Friday, June 12, 2009

Do unto Bob Crow as Margaret Thatcher did unto Arthur Scargill

Bob Crow, former Communist and present leader of the RMT, is bringing London Underground to a standstill – again. He did it in 2004. He did it in 2007. He almost did it last year, and now he’s doing it this. Apparently, he has an icon of his prophet Arthur Scargill on his bedroom wall. He kneels before it every night and fondles his prayer beads as he intones ‘Bless me, Father, for I have not crossed a picket line.'

And while he meditates upon the ineffable ecstasies of his Elysian Union bringing the great city of London to a halt, there is chaos for commuters: workers crowd onto humming buses; roads are gridlocked as more traffic spews out more noxious fumes; shoppers sweat laden with their accumulations; and the tourists just give up and walk.

Mayor Boris, of course, has a helmet to cover his blond mop and a bike – a proper aerodynamic machine with thin racing tyres – permitting him to dodge buses and lorries and even the occasional red light.

While the Mayor still arrives on time, thousands of businesses are adversely affected. The whole inconvenience is estimated to have cost London around £100,000,000

But Bob Crow has a problem: his is not the only union for London Transport. And as drivers from ASLEF choose to cross RMT picket lines, his disciples may well be wondering why they are following him into the wilderness. After all, they already earn £40,000 a year – significantly more than teachers, nurses and policemen. And their financial sacrifice does not diminish the income of the Crow household one penny. Indeed, Mrs Crow is very conveniently employed by the RMT to run its credit union, and her business must benefit as Mr Crow’s members face increasing hardship.

Bob Crow is a bully. He is far less interested in negotiation than he is in intimidation. And when the economy of London largely depends on the efficient functioning of the Underground, he takes great pleasure in holding management and politicians to ransom, forcing them to accept his obnoxious brand of disruption.

But here is an opportunity for Mayor Boris in what must be the biggest challenge he has faced. It is not one for him to cast himself in iron and acquire a handbag: he is unique and affable – quite capable of out-smarting the RMT while simultaneously charming its innocent victims. Ken Livingstone would probably have had Bob Crow over to City Hall for beer and sandwiches. And then he would have caved in and given his comrade everything he demanded.

Margaret Thatcher ended this militant mentality.

Mayor Boris was elected govern. With ASLEF crossing picket lines and an estimated quarter of RMT staff reporting for work, the political battle has already been won. The problem is the false prophet, crowing about solidarity and victory while millions of Londoners endure purgatory.

There is little public sympathy for train drivers on £40,000 a year who, in the midst of Gordon Brown’s credit-crunch-induced recession, are demanding even higher salaries and a guarantee of jobs for life. Mayor Boris cannot sack them all, but he can break the ringleader. He may not have a handbag, but the victory over Bob Crow was won on the playing fields of Eton.

Boris Johnson has strategy, tenacity and charm. Bob Crow is a mutton-headed, plug-ugly hooligan. The Mayor will not be held to ransom by militants, but neither can he afford to wait for a Cameron-led government to introduce a law banning strikes by essential transport workers. As 2012 approaches, he cannot risk the whole Olympic project being subject to Mr Crow threatening to bring his members out on strike in order that Mrs Crow may dish out more credit.

The Mayor ought to order an immediate feasibility study into the introduction of driverless trains. It is puzzling that an aeroplane can cross the Atlantic entirely on autopilot, but a journey from Piccadilly to Heathrow is not possible without a man pushing buttons and pulling levers. This development is not only technologically possible, it would provide the Mayor with the mechanism for threatening to make striking drivers lawfully and legitimately redundant. And then he must consider privatisation of the whole outfit, for London Underground sustains the pre-Thatcherite feel of British Rail, British Airways or British Leyland: the moment a reform is proposed or a pay demand refused, the Crow-cry (after a ballot) is ‘Everybody out!’, even if the majority of members have not even bothered to vote.

Mayor Boris was elected to govern, and so he must. Cranmer feels sure that what the Mayor learnt on the playing fields of Eton fully equipped him to deal decisively with those who bully and blackmail. The common good is the greater good. He must do to Bob Crow precisely what Margaret Thatcher did to Arthur Scargill. That would be moral, noble, righteous and just.


Blogger Gnostic said...

You are not the only one to think this way, Your Grace. I found this at Devil's Kitchen this morning. Scroll down to London Underground.

