The ‘Chad’ Mick Lynch

In a week of historic strike action, the RMT media strategy presents a much-needed fighting spirit, writes James Meechan
In a week of historic strike action, the RMT media strategy presents a much-needed fighting spirit, writes James Meechan
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Around 07:00 on Tuesday 21 June, I, like millions across the country, was peremptorily informed by my television that I was indeed watching Good Morning Britain, with Richard Madeley and Ranvir Singh. However, this was no ordinary Good Morning Britain, with Richard Madeley and Ranvir Singh, for this episode marked the beginning of a historic rail strike organised by the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT).

The narrative of ‘chaos’ unleashed by the malevolent union barons had been meticulously set up by invertebrate journalists and shiftless politicians, government and opposition alike, in the months leading to the RMT strike. The programme featured lots of piece-to-camera banalities, hopping between our provincial train stations, Edinburgh Waverly, Birmingham New Street, and London Euston. The sum of this cross-country, live correspondence, which an entire professional news operation had painstakingly coordinated? Get this the train stations are very quiet because –– brace yourselves! –– no train services were running due to strike action. The erudite, professional journalists sauntered through each desolate station, detailing the ‘chaos’ with all the sombreness with which a colleague might narrate the aftermath of a brutal murder or terrorist attack.

Finally, the man of the hour, the man holding Britain to ransom, the RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch appeared live from the London Euston picket. Doddering anchorman and I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! loser Richard Madeley launched proceedings, babbling the ludicrous, loaded McCarthyite question: “Are you or aren’t you a Marxist?

I don’t think I was the only viewer who contorted my somnambulent face into a big gurn when Lynch, barely curtailing a chuckle, retorted: “Richard, you do come up with the most remarkable twaddle sometimes, I’ve got to say.” Lynch continued through the day to fill us with joy as he gave full-fat, no-nonsense arguments for the strike action.

The historic significance and background of this industrial action has been expressed in advance by the RMT leadership, but I’ll summarise here. Rail workers have had frozen pay for the last three years, whilst the government cuts £4bn in funding and expects to get more out of workers for less –– fresh rounds of redundancies, slackened health and safety protocol, more night shifts, more weekends, reduced overtime premiums- in addition to the record 11% inflation this year. This is in the context of rail bosses absolutely swimming in money –– 73 executives of Network Rail rake in £15 million a year in salaries. 

It’s politically braindead for the government to expect rail workers to just accept uncompromising immiseration after two years of platitudes towards them as ‘heroic key workers’, churned up by that same government, remain fresh in the popular consciousness. In order to shift public opinion, the dissemblers made some desperate calls to their rabid chums in Britain’s ludicrous journalism industry. The mass media monster-machine had been reset to ‘ELEMENTAL HATRED’ mode, and aimed at rail workers.

Imagine, then, the existential terror of the Murdoch editors, the apopleptic rictus rippling their molluscan countenance; the 24-hour news producers, coke-smeared faces aghast, petrified in caffeinated stasis, when they become the victims of their own wicked designs.

Delectable clippings of Lynch’s news interviews were going viral all day, each amounting to a new backfire by the regime and billionaire-owned propagandists, demonstrating the utter vacuity of Britain’s arrogant, pompous pundit class. Contempt for working-class people is so tremendous in the media, none of these ‘scathing’, top-level career journalists could actually be bothered to do the required reading and formulate anything vaguely resembling an interview question.  Will you condemn something that happened 40 years ago? Maybe you’ll confess to your destructive agenda when I probe you on the cryptic significance of the Thunderbirds character you selected for your FaceBook profile picture? Ah, well, you’ll be foiled after someone regurgitates two lines from a script at you. No?

The Hood (Thunderbirds)

Cry ‘Havoc!’ and let slip the dogs of the Question Time audience. The great, slobbering chorus of tutting, harrumphing pot-bellied gobshites; the propertied, know-it-all, retired landlords sprinkled across Britain. You know exactly what a Question Time audience consists of –– the universally self-important, petit-bourgeois cretins who get some imperious, misanthropic pleasure out of seething at waitresses, supermarket cashiers, and in concert with the recent Murdoch and regime media output, rail workers. They are tenuously united to call for workers, fighting for security and prosperity for themselves and their families, to simply ‘adapt with the times –– look what happened to the dinosaurs’, and accept the comely prospect of destitution. God help you if you get them started on Unexpected Items in the Bagging Area.

