What happened to the Labour Party?

RMT leader Mick Lynch (Photo: RMT)

Three days of RTM strikes put trade union action into the national spotlight for the first time in a long time.

Tens of thousands of workers walked out in support of a pay rise which keeps inline with rising inflation as well as improving conditions on the railway.

Union leader Mick Lynch has risen to TV and social media fame in the last week, and with good reason.

In a ruthless few days, Lynch faced up to presenters and government officials with frank and efficient responses as to why his union are striking.

Yet his impact on national media and as a trade unionist is far more impressive when you look past how he says things and look at what he says.

His words are to the point. They have no trace of spin or hot air which often dominates answers from individuals involved in high intensity political debates.

He represents working class people, and speaks for exactly those people. For all of these headlines, he has been keen to disassociate himself from being the leading man.

Lynch wants what is best for the working class of this country, but has continued to make the effort of the strike his main priority.

Speaking from a picket line in London on Saturday, Mick Lynch said: “I certainly don’t want to be some kind of icon. Our job is to deliver the most effective action and articulate our case. Millions of people in this country face lower living standards and the stripping out of occupational pensions. We’re not going to accept that.

“We’ve got the most peculiar economic situation in this country with full employment and falling wages. Covid has been a smokescreen for the rich and powerful in this country to drive down wages as far as they can.”

Mick Lynch has also regularly pointed out that the Labour Party, a party born out of the trade union movement by working class people, have in recent years seemingly forgotten their roots.

“Labour politicians, since Blair, have not identified with working class people. And failing to do that is one of the problems they’ve got in working class communities”.

This came just days after Labour MP’s were discouraged from joining the RMT picket lines, a warning that many MP’s ignored and instead joined workers in solidarity.

Most recently, Labour MP David Lammy told the BBC that he doesn’t support British Airways taking strike action at Heathrow Airport.

The party of the working class is trying its best to distance itself from being the party of the working class.

Labour are a shadow of their predecessors, the grassroots party which came into existence to protect the rights of working class people.

Trade Unions will be looking past Labour as a party to affiliate with and support as the party, or at least some of the senior members of the party, have shown they have little or no time for supporting the workers.

This strike is over, but there will be more to come — and when the next trade union walks over pay, or pensions, or working conditions, it will be interesting to see if the disdain from the Labour Party continues, or if the impact of chiefs such as Mick Lynch will push members of the party into realising the importance of backing strike action by workers.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Patrick Hollis

Patrick Hollis

I am a journalist with an honours degree from Coventry University. I’m a published author and journalist with several years experience