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Mick Lynch: The trade union leader who is nobody’s puppet

The general secretary of the RMT union has been taking on, and vanquishing, all comers – politicians and journalists alike. Now he has become a thorn in Boris Johnson’s side, writes Sean O’Grady

Saturday 25 June 2022 15:09 BST

There’s no doubt who is the media sensation of the week. It’s Mick Lynch, general secretary of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT).

It makes a change from one of the Kardashians. Like a sort of working-class superhero in a fight scene, he’s taken on all comers in TV and radio studios. Armed only with facts, first-hand knowledge of the talks he’s actually been in and a deep understanding of the rail industry, Lynch left smart-arse interviewers with fancy degrees slack-jawed and Tory MPs trussed up by their own ignorance. Robert Jenrick tried to pull a fast one on inflationary dangers and – wham! – Mick flattened him with the RPI the rail companies used to ramp up commuter fares (but do not apply to wage rises).

The hapless Jonathan Gullis tried to deploy our brave veterans in his struggle, but Lynch countered with the observation that he was simply a backbencher reading a central office script and unworthy of his attention. Junior minister Chris Philp trotted out the oft-repeated line that Lynch refuses to talk to Tory ministers, only to be firmly corrected and told that Lynch had in fact held conversations with most of the transport department ministers, including the secretary of state, Grant Shapps (“when he wanted something out of me to keep the railways running during Covid”). Lynch looked Philp in the eye and called him a liar. Philp smirked and squirmed like a naughty schoolboy.

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