In the lugubrious, low-information, battlefield of vapid questions, inane soundbite answers, commentariat morons, and televised ‘vox populi’ mobs composed of sexless boat owners, passing as Britain’s self-professed ‘world-class’ informed media culture, the spectacle of a working-class bloke coming on the news and making utter plonkers of the Professionals has been simply sublime, and has rallied the already overwhelming public support for the strikes.

As hysterically funny as it has been to watch, I must also say this has been quite heartening to witness. For as long as I have been seriously politically conscious, the left has been without anyone you could objectively call a strong, publicly engaging leader. We have had undeniably amiable and nice personalities like Jeremy Corbyn; a very sweet old man, but just too soft and polite when dealing with hostile, bad-faith journalists and wreckers.

But wait! We also have our own little left-commentariat champions, don’t we? These heroic, self-appointed, upwardly-mobile, professional middle-class Twitter celebrities have elected to represent our movement for us. The ‘progressive intellectuals’ will speak for you, ‘poor’, ‘uneducated’ worker –– until, of course, they have a new book to hawk or a vapid podcast to promote. Then, as they do time and time again, they will eagerly join in the slander of working-class leaders, to suit the malice of the right and the pious sensibilities of EU-flag-in-bio wokescolds.

What makes Lynch’s media appearances so engaging is that he puts the fatuous, uninformed journalists’ noses out of joint by going on the offensive. They expect a guy in Lynch’s position to be deferential to his betters, take a licking, be gracious for the honuor of slaking the egomaniac presenters’ thirst for sadism, and be hopeful of earning a repeat appearance next week. Instead he takes zero shit from anyone, and leaves the illustrious titans of British news media exposed for the fuck-wits they are, cucked and coping in their shiny London studios. The public reaction clearly indicates people love seeing virgin pundits like Piers Moron being rebuked by a ‘Chad’ worker.

We must salute Mick Lynch, Assistant General Secratry Eddie Dempsey, and all of the RMT’s spokespeople for their Herculean performance on extremely hostile platforms. I sincerely believe they have given the rest of the political left food for thought on how we should handle political communication. 

There is second, and I believe, a more providential lesson the Mick Lynch phenomenom teaches us –– there is nothing particular, special, or unique about Mick Lynch’s communication. Yes, I have just spent the last fourteen paragraphs fawning over him –– he is great! I want him on my TV everyday –– but I think Lynch himself would agree. He’s just an ordinary guy –– that’s the whole point.

What makes Mick Lynch a hero to so many is his undeniable familiarity. There are tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of working class men and women across the country like Mick Lynch. You’ve probably already met Mick Lynch, probably met a few Mick Lynches in fact, or someone who, with the right encouragement, has the makings of a Mick Lynch. You may even be a Mick Lynch yourself. They have different names, ages, backgrounds, accents, personalities and professions but their essence is the same. They’re the natural leaders with the strength of character and the brass neck to stand up to their employer and fight for themselves and their colleagues. 

When we cheer for Mick Lynch mauling some arsehole pundit, we’re cheering for those leaders we know in our workplace. We’re rooting for Bryan the shop steward from the supermarket produce department, or Sharon the waitress who looked out for you from your first ever shift. These are the advanced members of the working class. These people who understand, in a tactile, intimate way, the economic forces that shape and dominate their lives. Crucially, they understand the only way to affect material change is through organising the strength of their workplace, to realise the force working people can exert on their employers, their government, their ruling class.

Very few of them, if ever, will break through to our television screens and get to have their say on the great economic issues of our time. No, say the Common Sense talking-heads, we lose the virtue of impartiality when you divide airtime assigned for business lobbyists and feckless politico gremlins to blather inanities about soaring child poverty or 180,000 COVID-19 deaths. The recent media appearances by Lynch, Dempsey et al. have only occured under extraordinary, historic circumstances, and there’s been some utterly embarrassing attempts at analysing the aberration they represent.

