Straight as the crow flies – an appreciation of Bob Crow by Rodney Bickerstaffe

Bob Crow, dead at 52: an open, short letter to a long list of closed minds
– to all who despised Bob Crow, because he spoke truth to power and believed there was a better and fairer society out there to be won.
– to the bosses and senior hirelings who stuff their bank accounts with impossibly earned salaries, bonuses and share options.
– to those who talk of “our country” yet practice blackmail, threatening to or actually moving factories or head offices, to other parts of the world for personal and corporate advantage from low taxes, chaotically light regulation or slave labour.

– to whoever says that country and business suffers from days lost through strikes, yet ignore the millions of years work being lost because of unnecessary unemployment.

– to any who scream about occasional delays or added hours of travel to work caused by protesting underground or rail workers, with no thought for hundreds of thousands of our young people who are delayed for years in getting to work.

– to the privateers, dipping and slithering their hands into the purse of public assets – transport, health care, education, energy, water, civil and local government services.

– to those hypocrites demanding corporate subsidies or tax hand outs, as they secrete millions through dodgy accountants in trusts or foreign havens and declare war on the welfare state.

– to those who undercut or oppose a decent, ethical minimum wage for workers, when even Churchill in one of his brighter moments said “the employer who cannot pay a living wage should not be an employer”.

– to the sharp elbowed parents taking from the common weal, as they scramble for places in inappropriately titled “free schools”, as children in some areas risk lifelong ruin from education cutbacks.

– to all who undermine what Bob Crow stood for – strong, free, responsible, independent trades unions as a cornerstone of any proper democracy.

– to real bullies in power, in politics, at work.

– to those who speak no ill of the dead, but who try today to gain some halo effect, by showing their current respect for Bob and his efforts, when they held a drill to him in his life.

– and to others in that minority of our nation, who daily deceive and cheat on the majority.

To whom this letter may concern (and you will know in your hearts who you are).

You may know that Bob Crow, General Secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union, has sadly died at the early age of 52 years.

From a working class family in a working class area, he had no private tutors, went to no prep school and didn’t have any elitist “public school” education. He had no elocution lessons.

He started working at 16, labouring, so that trains would run safely and promptly. He remained in the Transport industry his whole life.

Self – taught, he was a natural opponent of fascism, racism, war, and warmongers. He thought through issues for himself. He was his own man.

An average of his annual wages over his 36 years of work must be laughingly low. He fought for others before he thought of himself.

For those others, his members and their families, he was hard-working and militant. Striving for their better wages and conditions, he was often strident and successful, though never as successful as many of you to whom this note is addressed.

Consistently true to himself, his class and to his causes, Bob called himself a Communist/Socialist.
I hope you catch the drift of this letter. It’s for the record. Yes some small tribute to him, but chiefly to tell you that Bob Crow was a much, much better human being than you. Am I being spiteful? Possibly. Am I being truthful? Absolutely.

Enjoy what time is left to you. Bob Crow has gone.

Sincerely, Rodney Bickerstaffe

PS Bob sometimes wore a flat cap and always supported Millwall Football Club. And he’s still better than you.