Bob Crow and the politics of Trade Unionism

McIlroy, John (2018) Bob Crow and the politics of Trade Unionism. Critique: Journal of Socialist Theory, 46 (1) . pp. 131-161. ISSN 0301-7605 [Article] (doi:10.1080/03017605.2017.1412627)

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Bob Crow was an outstanding leader of British trade unionism in the early 21st century. As general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union, Crow championed industrial militancy. He maximised his position as a public figure to proselytise for public ownership of the railways and criticise the Conservatives, New Labour and the European Union. He opposed austerity and fostered initiatives to regroup the left and create an alternative to the Labour Party. This article develops a critique of a recent biography of Crow written from a Marxist perspective to appraise his career through the prism of Marxist approaches to trade unionism. It analyses Crow’s role as a union leader and explores his political projects such as No2EU and the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition. His contribution is assessed in relation to contemporary issues such as Brexit and the resurgence of the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn. The article concludes that measured against a Marxist template, Crow was closer to Lenin’s ‘trade union leader’ than his ‘tribune of the people’. Despite his industrial achievements, he remained within the framework of the militant trade unionism and left reformism he absorbed during his formative years, rather than an advocate of class politics and revolutionary socialism.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > Business School
Item ID: 23503
Notes on copyright: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Critique: Journal of Socialist Theory on 02/01/2018, available online:
Depositing User: John Mcilroy
Date Deposited: 05 Feb 2018 13:13
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 20:18

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