- Format: Hardcover
- ISBN: 978-1-5261-7309-6
- Pages: 280
- Price: £20.00
- Published Date: January 2024
In the summer of 2022, the little-known leader of a small union became a 'working-class hero'. Facing down media pundits who thought they could walk all over him, he offered a robust critique of the government and provided workers with an authentic voice. At a time when the Labour Party was unable to articulate a credible alternative to the Tories, Mick Lynch spoke for the working class.
Where did Lynch come from? How did he develop the skills and traits that make him such an effective spokesperson and leader? This book, the first biography of Lynch, explores his family and social background and his rise to the top of the RMT union, which culminated in election as General Secretary in 2021. Considering his persona and politics, this book asks what quality singles out Lynch as a working-class hero compared to other union leaders and, more broadly, what leadership means for working people and for the left.
If we want better leaders at every level, the case of Mick Lynch holds the key.
'Few union general secretaries master the news media, but Mick Lynch succeeded in withstanding - and exploiting - hostile questioning from television interviewers. Gregor Gall's insightful account breaks new ground in showing how Lynch built up his public profile, having bypassed - and even thrived on - the union bashing of the tabloid press.'
Nicholas Jones, former BBC industrial correspondent and author of Strikes and the Media
'This is a compelling account of a charismatic union leader who emerged in summer 2022 as an articulate public spokesperson with a sharp sense of humour and a vision of social justice for workers that propelled him to national prominence.'
John Kelly, Emeritus Professor of Industrial Relations, Birkbeck
'Mapping Mick Lynch's personal and political trajectory, this book is a serious and engaging attempt to dig deeper into the new forms of radical leadership that have been evolving within the labour movement.'
Professor Miguel Martinez Lucio, Work and Equalities Institute, The University of Manchester
'During the "hot summer" of 2022, Mick Lynch became the face and voice of mass protest against cuts to earnings, condition and services. Lynch's direct, wry voice spoke to us all, and for us all. This brilliant biography tells us how Lynch became a working-class hero, seemingly from nowhere.'
Alan McKinlay, author of Jimmy Reid: A Clyde-Built Man
'A fascinating study of the relationship between trade union struggles and the struggle for socialism.'
Will Podmore, Morning Star
'Packed with fascinating insight'
Patrick Maguire, The Times
'Gall's thoughtful analysis is likely to remain the definitive introduction.'
Desmond Bullen, Northern Soul
'Has insights for those of us who see rank and file organisation at the base of the unions as the key to success.'
Charlie Kimber, Socialist Worker
'Workers on the rail and beyond need to evaluate the strike wave. Gall's book will be a useful aid for that.'
'Lessons of what methods work to create power over the bosses, what sort of leadership is effective in using those methods and others will need to be drawn out of the experience of this struggle, as part of the rearming of the working class as a whole. For trade unionists and socialists, this book is a useful contribution to that process.'
Connor Rosoman, International Socialist Alternative
1 Approaching Lynch: the framework
2 What is a 'working-class hero'?
3 Sparks fly! Boyhood and blacklisted but back again
4 Working for the union
5 Becoming General Secretary
6 A 'working-class hero' is made
7 Power and participation
8 Social democracy and socialism: reform and revolution
Gregor Gall is Visiting Professor of Industrial Relations at the University of Leeds and author of Bob Crow: Socialist, leader, fighter (2017) and The punk rock politics of Joe Strummer (2022)