Prattle merchant and quintessential blue-tick Ian Dunt gives a characteristically glib attempt at decoding Mick Lynch. He thinks of Lynch as some kind of renegade of political communication, who wields “a combination of plain-speaking, quick-thinking, bemusement and basic mockeryi.e., speaking like a normal person, as if it were some rhetorical Excalibur. The deadline-motivated ignorance of how working people up and down the country would speak to anybody who demonstrates utter contempt for them, is certainly revealing. Has Dunt actually spoken to anyone besides other insufferable gimps in the London lib journo podcastiverse?

Dunt interprets Lynch’s — again I emphasise- completely normal way of speaking, like some rediscovered arcane art, an old trick that works for the Sky News metagame. He gestures towards politicians speaking like automatons, and how it comes across so insincerely, yes absolutely, but thinks somebody like Sir Keith Starmer, a man whose voice, mind, physiognomy, his very soul even, are orchestrated by a PR committee and three different focus groups running 24/7, could possibly steal some of the Mick Lynch thunder, and jump 40 points ahead in the polls.

The very fact there is a discussion about how eldritch politicians should ‘just act normal’ is indicative of how doomed that idea is. Nobody, nobody, nobody is ever going to take a wet blanket like Sir Beer Korma as some charismatic blokey geezer they’d love to have a pint with, especially if he was blatantly trying to force that perception. Just watch that sphincter-clenching clip of him cracking bloody dreadful  jokes at PMQs. No ‘electable’ parliamentary party even has a visionary proposal for our society, to communicate in the first place. The charisma-vacuum of Sir Keith is going to swagger onto Today to speak over Nick Robinson and deliver a passionate case for… what? ‘Supply-chain security’? ‘Waiving VAT on electricity bills for three months’? Professional politicians cannot and will not earn the kind of respect given by the masses to  Mick Lynch, Eddie Dempsey or the late, great, Bob Crow because they are not remotely working-class.

A leader like Mick Lynch is, by his experience, someone who communicates effectively because he is not bound to the laws of respectable mendacity in the parliamentary-media nexus. Like those 80,000 workers he represents, he is a politically advanced member of the working-class, who actually has a vision for a materially, qualitatively different society that offers prosperity for working people, not billionaires. He’s impervious to the duplicity of the Labour careerists, the hubristic allure of being a darling of Times columnists etc. He had a simple choice –– play by the ‘sensible’ rulebook and dignify ludicrous drivel about FaceBook profile pictures, or stand up for himself and his union and fight bad-faith with the distinctly witty flippancy it deserves.

The fact the media is rigged against us does not mean we should fail to prepare ourselves, whether in the YCL or the greater workers’ movement, to verbally communicate our beliefs. Quite the opposite, in fact. For years we have seen repetitive imagery of the ineffectual, witless lefty, bleating about the topical issue of the day and offering nothing of substance. This isn’t because the people in our movement are stupid, it isn’t because we don’t have an attractive case to present. It’s because we have been guilty of outsourcing the lofty, political debate to a gaggle of smartarses who quite literally tweet for a living. Every single one of us should be politically engaged, and able to formulate a strong, intelligent, cohesive case for socialism.

We need to start coaching ourselves. As the privations are piled on, as an ever greater proportion of the working class start to advance, we will increasingly need a mass, popular culture of political discussion and education for our movement. We need to enable everyone, from our leaders to our most recently enrolled members, to be able and confident to produce cogent arguments for our beliefs. The question of how we build that is obviously multifaceted and long-winded, and deserves to be the subject of its own article. But we must appreciate the enormous popular value that’s been derived from, effectively, a handful of class-conscious workers who could flip the mephitic mass media on its head because they had media training and the support of their comrades. This is only the beginning.

With these rail strikes, the RMT has undoubtedly emboldened their fellow trade unionists, in the transport sector and beyond, to set their own industrial action into motion. We look set to see thousands of trade union members taking strike action in the coming months. Imagine where our class will be with so many leaders like Mick Lynch.

The Communist Party and the Young Communist League, if we are going to be worthy of the names, must unite these similar but separate working-class struggles into one cohesive, ambitious demand:


James Meechan, is a member of the YCL’s Glasgow branch

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