 to 1995 he was a member of the British Communist Party. I met him when Union leader Arthur Scargil of the National Union of Mineworkers who coxed him to join him in leaving the Labour Party to form the Socialist Labour Party. A project he left and the SLP failed and has less than 200 members today. He went on to form, with the Socialist Party, NO2EU. A political Party or movement that was against membership of Europe. He controversially endorsed the reintroduction of the Death Penalty. Many on the left were critical of his anti-immigration stance.
His union, the Rail & Maritime Trade Union (RMT) had left the Labour Party years ago as had other trade unions like the Fire Brigades Union. He was seen as resolutely left wing and proudly said “I’m a Socialist and a Communist”. He was liked and disliked but not in equal measure. He was more liked than disliked, even by the public who were recently disrupted by the RMT strikes. Popular among ordinary people because he sounded genuine, some of his language was a bit out of date, but he made up for it with rapier like wit he unleashed on opponents who attacked him. People who were not in the RMT of the labour & trade Union Movement liked him because he was a larger than life character that was not in the mould of the current same-ol-same-ol New Labourites.
He was very rare as he lived in the same Council house, till his death, all his life. His residence in the Council home was the subject on many Conservative and right-wing media attacks, along with his salary of 150k Euros per Annam, or his holidays in the Caribbean days before strike action. All the attacks were designed to maligned him and lose credibility in the eyes of the public, but their attempts had the opposite effect. He was seen as a good advocate for his member?s and one story I picked up said much about him: ?An RMT tube driver in a claim for unfair dismissal where we were alleging the dismissal was due to his trade union activities. Bob Crow was a witness in this case because he had personally conducted the final appeal. How many other general secretaries of trade unions would have done this??
Bob Crow was a Socialist Trade Unionist, though today, by many, he would be seen as the last of a breed that has passed. Straight talking obviously working class and known to be loyal to his members who liked and trusted him. I wrote on many Facebook Wall?s this ?RIP, I had difference with him politically, but this is not the time. And as he said ‘If you ask anyone do they know the name of trade unionist, if I?m not mentioned in the top two the person probably cannot name a third’?
Rest in Peace Big Man!