Mick Lynch Divides Radio 4 Listeners With Spiky Interview

Did the RMT Union’s general-secretary deliver "low blows" or a "brilliant" takedown of the BBC?
Mick Lynch and Mishal Husain clashed on the Today programme
Mick Lynch and Mishal Husain clashed on the Today programme

Mick Lynch, known for his stellar defence of railway strikes, triggered a more divided reaction on Tuesday after clashing with BBC Radio 4 presenter, Mishal Husain.

The co-host of the Today programme was asking the RMT Union’s general-secretary about the extensive strikes set to bring the rail network to a halt again several times this month.

Lynch was explaining how the rail companies’ pay offers so far are still far from what is desired, and Husain repeatedly challenged this, saying support for industrial action was dwindling among union members.

The pair spoke over each for much of the interview, but they really came to blows when Husain asked how much the workers had lost in pay during the strike period.

Lynch hit back: “Why are you pursuing this line, Mishal?”

“Because you’ve said your members are making a sacrifice,” she replied.

Lynch said: “Yeah but I read this stuff in The Sun, The Daily Mail and The Telegraph – you’ve taken your lines from the right-wing press.”

As they continued to interrupt each other, the Today programme presenter asked: “What’s wrong with just saying, on average, our members have sacrificed X numbers of thousands of pounds? You’ve said they’re making a sacrifice, what’s wrong with putting a number on it?”

“Why do you need that number?”

Husain said: “Because I’m interested in the level of sacrifice.”

“Why aren’t you interested in what Network Rail and the government are doing to working people across this country, impoverishing them every day?”

Both went on to say each of these sentences again in the next few moments, before Husain explained she was asking these questions because of the cost of living crisis and the run up to Christmas.

Lynch cut in: “Why don’t they give us a decent pay rise then? Why don’t you pursue that?”

Husain said it was estimated to be £15,000 in the summer – so asked what the rise was now, but Lynch just repeated his questions about the right-wing press before really digging in.

“I find this a really shocking stance that the BBC will take,” the union boss claimed.

“You’re just parroting the most right-wing stuff you can get hold of on behalf of the establishment, and it’s about time you showed some partiality to your listeners and the working class people in this country who are being screwed to the floor by your attitude and policies in this government.”

Husain replied: “They’re called questions,” and abruptedly ended the interview.

Lynch, who is usually praised for his calm and collected takedown of any questions which undermine the strike action, was then criticised for his more pointed approach this morning.

Som Twitter users said he had dealt “low blows” and was doing RMT “no favours” by taking such a stance with Husain live on radio.

But, not everyone agreed.

Plenty of Twitter users (including some Labour MPs) suggested that Lynch had rightly called out Husain’s line of questioning.

And of course, some people thought both interviewer and interviewee had struggled in the exchange.


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