Bob Crow protests against the government's spending cuts at a rally in Bedford Square in London on October 23, 2010. Photograph: Getty Images.
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RMT leader Bob Crow dies at 52

The union confirms that its general secretary "sadly passed away in the early hours of this morning."

The RMT has confirmed reports that Bob Crow has died at the age of just 52.

In a statement on its website, it said: "It is with the deepest regret that RMT has to confirm that our General Secretary Bob Crow sadly passed away in the early hours of this morning.

"The union's offices will be closed for the rest of the day and the union will make further announcements in due course. The media have been asked to respect the privacy of Bob’s friends and family at this difficult and distressing time."
 
I'm sure that Crow would appreciate the irony of those who tormented him for the offence of taking a holiday (and for much else) now mourning his passing. His final interview was given yesterday to Radio 4's PM in which he made the case for an increase in MPs' pay.
 
Here are some reactions from politicians and union leaders.
 
Boris Johnson

I’m shocked. Bob Crow was a fighter and a man of character.

Whatever our political differences, and there were many, this is tragic news.

Bob fought tirelessly for his beliefs and for his members.

There can be absolutely no doubt that he played a big part in the success of the Tube, and he shared my goal to make transport in London an even greater success.

It’s a sad day.

Ken Livingstone 

I assumed he would be at my funeral not me at his.

He fought really hard for his members. The only working-class people who still have well-paid jobs in London are his members.”

With the passage of time people will come to see that people like Bob Crow did a very good job.

Ed Miliband

Bob Crow was a major figure in the labour movement and was loved and deeply respected by his members.

I didn’t always agree with him politically but I always respected his tireless commitment to fighting for the men and women in his union. He did what he was elected to do, was not afraid of controversy and was always out supporting his members across the country.

He was a passionate defender of and campaigner for safe, affordable public transport and was a lifelong anti-fascist activist.

My thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues in the RMT and wider union movement at this difficult time.

Frances O'Grady

This is shocking news. Bob was an outstanding trade unionist, who tirelessly fought for his members, his industry and the wider trade union movement.

He was always a good friend and comrade to me. We will miss him, and our thoughts are with his family and the RMT at this difficult time.

Manuel Cortes, TSSA rail union leader

Bob Crow was admired by his members and feared by employers, which is exactly how he liked it.

It was a privilege to campaign and fight alongside him because he never gave an inch.

Paul Kenny, GMB general secretary

The loss for members of the RMT is immeasurable. They have lost their champion. The loss to the trade union movement and to the cause of advancing the living standards of working people across the globe is devastating.

Even people who didn’t like what he did agreed he did it very well. Our thoughts are with Bob’s family and the RMT.

Bob’s strength, personal integrity and straight forward speaking won many battles for his members. He took his job very seriously and never stopped working. A giant of the labour movement. He is irreplaceable.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Hillary Clinton can take down the Donald Trump bogeyman - but she's up against the real thing

Donald Trump still has time to transform. 

Eight years later than hoped, Hillary Clinton finally ascended to the stage at the Democratic National Convention and accepted the nomination for President. 

Like her cheerleaders, the Obamas, she was strongest when addressing the invisible bogeyman - her rival for President, Donald Trump. 

Clinton looked the commander in chief when she dissed The Donald's claims to expertise on terrorism. 

Now Donald Trump says, and this is a quote, "I know more about ISIS than the generals do"

No, Donald, you don't.

He thinks that he knows more than our military because he claimed our armed forces are "a disaster."

Well, I've had the privilege to work closely with our troops and our veterans for many years.

Trump boasted that he alone could fix America. "Isn't he forgetting?" she asked:

Troops on the front lines. Police officers and fire fighters who run toward danger. Doctors and nurses who care for us. Teachers who change lives. Entrepreneurs who see possibilities in every problem.

Clinton's message was clear: I'm a team player. She praised supporters of her former rival for the nomination, Bernie Sanders, and concluded her takedown of Trump's ability as a fixer by declaring: "Americans don't say: 'I alone can fix it.' We say: 'We'll fix it together.'"

Being the opposite of Trump suits Clinton. As she acknowledged in her speech, she is not a natural public performer. But her cool, policy-packed speech served as a rebuke to Trump. She is most convincing when serious, and luckily that sets her apart from her rival. 

The Trump in the room with her at the convention was a boorish caricature, a man who describes women as pigs. "There is no other Donald Trump," she said. "This is it."

Clinton and her supporters are right to focus on personality. When it comes to the nuclear button, most fair-minded people on both left and right would prefer to give the decision to a rational, experienced character over one who enjoys a good explosion. 

But the fact is, outside of the convention arena, Trump still controls the narrative on Trump.

Trump has previously stated clearly his aim to "pivot" to the centre. He has declared that he can change "to anything I want to change to".  In his own speech, Trump forewent his usual diatribe for statistics about African-American children in poverty. He talked about embracing "crying mothers", "laid-off factory workers" and making sure "all of our kids are treated equally". His wife Melania opted for a speech so mainstream it was said to be borrowed from Michelle Obama. 

His personal attacks have also narrowed. Where once his Twitter feed was spattered with references to "lying Ted Cruz" and "little Marco Rubio", now the bile is focused on one person: "crooked Hillary Clinton". Just as Clinton defines herself against a caricature of him, so Trump is defining himself against one of her. 

Trump may not be able to maintain a more moderate image - at a press conference after his speech, he lashed out at his former rival, Ted Cruz. But if he can tone down his rhetoric until November, he will no longer be the bogeyman Clinton can shine so brilliantly against.