Tuesday 11 March 2014


I was going to say that I didn't know Bob Crow personally,  that I knew him in a comradely but distant way ("professional" is so much a bosses' word that I could never say it here,  but it was in our working lives that we met).

But then I thought about it,  and I knew as much about him personally as I needed to know.

As a 24 year old first time delegate to the TUC,  at an evening Reception that I had not exactly been invited to,  the best known General Secretary in the Trade Union movement broke off a chat he was having with someone I didn't know to tell me how much he had enjoyed my maiden speech to Congress.

He spoke to me about what I had said,  and told me that I had said it well.

That means a lot. He was in his own time,  I wasn't part of his Union,  but he felt it was important to talk to me. That is all I will ever need to know to know that Bob was special.

In an era where the media decry trade unions as an archaic irrelevance, they could never say that about Bob. His force of character and strength of belief,  backed up by an amazing membership who understand solidarity like no other made him the target of opprobrium, yes,  but never accusations of insignificance.

Bob and the RMT had a symbiotic relationship, each strengthening the other,  and in an age when few Trade Unionists are household names,  Bob was a brand of his own,  the conscience of a class and a nation, unassailable and erudite without softening his diction or doffing his bunnet.

We still have fine leaders in the movement,  and Bob,  who was never one to steal the limelight in my experience, would say that he was only who he was because of the organisation behind him,  but the loss of the one household name in the movement will leave a gap.

RIP,  Brother Crow.  You fought the good fight.

No comments:

Post a Comment