The following is a readers letter submitted to the News and Star:
Bob Crow and Tony Benn will be laid to rest this week, but their fight
for workers' interests and for a better - a socialist - society is being
taken up by a new generation.
Bob's determined, uncompromising leadership gave his union members
confidence they could successfully defeat employers' attacks on their
living standards and conditions of employment. The recent London
Underground strike forced the arrogant Boris Johnstone to back down from
sacking tube station staff and endangering passenger safety. Passengers
also support his RMT's call for the nationalisation of the chaotic
Bob proved in the figures of jobs saved and £s gained (a 22% rise for
poverty waged cleaners) that fighting trade unionism wins - hence the
increase in membership from 50,000 to 80,000. No wonder members of some
other unions whose living standards have slumped due to their officials'
belief in 'social partnership' with public and private employers wish
they had leaders like him.
Bob fought for all members of the working class, getting a vote carried
by the TUC conference for a one day general strike against austerity and
cuts (the TUC leaders are still sitting on it!) and setting up the
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition to fight for a new workers' party
when New Labour expelled the RMT. At the coming council elections TUSC
will field the largest list of candidates to the left of Labour for 70
Tony Benn became a socialist after experiencing first hand the ability
of working people to efficiently and democratically run their workplaces
when the Glasgow shipyard workers occupied their yards, threatened with
closure, and completed the production of ships under workers' control.
He saw in practise that socialism could work, for the benefit of all. He
subsequently supported the miners' fight for jobs and the socialists of
Liverpool council who refused to carry out Tory cuts.
In his heart Tony had left Labour (or rather, Labour left him) and
appeared in an election broadcast for Bob Crow's 'No2EU-yes to workers'
rights' list, but didn't leave formally to avoid a family split in old
age (his son is a Labour MP), but his belief was clear: "New Labour has
come out more violently anti-union and anti-left than for many, many
years. Constituency parties are no longer on the left because all the
decent socialists have left, so its a Blairite rump."
Miliband even refused to attend the Durham Miners' Gala with Bob Crow or
Tony Benn, but the Socialist Party was proud to fight alongside these
two men of principle and will carry on their fight.