Bob Crow: old-school union boss

Bob Crow, the general secretary of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, died of a heart
attack on 11 March. He was 52. Public figures of all political persuasions, including the prime minister and the mayor of London, paid tribute to the rail union leader, who only last month oversaw the latest Tube strike.

What the commentators said

The respect and affection triggered by his death is hardly surprising, said Matthew Norman in The Independent. “Living under the dominion of beige technocrats, as we have these past 15 years, we crave vibrant colour in public figures.” There was a “simple, inescapable authenticity” about Crow.

He was a “real, old-fashioned union boss”, said Isabel Hardman on Spectator.co.uk. He cared only about deals for his workers, not about “wider political machinations” in the Labour movement. His focus on his members “without much regard to anything else”, including regular rage from commuters, paid off handsomely for them. In 2011, he secured a four-year £52,000 basic pay deal for Tube drivers. Whatever you thought of his priorities, he did the job he was paid to do, and he did it extremely well. “He succeeded as a union leader”, agreed Dan Hodges on Telegraph.co.uk. “Very few of the current crop can say the same.”

Crow was also refreshing, said The Daily Telegraph, because he was a socialist who didn’t subscribe “to the new left’s snooty disdain for materialism”, as his own lifestyle demonstrated. He said early this week that he was worth his £145,000 salary. He was right.

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