Public now support rail strikes after Mick Lynch TV studio tour, poll finds

Public opinion has shifted dramatically in support of rail strikes by the RMT trade union, a new poll has found.

Pollsters Opinium found 45 per cent of the public now say they support the stoppages, with just 37 per cent opposed.

The shift in views by a net 12 points comes after RMT general secretary Mick Lynch took to television and radio studios last week to make his union’s case to the public.

His frank and direct appearances won plaudits from across the political spectrum on social media, though it was at the time unclear whether the polls could shift.

Yet the new figures, polled on Sunday after the dust settled on round one of the dispute, show support for the strike rising +7 percentage points from the same poll question on Thursday, and opposition falling by -6 percentage points.

Polling ahead of the strike was mixed, with pollsters suggesting that people believed the walk-outs were justified, but stopping short of full support.

Yet that ambiguity appears to have disappeared in the wake of the three days of action, which saw workers from over a dozen operators and the infrastructure manager Network Rail walk out over job losses and a below-inflation pay deal.

In a statement, the RMT said: “It takes time to change public opinion. It is no easy task. However, day by day and hour by hour more people see through the Tory lies about ‘modernisation’ and realise just how vital it is to support rail workers.”

The government was widely criticised for refusing to intervene ahead of the strike, failing to sit down with unions and employers to strike out a deal.

The RMT has said more strikes could take place if the dispute is not resolved.

But since the stoppages transport secretary Grant Shapps has upped the rhetoric against the rail workers, accusing them of outdated work practices.

Labour leader Keir Starmer banned his frontbenchers from supporting the strike on picket lines during the dispute, in an attempt to impress hostile voters and pundits.

But impressed by the latest poll showing widespread public support, Labour MP Jon Trickett said: “The RMT union has shown what strong leadership and clarity of message can do to public opinion. Good leadership is about being a signpost, not a weathervane.”

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