Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Irish Journalist Gene Kerrigan Praises British Railway Union Leader Mick Lynch

leave a comment »

A brilliant Gene Kerrigan Column : Source Sunday Independent, June 26 2022

Biting lumps out of hapless Tories and media celebs Writes Gene Kerrigan

It was great fun, watching Her Majesty’s over-confident, under-talented politicians take a hiding. And there was the bonus of watching Her Majesty’s loyal media celebrities making fools of themselves. The Mick Lynch story last week provided social media — here and across the water — with a new hero.

Mick Lynch is a life-long trade unionist, with Irish parentage — his political hero is James Connolly. He was blacklisted for joining a union when he was a young electrician.

Now, aged 60, he’s leading the UK railway workers in their industrial dispute with the train company owners and their Tory government allies.

Last week, he bit lumps out of a succession of hapless Tory eejits. For afters, he casually swallowed several of the UK’s media elite.

Great entertainment, certainly — but more than that. These days, politicians approach the major issues of the day like marketing companies launching a new brand of ice-cream.

And the media stars — always eager to help introduce their customers to a new product — are aware of the supporting role they’re expected to play.

In this instance, the train workers — like many others fighting to protect their livelihood — would inevitably be cast as villains.

Lynch upset the grand plan by using weapons against which they all were vulnerable: straightforward language and the truth. The dispute emerged from efforts to cut labour costs, while the companies have reaped vast profits.

Here’s an example of Mr Lynch at his best.

On BBC’s Newsnight, Kirsty Wark had Lynch on along with a Tory mouthpiece. Such MPs are given speaking points by the party’s fixers. The speaking points are in line with the marketing plan — points made in the kind of language that research indicates will best work with the target customers.

For instance, workers who resist effective pay cuts and the shredding of conditions are clearly sensible people. So, the notion of cuts must be avoided. Instead, the marketing people give such cuts a virtuous label, such as “modernisation”.

This lets MPs claim the workers are “dinosaurs” resisting inevitable change — fools, whose refusal to accept change will ruin the country.

The Tory mouthpiece on Newsnight made an unfounded claim that Lynch’s union is so backward it refused to negotiate with a Tory government.

“That’s a lie,” Mick Lynch said, quietly.

Pause, then another accusation, delivered almost regretfully. “Direct lie.”

And as the MP continued speaking, Lynch said: “You’re lying.”

The Tory made another claim.

“That’s a lie,” said Mick.

“That’s a lie.”

The words spaced out, direct and simple. “That — is — a — lie.”

The Tory was still talking.

“Direct lie.”

“Direct lie.”

“A lie.”

Every Tory sentence brought an accusation.

“That’s a lie.”

When Kirsty Wark asked Mick Lynch to stop, he explained, in a voice laden with regret: “He’s lying.”

He then specified another Tory claim the MP had regurgitated, and said: “You are a liar.”

The Tory had no answer. He had his script from the marketing people. He had no independent evidence — no way of checking that he’d been supplied with truthful claims, so he couldn’t argue.

To be directly accused on live TV — over and over — of lying, yet not to be able to confidently reply, was a kind of hell.

Perhaps stunned by the completeness of Mick Lynch’s victory over the Tory, Kirsty Wark failed to insist that the Tory answer the accusations.

That kind of thing was repeated as Mick Lynch made his rounds of the TV shows. In between dealing with Tory MPs, Lynch had to put up with the efforts of the media celebs to outwit him.

Richard Madeley — who really shouldn’t try to outwit anything more intelligent than a cushion — did an Are-You-Now-or-Have-You-Ever-Been-a-Marxist? routine.

Mick Lynch couldn’t resist smiling. “Richard, you do come up with the most remarkable twaddle sometimes.”

Madeley sat there, protesting mournfully that he doesn’t speak twaddle.

“I’m not speaking twaddle,” he insisted. In a lifetime of making an eejit of himself, this was a new low.

Piers Morgan, God help him, tried to claim Lynch is the human incarnation of a villain from a puppet show — not as a joke, not as a comparison, but literally. Piers is very, very highly paid to be an idiot.

The trade union movement — including generations of Mick Lynches — played an honourable role in civilising this society. Paid holidays, weekends off, health and safety, reasonable hours and wages, equal pay —the list goes on and on.

The unions are a small, counter-balance against the non-stop lobbying of those who quietly let the politicians know what loopholes they’d like to see stitched into which legislation.

As capital and labour relate in their different ways to those who are elected to govern, there is another player at the table.

There’s a kind of media player who doesn’t merely chronicle or observe events, or try to make sense of current political shifts. They regard themselves as having a more active role — albeit a supportive one — in governing, along with the politicians.

Their role is to help us see things in a responsible light. There was an example last week, involving Mick Lynch.

He appeared on BBC’s Question Time. While making a point about wages, he was interrupted by the host, Fiona Bruce. She gave the government line that if workers are paid more, it will lead to inflation.

Lynch replied that inflation is already there — and accurately pointed out that wages are currently chasing prices, not the other way around.

What was revealing was that Bruce began her interruption by remonstrating with the Tory politician present, Rachel Maclean, a junior minister, for not interrupting.

“I’m going to say this for you, Rachel, since you’re sitting quiet as a mouse.”

No joke, no smile — the ‘impartial’ host was making it clear she was doing the minister’s political job for her.

We generally don’t get that kind of brazen intervention over here, but we do have media players who see themselves as having a role in ensuring responsible government.

And they appear to define responsible government in line with the definition of some of our leading politicians — responsible government means ensuring that reasonable, cultured, rich people get that to which they are entitled, despite the grasping efforts of the irresponsible types who don’t get up early enough.

It’s truly astonishing, after all we have experienced in this country over the past 40 years, that the old prejudices linger — but they do.

As actor Emmet Kirwan once put it: “It wasn’t blokes in tracksuits that ruined the country, it was blokes in suits.”

In the Tribunal era, we learned of widespread criminality in business. No trade union involvement.

No trade union set up large-scale tax frauds — that was the bankers, the lawyers and the accountants.

No trade union created an irresponsible property market based on unsustainable lending — that was bankers again.

No trade union behaved as recklessly as the financial regulators and the politicians.

No trade union behaved as irresponsibly as the media stalwarts cheering this on.

No trade union has behaved as criminally as the bankers who manipulated the mortgage market, forcing people to lose their homes.

We can bet that another layer of the UK media — the creepy tabloid guys who go through people’s bins — will have been busy last week targeting Mick Lynch. Long may he thrive.

Written by tomasoflatharta

Jun 26, 2022 at 12:33 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: