Tube strikes: Could the new Bob Crow bring RMT in from the cold?

Mick Cash is seen as a more moderate figure than Bob Crow

Mick Cash, who served for 12 years as deputy to the charismatic union leader Bob Crow, emerged from his shadow this week to act as principal spokesman for striking London Tube drivers.

hose who heard him noted that he lacked Mr Crow’s fiery eloquence – though the message appeared the same: the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) will fight for its members regardless of whether the travelling public approves or not.

Mr Cash is a more moderate figure than Mr Crow, who was himself less hard-line than some of the other senior union officials. He is temporarily in charge of the RMT until a new general secretary is chosen in September, following Mr Crow’s death from a heart attack in March aged 52.

If he were to win, the rift that caused the RMT to become the first union to be expelled by the Labour Party could possibly be healed. Mr Cash is a Labour supporter, and was a member of  its National Executive Committee at the time of the rift, in 2004. To the annoyance of some RMT members, he abstained when the executive voted on his union’s expulsion.

It is also possible – though not certain – that strikes would be rarer if Mr Cash were to become general secretary, rather than acting general secretary. “He was always the type of bloke who would engineer the deal when he could,” a friend said. “Actually, Bob was like that too, but he pretended that he wasn’t.”

It was often said that Bob Crow was more pragmatic than he appeared, but was pushed into militancy by others in the union, notably Pat Sikorski, a revolutionary Marxist who held the No 3 slot in the union hierarchy, but who lost his job after an election in 2012.

His place was taken by Steve Hedley, who is now the second-most senior full-time RMT official, and has been tipped as a potential contender. He is linked to the tiny Socialist Party, created by members of what was the Militant Tendency who were expelled from the Labour Party in the 1980s and 1990s. If Mr Hedley emerged as Mr Crow’s successor, he could expect his personal life to be pored over in harsh detail by unfriendly newspapers. He has been accused of domestic violence by his former partner, a fellow RMT member. He has denied the allegation, and was not charged.

The left’s strongest contender is likely to be Alex Gordon, a Bristol train driver who until recently was the RMT president. In 2012, he ran for a seat in the London Assembly as a candidate of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, which was set up by the Socialist Party, although he is not known to be a member of any political party. His politics are left of the Labour Party’s however, particularly on the issue of EU membership. 

Mick Cash is by far the most experienced potential successor, having been a member of the RMT and its predecessor, the National Union of Railwaymen, since 1978, and having taken part in countless negotiations over pay and conditions. But this is a left-wing union, whose members may well choose the younger, more radical candidate.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the world's leading suppliers and manuf...

Recruitment Genius: Multiple Apprentices Required

£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Apprentices are required to join a privat...

Sauce Recruitment: HR Manager

£40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: This is an exciting opportunity for a HR...

Ashdown Group: Interim HR Manager - 3 Month FTC - Henley-on-Thames

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established organisation oper...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee