Tube Strike: Day Two

Dean Nicholas
By Dean Nicholas Last edited 131 months ago
Tube Strike: Day Two

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Boris Johnson and RMT boss Bob Crow never seemed particularly suited to each others' very different worlds, and relations between them have broken down to a Christmas card list-purging level. Dave Hill has printed in full an aggressive letter released by Crow yesterday which, among other things, accuses the Mayor's team of dishonesty, of reneging on a previously-agreed deal to suspend the strike, and dumps the whole strike in Johnson's lap, accusing him of orchestrating it in order to further a murky "political agenda". In a nice turn of doublespeak, Crow also accused the Mayor of "playing politics with the tube". Pot, meet kettle, and if we're lucky, meet cranium shortly after that.

Crow's further charge that Johnson had stormed out of a face-to-face interview with him on Channel 4 news was strenuously denied by the Mayor's team, although Boris was scheduled to appear on the midday broadcast earlier in the day before cancelling last minute. In their riposte, the Mayor's office denied all the above accusations, while paying tribute to the Tube workers who turned out and delivered some semblance of a service on certain lines: a reported 120 out of 500 trains were operational yesterday.

Elsewhere, it's not surprising that Crow is painted as the villain of the piece. The Evening Standard has him mouthing lines straight out of a Hollywood blockbuster: "I've got a strike to run". The Telegraph, their expenses scandal windfall draining away, is devoting page after page to the story, getting aggrieved at the fact that Tube drivers earn an extra £10k than nurses, while also running a fairly humourous piece on how Crow is in fact doing a good service for sport in the capital.

Does anybody have a good word to say for the RMT gaffer? Presumably the 153,000 who voted for his No2EU party in the European elections last week think he's a decent sort, but there is a sensation that this time, he may have stepped too far: the Mail thinks he's marching towards the abyss, and that his formerly imperious position as RMT boss may be under threat. Given all that, he may decide to go out with a bang: the name-calling and blame game being played for the last-ditch breakdown in talks could lead to even more strikes in the near future.

As for today, services will remain down but not out, with Aslef, Unite and even some RMT members crossing picket lines and going to work. Annie Mole has rounded up some ways to cope with it, ranging from the practical to the indulgent.

Last Updated 11 June 2009