Posts Tagged ‘Bob Crow’

Please, let’s remember Tony Benn and Bob Crow for who they were, not bland Diana-fied national treasures

14/03/2014, 10:32:06 AM

by Atul Hatwal

To hear tributes to Tony Benn this morning and Bob Crow earlier in the week, is to enter an alternate reality, one of saccharine reflection and anodyne dolour.

In the myriad of CGI memories that are being publicly broadcast, the defining characteristic that made Tony Benn and Bob Crow national figures is all too often omitted: threat.

There are lots of committed socialists who lead their lives, unflinching in their beliefs and whose passing is not remembered.

What made Tony Benn and Bob Crow different was that they attained positions where their proximity to power meant they threatened the status quo in their respective worlds.

Threat isn’t a bad thing. It’s the essential precursor of change and both reveled in their ability to threaten the established order. But it brings with it costs: confrontation, fear and anger.

To overlook the visceral conflict which both generated is to suck the vigour and colour out of their professional lives. Without at least acknowledging this threat, the commemorations lapse into the North Korean.

We remember Tony Benn and Bob Crow because they were men of consequence. For many that consequence was far from benign. In the case of Tony Benn in the early 1980s, it threatened the future existence of the Labour party.

Both men were comfortable with confronting opposition and crushing it under foot. They were there to fight and be fought.

To recall the passion, bitterness and division does not sully their memory. Quite the reverse. It is why they are remembered, because they mattered and people cared enough about what they were doing to get involved, either for or against them.

The Dianafication of the deaths of Tony Benn and Bob Crow is perhaps the least fitting tribute possible to the lives they led. They were not bland national treasures but powerful and threatening political figures.

Along-side the warmer words about their personal virtues, it’s worth remembering this. For people in the business of attaining and wielding power, such as Tony Benn and Bob Crow, to adapt a common refrain following Diana’s death, it’s what they would have wanted.

Atul Hatwal is editor of Uncut

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The real scandal of the tube strike is that we’ve stopped defending the right to strike

06/02/2014, 03:43:50 PM

by Sam Fowles

In my attempts to subvert the south west London blogger stereotype I’ve abandoned my usual method of writing these things (MacBook in Starbucks). Unfortunately I haven’t found anywhere I like quite as much as Starbucks (I know they don’t pay any tax but I just really really love those blueberry muffins) so I’m typing this on my iPhone on Putney Station platform. Essentially I’ve just reduced the size of the Apple device and got colder. Today I am eternally grateful to Bob Crow and the RMT for giving me the extra time to write as, thanks to the tube strike, every train has been full to bursting and I’ve now been sat here for 45 minutes. I’d also like to pass on my sincere thanks for finally providing me with the opportunity to quote The Amateur Transplants in a post. So here goes: “I’m standing here in the pouring rain…” (If you don’t know the rest go listen to the actual song)

Apparently I’m not the only one inconvenienced. David Cameron is calling on everyone from Ed Miliband to the Pope (probably) to condemn the “Union Barons” (TM) who are “holding the capital to ransom”. Boris Johnson apparently refuses to negotiate  with a “gun to his head” and everyone agrees that the Tube is vital to the London economy and thus stopping it working is a terribly bad thing. This argument might seem a little less hollow had the government itself not cut funding for this supposedly vital service by 8.5%.

This isn’t actually going to be a post about the tube strike. Even though it’s vying with the Mutiny on the Bounty and the Spartacus Uprising for title of “Worst Handled Industrial Dispute in History”.The only thing more amateur than the industrial relations of this dispute is the reporting. A strike represents a failure in negotiation of both labour and management. If Johnson and co really think that keeping the tube running is that important then they should have made more effort to negotiate a settlement. I’m just an (increasingly damp) observer but if Bob Crow won’t negotiate until Johnson agrees to postpone the order his proposed changes and Johnson won’t negotiate until Crow postpones the strike can’t they just postpone them both and stop bitching at each other on LBC?

But there’s a wider point to be made here. The tube strike has thrown up all the classic arguments about “holding the country to ransom”, whether the unions control the Labour party and why strikes should be banned. Of course, none of these would pass scrutiny in a sixth form debating society but apparently they’re good enough to be trotted out by the leaders of the land.

That said, for the less analytic minds out there:

1. Accusing Unions of “holding the country to ransom” when they go on strike for two days is incredibly hypocritical when bankers threaten to flee the country permanently and en mass whenever anyone suggests they should pay a fair share of taxes.


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