I don’t remember ever having such a need to show my respects to a public person before as I have done with Bob Crow. Never has one person inspired me to stand on the side of a road in the freezing cold before. Then what happens? 2 people die that I feel worthy of respect, Bob Crow and Tony Benn. So this morning as we set off I was hoping to see the destination on the front of all the underground trains as “Bob Crow” but alas not. We turned up at Woodford South station at about 12.15 with the plan to meet the Funeral Cortège as it passed through Herman Hill to Wanstead High street. We walked along the road passing and speaking to the groups of people dressed in black with their banners and flags that had come out to pay their respects outside their houses. We waited patiently for the cortège to arrive and chatted to an elderly gentleman wearing his RMT badge for 25 years service proudly on his lapel. He decided to come along with us for the walk down the road to meet the procession. We talked of Bob and the good work he had done and how he was a man of the people, His no bullshit attitude and his plain down to earth language and his empathy towards the working class, but we mainly talked about the unions and what next. We talked of new beginnings and the break away from the political party and the need for unions more now than ever. We all talked with the hope that this tragedy may relight the fires we need to see to take on the fight to bring to task the corporations that are enslaving the workforce and removing all rights of welfare and Health and safety in exchange for profit and dividends.
Out of nowhere the sound of horses could be heard and the cortège appeared a Hearse full of flowers with the words RMT in the back window and the coffin following in a horse drawn carriage. The four horses were dressed in blue and white, the colours of Bob Crow’s much loved Millwall Football Club. We stood by the road and solemnly watched it pass.
Car after car and then the Black Taxi drivers drove past us showing their respect with messages in their windows. We nodded to one of them and I asked him if he was going all the way to the Crematoria and did he fancy giving us a lift. “No problem” so we joined the cortège in the back of a cab. A new conversation started as I asked him was he a union member and he explained how they had supported him and saved his job and how he had only just been talking to Bob. We talked politics and unions and it was talk of much respect.
We jumped out of the cab and walked up the road looking at hundred of union and Stop the war banners as thousands of supporters, comrades and co-workers lined the streets. We said hi to friends and colleagues and talked of what a sad day this was. A massive banner held by RMT employees was held at the entrance. At 1.30 a minutes silence was observed and people openly cried. It was powerful and showed so much respect you can’t imagine the atmosphere. There is not a lot more I can add to this other than the world is a lot worse off today than it was 2 weeks ago and we have lost a true man of the people. I am more than sad. I just want to say I didn’t agree with every word from Bob but I agreed with every sentiment and he will be a hard act to follow.
Paul Kenny, leader of the GMB union, said: “Bob was a remarkable fighter for working people, but he was also passionate about protecting the health and safety of the public, which he never got any credit for.
Tributes to Bob Crow will also be paid on May Day, with a special event planned in London. MAY DAY MAY DAY MAY DAY See you on the streets.