The Left Book Club is extremely proud to announce the publication of our paperback edition of Gregor Gall’s biography of Bob Crow. Bob Crow was by far the best-known union leader of his generation. He was also the most militant. In the first biography of this towering figure of the union movement, Gregor Gall, Professor of Industrial Relations at the University of Bradford, examines Bob Crow’s leadership of the RMT, investigating and exposing the myths created about him by his political opponents. The book reveals how Bob Crow used his personality, his politics and the power of the RMT membership to punch above his weight in industrial relations and on the political stage, helping the small union become as influential, if not more than, its much larger counterparts.
Deploying an array of source materials and a sympathetic but critical approach, the book traces Bob Crow’s industrial and political development from a working-class London background – with an influential communist father and early experience of unions – to national prominence within the RMT, a fact that can be attribute to his forceful and larger-than-life personality.
As General Secretary of the RMT, Crow oversaw a rise in membership, developing a more assertive and successful bargaining approach with employers and governments. He put the union at the centre of a realignment of radical-Left politics in response to the development of New Labour. Bob Crow may have failed in his ambition to unite all socialists into one party, but he successfully established himself as the leading popular critic of neo-liberalism, ‘New’ Labour and the age of austerity.
He was loved by his members and respected by most trade unionists and those on the left – thousands lined the streets to pay their respects after his sudden death in 2014. Even the Financial Times said he was, “the stand out figure of the UK’s trade union movement; a household name with charisma and clout in an age when many union leaders have become colourless and marginalised.”
This book is an overdue tribute to his work and life and will teach all who read it many lessons. Bob Crow has died, but his legacy will live on.