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.

Ukip's Nigel Farage and Paul Nuttall. Photo: Getty
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Is the general election 2017 the end of Ukip?

Ukip led the way to Brexit, but now the party is on less than 10 per cent in the polls. 

Ukip could be finished. Ukip has only ever had two MPs, but it held an outside influence on politics: without it, we’d probably never have had the EU referendum. But Brexit has turned Ukip into a single-issue party without an issue. Ukip’s sole remaining MP, Douglas Carswell, left the party in March 2017, and told Sky News’ Adam Boulton that there was “no point” to the party anymore. 

Not everyone in Ukip has given up, though: Nigel Farage told Peston on Sunday that Ukip “will survive”, and current leader Paul Nuttall will be contesting a seat this year. But Ukip is standing in fewer constituencies than last time thanks to a shortage of both money and people. Who benefits if Ukip is finished? It’s likely to be the Tories. 

Is Ukip finished? 

What are Ukip's poll ratings?

Ukip’s poll ratings peaked in June 2016 at 16 per cent. Since the leave campaign’s success, that has steadily declined so that Ukip is going into the 2017 general election on 4 per cent, according to the latest polls. If the polls can be trusted, that’s a serious collapse.

Can Ukip get anymore MPs?

In the 2015 general election Ukip contested nearly every seat and got 13 per cent of the vote, making it the third biggest party (although is only returned one MP). Now Ukip is reportedly struggling to find candidates and could stand in as few as 100 seats. Ukip leader Paul Nuttall will stand in Boston and Skegness, but both ex-leader Nigel Farage and donor Arron Banks have ruled themselves out of running this time.

How many members does Ukip have?

Ukip’s membership declined from 45,994 at the 2015 general election to 39,000 in 2016. That’s a worrying sign for any political party, which relies on grassroots memberships to put in the campaigning legwork.

What does Ukip's decline mean for Labour and the Conservatives? 

The rise of Ukip took votes from both the Conservatives and Labour, with a nationalist message that appealed to disaffected voters from both right and left. But the decline of Ukip only seems to be helping the Conservatives. Stephen Bush has written about how in Wales voting Ukip seems to have been a gateway drug for traditional Labour voters who are now backing the mainstream right; so the voters Ukip took from the Conservatives are reverting to the Conservatives, and the ones they took from Labour are transferring to the Conservatives too.

Ukip might be finished as an electoral force, but its influence on the rest of British politics will be felt for many years yet. 

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