Ed West Ed West

‘Almost a conservative’ – in praise of Bob Crow, 1961-2014

Very sad to hear of Bob Crow’s death. Doubtless his erstwhile political opponents will be falling over themselves to say that he will be ‘sadly missed’. But I’ve admired him for a while. He was in many ways the last of a breed: a union leader feared by the government.

I used to share the view held by all floppy-haired men in pink shirts, that  Crow was basically a thug holding London to ransom by demanding absurdly high salaries for Tube drivers; blokes who just sit there pushing a button while we hard-up arts graduates slave away for much less money.

Plus there’s the fact that he lived in social housing when he could clearly afford to go private, which struck most as unfair; unless you’re in the Bevanite school of romantic idiocy in which social housing should be for all, and the stockbroker should live next door to the farmhand. (Aren’t we always being told that inequality makes us suicidal and fat? Wouldn’t living next to a banker make the farmhand feel utterly depressed about himself?)

But the more I saw the man, wearing his dapper hats or on a beach holiday (on holiday! Who does he think he is – the Queen?) the more I came to rather admire him.

Tube drivers are of course paid handsomely, but in regards to the recent strikes, Crow actually had a point. (I should add here that I generally cycle to work, because it’s cheaper and quicker, and I appreciate some people don’t have that choice.)

But it’s funny that most people who consider themselves vaguely leftie or at least holding the ‘correct’ views have zero sympathy for the Tube strikers. This extends to when they complain about working on Boxing Day, which to me seems like a perfectly reasonable argument.

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