12 June 2009 at 10:08  
Blogger Gnostic said...

As for driverless trains, Your Grace, let's hope that if such a thing comes about none of the incompetant IT companies currently favoured by government are given the contract for the onboard computers. Regular system crashes are one thing. Train crashes are something we can do without.

12 June 2009 at 10:13  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

You're joking aren't you. The way they balance the wheels on those tiny, narrow tracks at 70mph in the dark ... they must have incredible hand-eye co-ordination and nerves of steel. Got to be worth £40k pa if you ask me.

12 June 2009 at 10:36  
Anonymous Bob Frost said...

Your Grace, driverless trains seem to work a treat on the Docklands Light Railway (and as an added bonus if you get the seat at the front you can pretend you are driving!).

12 June 2009 at 10:41  
Blogger ProudGeordie said...

Your Grace,

Privatisation is a mortal sin. The commuters would be held to ransom by the board of directors rather than the union bullies and champagne socialists. TfL should indeed be nationalised and run for the benefit of the travellers, not the union reps. Driverless trains are a fantastic idea, the Mercedes S class can come to a complete stop at a junction following the car in front, surely a train can follow rails on it's own! Indeed a cars speed can be governed by it's GPS, the technology is there.

You might find this link to be of interest

12 June 2009 at 10:53  
Anonymous Yokel said...

Automatic train systems already exist, and have been used on the Underground for many a long year.

The first experiments were on the Central line between Leytonstone and Hainault. That was in preparation for the Victoria line that was introduced as automatic train operation, but reverted to driver control over the years.

The most recent upgrade of the Central line introduced automatic train operation throughout the line. It is most un-nerving to see a train enter a platform at a fair old speed with the driver reading his official paperwork and his feet up on the desk, but I have seen it! In fact if too many drivers try to drive their trains the old fashioned way, they cause a queue as they cannot keep to time.

So the line that Bob Crow will be pushing is that we need a fully trained driver on board each train "just in case", in the same way that he tells us we need staff with their banal & repetitious announcements on the platforms "just in case".

The Underground can be run without staff other than for maintenance, programming, and pressing the "go" button at the start of the day. The technology is already there. All that is needed is the money to invest in the technology throughout the system, and the willingness to confront the robber barons (sorry: union leaders).

12 June 2009 at 11:13  
Anonymous Sir Henry Morgan said...

" That would be moral, noble, righteous and just."

Don't know about that, but it would be fun to watch. Stock up on popcorn.

12 June 2009 at 11:51  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember voting for Mrs Thatcher mainly to stop Scargill.

12 June 2009 at 12:00  
Anonymous eeyore said...

Your Grace will recall that before Mrs Thatcher disembowelled the miners, she took pains to lay in a huge stock of coal at the power stations. She also gave socking pay rises to the police. He will also remember that earlier in her premiership she declined a proferred run-in with the miners, her arrangements not being ready then.

Her unlamented predecessor, Mr Heath, suffered disembowelment himself when he took on the miners (under Mr Gormley) without these soldierly precautions. But he was a frightful ass, wasn't he?

The moral: Boris cannot fight the forces of darkness without weapons, and they will take some time to manufacture. Until then, one fears, Crow's feathers will remain unplucked.

12 June 2009 at 12:10  
Anonymous Penny said...

"There is little public sympathy for train drivers on £40,000 a year who, in the midst of Gordon Brown’s credit-crunch-induced recession, are demanding even higher salaries and a guarantee of jobs for life"'s not all Gordon's fault, Your Grace, but I agree that demanding more dosh during a recession - and when your current pay is not exactly a pittance - is
unlikely to create sympathetic feelings amongst the masses. And where is it writ that there shall be jobs for life? The current mantra is 're-train' (no pun intended)for it is likely that one set of skills will not endure for life much less one job.

12 June 2009 at 12:23  
Anonymous Voyager said...

former Communist

No such thing as Peter Mandelson can testify

12 June 2009 at 12:24  
Blogger ooberLib said...

Postal Strike coming up soon also. Maybe in a few years postmen will be dispensed with and all mail will be electronic.

I wonder if anyone will come up with a virus that barks at your email?

12 June 2009 at 12:25  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace,

With the EU’s CHARTER OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS – industrial unrest is set to get worse:

Art 27: Workers' right to information and consultation within the undertaking.

Art 28: Right of collective bargaining and action.

12 June 2009 at 13:09  
Blogger peter_dtm said...

Automate the Underground ?

dead easy - traffic lights are; all modern planes are; all factories are; even the newspapers are !

Honeywell; Rockwell; Siemens; Emerson; Yokogawa; I am sure all would be more than happy to enter a bidding war. I bet most of the equipment is already there to - just needs programming.

Its not rocket science to do (in fact rockets are automated too)

What sort of Luddite would try and stop this ?

oh yes Bob Crow; a man of the 60's; antiquated class warrior who lives like a union boss (I'd say king but he's a republican; and union bosses live better than kinks !)

12 June 2009 at 13:43  
Blogger Microcosm said...

In crypto fascio/commie Britain some folk just don't seem to know when they have finally got their just desserts.

Don't the Police have the powers to gun him down in cold blood for being a suspected nuisance in the tube station.

12 June 2009 at 13:55  
Blogger Frugal Dougal said...

I wouldn't like to see a totally automated underground just yet, but this eejit is bringing the possibility very close very quickly, and perhaps that's why picket lines are being crossed.

12 June 2009 at 14:11  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your Grace will note that not only are the Central and Victoria lines automated - the role of the driver being reduced to simply operating the doors - but the Jubilee line will have a similar system fitted and operational by the end of this year with the Northern and Picadilly lines to follow in the years to come.

The fact that 'drivers' demand above-inflation pay-rises when they already earn well above the average, with an astonishing 43 days annual leave, is nothing short of farcical. Particularly given that their role in actually driving the train is being removed.

12 June 2009 at 14:29  
Anonymous Old Grumpy said...

Your Grace - beats me how anyone on £40,000pa for driving a train can think they're hard done by.

The word "greed" does spring to mind.

However, is it any different from dear old Fred Goodwin? (one hopes his knighthood might be revoked in due course) the UK's favourite banker with his £703,000 pa pension....and his refusal to hand any of it back except under duress.

The £703,000pa is, of course, not for driving trains, an occupation which might at least be considered a socially useful way to spend the day....but for sitting at home doing nothing after very successfully breaking the Royal Bank of Scotland and requiring us as taxpayers to fund his mistakes for him to the tune of....what is it? About £40b?

Put in those terms, Mr Crow and his crow-nies might seem to be quite modestly cheap and eminently reasonable people.

I fear that greed stems from the top downwards, not necessarily from the bottom upwards, and that it is all a part of the same human condition.

There is a mindset here which won't be satisfied with any level of monetary recompense, and it's one shared by bankers and train drivers alike, white and blue collar. And although they initially demand more because they can, not because they must, after a while, they do demand more because they must.

The New Testament could offer all these people some helpful tips as to how to be happy with what they have. Contentment is good for the soul, and whilst we might all agree that petty jealousy isn't exactly good for it, either, I don't see why we should have to fund either Fred Goodwin or Bob Crow with their adrenalin greed habits

12 June 2009 at 14:37  
Blogger Dave H said...

"Bob Crow, former communist..."

Former? I think you'll find his communist beliefs are very much intact, though he may not be a current member of certain communist organistations.

12 June 2009 at 16:08  
Blogger ooberLib said...

Slightly off topic, but part of the whole debate I suppose, but this has just popped up on my blog in the Google Adds:

The New Party: "We offer something different...reality."

12 June 2009 at 16:53  
Blogger ZZMike said...

40kP works out to $(US)65,400/year. But then, surely they have to work long hours in hazardous conditions. And even that isn't much to live on in London.

But they do have to put up with a 35-hour work week.

A commentor on the UK Guardian site writes:

"The average UK salary is £23K."

Most of the other comments are not supportive of this strike.

12 June 2009 at 18:29  
Anonymous Got the Guts to wear God said...

Yes, Scargill was a bully boy sitting pretty while his members couldn’t afford to put food on the table. Didn’t he pay his mortgage off while leader of the miners union? Unions are big business. They are not interested in their members. Members are forced into striking, forced into paying?? Tyrants…what is democratic about being forced? However, Thatcher was so off the mark when it came to the working class. She had no idea of what it was like to feed a family with a paycheque that was literally hand to mouth. She was certainly upper crust and could afford bread that dictated as much. I have little time for unions or Thatcherism. It’s like everything. The idea behind the union is great on paper but unfortunately, the leaders change the rules here and there to suit, well themselves of course and their bank balance…and let’s not forget their expenses. Delve into union expenses. Oh yes, the members money really does go into some dodgy dealings.

