Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Some Thoughts on Bob Crow

Hemingway wrote whilst standing up. He wasn’t the only writer to do so. Perhaps it accounts for something special in his writing, his characteristic stocky phrases or the muscular pull of his lines. I don’t write standing up but perhaps the next best thing is to write whilst sitting on an uncomfortably hard chair since my usual perch is currently in pieces in the back room alongside the remains of a broken drill which I’d destroyed trying to remove a hardened steel bolt that had sheared off in its hole.

Yesterday was a hell of a day, a long run of blistering bad luck and ugly turns that ended in Manchester where I was forced to buy a new power drill. Even with the right tools, my chair is still unusable and work is now backing up. I have a website to build, a video to fix, and a cartoon to draw before tomorrow’s deadline for the next issue of an LFC fanzine. Two paragraphs into the day and my back is already aching from the hard plastic sticking under my shoulder blades.

Yesterday was also a bad day because it was the day I heard that Bob Crow had died. I suppose if it weren’t such a tragedy that he died only 52 years old, I wouldn’t actually write about Bob Crow except I had recently found myself warming to him. That’s not to say I didn’t find something comic in seeing a union leader enjoying the high life. In many respects, I viewed him like I view George Galloway, though perhaps with less overt comedy. Yet seeing Crow on ‘Have I Got News For You’ recently made me reassess my attitude towards these leftward firebrands. The same goes for Dr David Starkey on the right. It’s easy to mistake everything they say for the worst things they say. Or sometimes it’s hard to distinguish the sense from the way they expressed that sense. I do think it’s a crazy world in which the driver of a largely automated Underground train is earning more than a university lecturer who contributes to world knowledge. It’s that kind of detail which made it easy for the Tory commentators to mock Crow, as I saw Andrew Pierce doing on Sky News on Monday night.

In that sense, Crow and Galloway have always been a blessing for the right. They were easy to lampoon and their worst foibles distracted from the very great sense they sometimes spoke about the rights of workers. It would be foolish to deny that Britain is a country ruled by a rich Eton elite yet populated by a majority of people too distracted by X Factor finals, mobile phones, and American ten pin bowling to actually care about that bias. To his credit, Crow did care, as I’m sure Galloway also cares. That’s why I’ll miss Crow. He was one of the few public figures to express an opinion which was precisely that. It wasn’t a party line, a faecal crumb of marketing detritus put out by some central office. Right or wrong, he was one of the few actually happy to go on TV and express an opinion that he knew would alienate some. That’s rare in politics as it’s rare on TV, where the middle ground is worn flat by a million bland heels.

But at this point I have to stop. I would write more but my back hurts. This chair gives spasm-inducing discomfort and there is one less person fighting for my rights as a worker.

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