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Bob Crow & Tony Benn

31 March 2014

We mourn the passing of two great allies of our union.

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Photo: © Jess Hurd / reportdigital.co.uk

Bob Crow, 1961 – 2014

It is with great sadness that we mark the passing of RMT general secretary Bob Crow, who died suddenly, aged 52.

Bob Crow was born in Shadwell, East London in 1961 and grew up in Hainault. After leaving school at 16, he joined London Transport, initially as a member of a tree-clearing team. In 1983 he became a local rep, soon rising to become national officer for track workers in what was then the National Union of Railwaymen. After the merger which formed the RMT, Bob was elected to represent London Underground members on the National Executive in 1991 and was then assistant general secretary until he succeeded Jimmy Knapp as general secretary in 2002.

Bob is survived by his partner, Nicky Hoarau, a son and three daughters. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and all our brothers and sisters in the RMT at this difficult time.

TSSA’s former general secretary Gerry Doherty remembers the Bob Crow he knew: “The first time I met Bob Crow he had hair, that’s how long I’ve known him. The news of his all too early, sudden demise came as a shock but not, to be honest, as a huge surprise. I remember, a number of years ago he and I were returning to London on a late night train from some engagement or other when he confided to me that he regarded the job of general secretary as being ‘a young person’s game’ given the amount of
travelling and the stress involved. He confided that it was his intention to leave the job before it took its toll on his health. Sadly, he never got there.”

“Since his untimely passing, I’ve been asked more than once, ‘What was he really like?’. My immediate response is that he was nothing like the image the right-wing press liked to paint. Sure he was abrasive at times, loud-mouthed, maybe, but absolutely committed to the cause and more than able and willing to debate his corner with the very best of them.’

“He and I didn’t see eye to eye entirely on politics but neither were we hundreds of miles apart. We both shared the political goals of a safer, more equal, better world, where respect, tolerance and a shared humanity meant more than power, money and position. We just didn’t agree on the means of achieving such a utopia.”

“Don’t ‘rest in peace’, brother. Wherever you are, agitate, aggravate and organise! When will we see your like again!”

Donations in memory of Bob may be made to the British Heart Foundation at http://lastinghope.bhf.org.uk/bobcrow

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Tony Benn, 1925 – 2014

Tony Benn, a strong friend of TSSA and leading advocate of the public ownership of our railways, has passed away aged 88. The span of his parliamentary career, from 1950 through to his retirement ‘to devote more time to politics’ 51 years later, saw him involved in almost every labour movement struggle of the latter half of the 20th century.

After leaving parliament, he inspired people of all generations to struggle for a more just and democratic society and world. As he told TSSA Journal after addressing TSSA conference in 2008, “Democracy transferred power from the wallet to the ballot. But privatisation is transferring power back from the polling station to the marketplace.” He will be sadly missed.
 

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