That anyone feels it’s legitimate to strike in mid recession floors me. Some people have nothing and this person justifies himself how? Can’t his members vote him out? I don’t understand why such people are paid and kept in their high-handed positions while their members stand by with their ears, mouths, and eyes wide shut! But then there’s the EU!

12 June 2009 at 18:34  
Anonymous Old Grumpy said...

ZZMike - Not quite clear here where the "hazardous conditions" come from to which you refer. It's driving a train from the comfort of the front cab. Maybe in the old days of steam (that was fun on the Met!) the job might well be said to be hazardous, but now?

For His Grace's benefit, and mine, could you amplify what you had in mind?

I'd cordially suggest that virtually any manual labour position might be deemed to be more hazardous than the profession of train driver

12 June 2009 at 19:53  
Blogger Microcosm said...

Got the Guts to wear God said

"However, Thatcher was so off the mark when it came to the working class"

Too true thats why Thatcherite tories miss the point about the growing working class vote for the BNP.

Its not because the BNP are extreme left, its because a lot of good decent folk want work, for their families and the Nation. Left and Right is divisive and purposely made so.

Thats why even though everytime I have to walk through little Pakistan, to put flowers on family Graves, in a Christian Churchyard.

I look around at my surroundings, at all my ethnically cleansed neighbourhood and think, damn it no!

The Establishment is not going to convince me to hate these foreigners, I don't believe they should be here, but the Establishment has created enough division and I shall not fall for any more of their crap!!

Thats why I can see Bob Crow, doing is little Establishment goody two shoes best, in making sure more jobs are replaced by machines, more folk out of work.

Is the future going to be about a mankind who's only purpose in life is to make the machines to enslave us to the socialist system.

Or can it be about creeds and colours bucking the trend together, but with respect for the native cultures and folk, before the generations of these Isles that remember who we are have been lost forever.

Leaving us with a mass produced production line, multi-cult one size fits all micro-chipped man.

12 June 2009 at 22:10  
Blogger WoollyMindedLiberal said...

Bob Crow and the RMT, irritating little flea-bites. The bad weather in January was a far more serious hindrance to the economy. He is a tiresome fellow of course but so are many others we merrily ignore so I see no reason to give him the attention he craves.

Clearly your Grace is too young to have lived under the rule of the blessed St Margaret but as one who did I do not recall any shortage or absence of strikes between 1979 and 1990 : quite the reverse. Closing the mines and stopping those who would terrorise us was the right thing to do, it needed doing and Thatcher did it. Perhaps it could have been handled a mite more sensitively but it would be churlish to harp on about that.

12 June 2009 at 23:40  
Anonymous non mouse said...

Excellent post, Microcosm - thanks.

Apparently the Commies reckoned they needed 3 generations worth of brainwashing, before they could eradicate our 'conditioning.' You make me hope they were 'over-reaching.'

It's either so, or we'd better just sit tight and wait for the Heavenly Trumpets.

13 June 2009 at 00:47  
Anonymous not a machine said...

bob Crow obviously times it just right for him to win the popular vote, when England are playing at wembly .

I thank those who posted responses

I am sure I will be back to form, If and when required, I am gathering my thoughts , on who needs the help .Not declining the necessary fight.

it is rather like being in need of a shilling and knocking on each door of the Edwardian terrace, in search of Bob Cratchits christmas "oh no ive no change sorry" "if you were better clothed i might consider it" "do i know you"

finally you get to Bobs house "are you a member if not you can sling your hook"

I am rather worried that Eton may not be equpping there students in the same way that the methodists once equipped Grantham Grammer school.

The failings of communism is in its limited response , due to its glass cages of understanding , you dont know your confined until , you cannot move in the direction you would have liked to also has to rubble a culture to build its designs and cannot rely on consulting those who have other answers .

It is the process of the new without refering to the past , and that is why its imposed will and might will always fail . For the past is filled with common sense and stories that describe the failings of the pride of self , and its unfortunate victims .

13 June 2009 at 02:14  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

13 June 2009 at 18:30  
Anonymous Bethel said...

The cockles of the heart of His Grace will be warmed to know that I'm always grateful to Mr Crow for allowing me the opportunity to walk 3 miles across London in the early morning air of the Royal Parks at the expense of my employers, who then have no choice but to humour me and thank me for turning up.
I just wish I earned £40k and had free travel instaed of paying almost £4k per year to keep him in a job/out on strike.

13 June 2009 at 22:35  

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