Poll: voters split over rail strikes

Poll: voters split over rail strikes
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Mick Lynch has become something of a break-out star since his round of media interviews on Tuesday. The boss of the Rail and Maritime Transport union has won many fans on the left for his uncompromising views on the industrial action which brought chaos across the country this week. But it seems that, for all his undoubted media savvy, it's far from clear whether Lynch's case has had any cut-through with the public.

For a new poll of 1,500 adults for The Spectator by Redfield and Wilton on Wednesday found that, a day after the union walkout, 41 per cent opposed and 32 per cent support the rail workers’ strike to achieve pay rises in line with inflation. This is up from 1 June when 35 per cent supported and 29 per cent opposed the strike. By a ten point margin, voters also agree with Boris Johnson’s criticism of the strike as an ‘unnecessary aggravation’, with 42 per cent sharing this view compared to 32 per cent who disagree.

Exactly half (50 per cent) of the public now fear the risk of a 'wage-price spiral,' with only 15 per cent being willing to pay more in transit fares so that the strike can end. Voters share Sir Keir Starmer's doubts about whether to back the industrial action, with 31 per cent arguing that Labour should oppose it. This is narrowly more than the 29 per cent who think that Labour should support the strikes versus the 25 per cent who think the party should remain neutral.

Blame is also shared as to who is blame for the strike: 37 per cent say the unions but nearly a third (32 per cent) opt for the government. Unsurprisingly, that means that 38 per cent say the rail unions will receive 'more blame' from them the longer the strike goes on, while 33 per cent saying so for ministers in Westminster. While Boris Johnson's team may take some heart from such findings, the voters aren't entirely happy with some of his choices, with nearly half (46 per cent) finding it 'contradictory' for the government to increase universal credit and state pensions in line with inflation but not the wages of public sector employees.

And they better ought to watch out for future strikes too, with 47 per cent of the public willing to support nurses and doctors going on strike. With union activists in these professions beginning to flex their muscles, it could well be a summer of discontent facing Johnson and his colleagues soon.

Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to or message @MrSteerpike

Topics in this articlePoliticsmick lynch