British rail union denounces Blair as 'war criminal'

Michael Keaney michael.keaney at
Thu Jul 3 01:41:47 MDT 2003

Richard Harris writes:

What amazes me is that a union lead by Crow could wait until now to think of
the MILD move of considering saying that the New Labour party does not
represent the interests of the working class.  Do RMT leaders not read New
Labour party election manifestos?  Did they not understand why clause 4 (a
clause backing Lassallian nationalisation of the key areas of economic life)
was removed from the New Labour party programme.

Oh dear!


Richard, to be fair to Crow he is working within constraints. It is one
thing to be the nominal leader of union but the union must still agree to be
led, and having one person at the top calling the shots is not in the best
traditions of workers' democracy, however enlightened that person might be.
The union executive, as I recall, was split over Crow's succession of the
more conventional Jimmy Knapp, and so Crow will have had to conduct trench
warfare within the RMT to get it officially to even acknowledge the problems
you highlight. Meanwhile Crow has kept a fairly high profile with what
remains of the Labour left (i.e. Socialist Campaign Group).

I think Crow understands the issues you raise all too well. The problem is
how to engineer a policy change within an organisation structurally tied to
a party whose history pre-Blair still offers many some hope (however
deluded) that the working conditions of rail workers in particular will
improve as a result of the re-creation of British Rail. Some hope of that,
but having bided his time and having been able to demonstrate the clear
difference between New Labour and e.g. Ken Livingstone on this, he is able
to carry his executive in backing the latter at the expense of the former.

It must be extremely frustrating to have to spend so long arguing the
obvious to the wilfully blind and deaf. But it is encouraging that Crow
seems to have the support of the rank and file membership.

Michael Keaney

More information about the Marxism mailing list