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Bob Crow - Six Lessons To Remember His Fighting, Militant Legacy By

06/03/2017 15:04
Nick Ansell/PA Wire

Bob Crow, the former RMT union general secretary, died at the tragically young age of 52 three years ago this week. In some ways, the world has moved on apace since he died on 11 March 2014 - with the arrival of the Trump presidency, the Brexit vote, Corbyn as Labour leader and so on.

Crow would not have been surprised by Trump's victory given the very limited positive changes brought about by Obama. He would have voted for Brexit given he believed the European Union was a capitalist club. But he would have been surprised by Corbyn's election as he wrote off Labour long ago as being incapable of delivering socialism.

But in other ways, these are just variations of existing themes during the life of Crow. Capitalism continues, the rich get richer, the poor poorer, neo-liberalism still reigns and so on.

What is the legacy today that Bob Crow leaves after having been general secretary since 2002? That strikes work and build union memberships? That leaders can inspire their members? And that the radical left cannot unite?

Here are just a few of the lessons from my biography of Crow called Bob Crow - socialist, leader, fighter which is published this week by Manchester University Press, priced £20 , see http://www.manchesteruniversitypress.co.uk/9781526100290/

First, right wing reactionary forces will gain a following amongst workers when the radical left is divided and ineffective. The left must be credible not just in it politics but in also in its personnel and organisations.

Second, the job of being a union leader - at whatever level - is to impart collective confidence and certainty in members - the confidence to fight and the certainty that the battles can be won.

Third, identify where the weak links in your opponents' chains are and target them ruthlessly. So knowing the 'where', the 'when' and the 'how' become critical.

Fourth, innovate so that old tactics are refreshed and become more powerful. For example, a 24 hour strike held over two days (12 noon to 12 noon) causes more disruption than a simple midnight to midnight strike.

Fifth, be prepared to work with others but always be prepared, if need be, to rely upon your own members and don't let others in the union movement hold you back from pushing forwards.

Sixth, unions that stand up and collectively fight and win for their members - especially through their members' own actions - are a very attractive proposition. This then becomes a good recruiting sergeant, leading to a virtuous circle where a stronger union recruits more members, and when mobilised, attracts more members.

These and many more lessons are contained in the biography itself.

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