Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Bob Crow RIP

From The Daily Mirror.

As a commuter, I didn't approve of his occasional strikes of course.

But what made him so valuable was the way he messed with the Home-Owner-Ists' minds by choosing to pay £10,000 a year rent for his Housing Association house (previously a council house) for the next twenty or thirty years rather than exercising his Right To Buy and snapping it up for about £50,000.

Let's leave the last word to the man himself:

"I was born in a council house, as far as I’m concerned I will die in one."


The Stigler said...

That's about the fairest obit I've read today.

I really can't get behind people describing him as a fighter or a big character. It's not like his fights were making the world a better place - they were just enriching the tiny number of people who had the monopoly on driving trains.

Then again, if the Government had done it right and brought the army in to run a skeleton service every time that the RMT went on strike, they'd have soon stopped doing it.

JohnM said...

I don't get it. Why not buy the house and then donate it to a housing association?

He then gives the benefit exactly as he sees fit. He can even pay the housing association the difference he saves in rent. The same end is achieved but entirely within his control. It's almost as if his objective is not social housing per se but the removal of autonomy from individuals.

Mark Wadsworth said...

TS, thanks and agreed.

JM, how do you mean, you don't get it? The man had principles, end of.

Your second paragraph doesn't make sense.

I trust that you realise that all state-protected exclusive possession of land (aka ownership) without compensatory payments in return places a burden on 'everybody else'?

Thus simply by 'owning' land you are limiting everybody else's "autonomy"?

At least with social housing, people who can afford to pay compensatory payments (rent) into the common pot are doing so. It's nowhere near as good as LVT but it is a start.

So he seemed to believe in social housing AND thereby maximising everybody else's "autonomy".

Here endeth.

JohnM said...

Let me explain.

In my scenario, he buys the house. He also works out exactly what he has financially gained by so doing over his lifetime. He then puts that money aside each month. So now at the end of his life he has a house and money that he wouldn't overall have had before. He wills the house and money to a housing association.

The net result is that at his death, the social housing is still available but in a housing association rather than the council. In addition the money becomes available for the housing association who can use it for say buying more houses.

Meanwhile the funds used to buy his house have been available to the council, who could use it to fund social housing.

That strikes me as a better outcome than before.

So here's why I use the word autonomy. It was possible for him to bring about that better outcome. However he would deny that right to himself and others and grant it instead to the state.

Mark Wadsworth said...

JM, firstly, Bob's council house was actually transferred to a housing association some years ago.

Secondly, housing associations are government financed, owned, controlled and run. Why do you see a big difference between Housing Association and local council? Housing Associations are "the state" for crying out loud.

Thirdly, speaking as the second best accountant in the world, let me tell you that if Bob had done exactly as you outline, the Housing Association would end up slightly worse off that it is at present (a bit of stamp duty, tax on Bob's savings, the council would have pissed the original sales proceeds up the wall anyway).

If you can't see that for yourself then there is little point trying to explain it again.

Bob was top anti-Home-Owner-Ist, that's why the Homeys hate him so.

DBC Reed said...

Back in the 70's, Bob Crow's favourite era!, it was quite common for lower-ranking trade union officials of the shop steward ,"Rank and File" type to launch into dire warnings about homeownership being the ruin of the working-man by sapping his will to fight for good wages via collective action. Subsequently they must have either sold out themselves or now despair at the economic consequences of the workers' houses making more from inflation than the workers do from working. It was a pity Bob Crow was n't just left to defend himself in his anti-homeownerism by a movement which fails to see Homeownerism as an enemy.

The Stigler said...

The story about him blocking Prescott's attempt to buy a flat on the cheap was good.

DBC Reed said...

@TS The Prescott story illustrates the fact that the working-class movement was undermined even back then by those who thought that increasing house prices were a nice little perk in addition to increasing wages.Crow was isolated in defending his living arrangements personally when he should have been supported by working-class policial movements dedicated to HELPP !(High earnings low property prices)
But there were too many closet Tory sell-outs in the movement who thought you could have high earnings and high property prices.You can't.

The Stigler said...


To me it just shows that some people are venal and some not so much.

Bob Crow, for whatever else we can say about him, talked the talk and walked the walk. He had a job running the RMT. He did it very well for a very good, but hardly obscene package.

That whole New Labour crowd make me feel a bit ill at times - people who talked about working people, the poor and so forth, and they're all lobbying for corporate power now.