WHAT a time of it Mishal Husain is having. The BBC Today presenter has been involved in two major dust-ups in a matter of days.

First, Meghan Markle dismissed Husain’s interview with the newly engaged royal couple as an “orchestrated reality show”. Then Mick Lynch, leader of the RMT, accused the broadcaster of being a parrot for the right-wing establishment, no less.

Husain saw them both off with a withering defence of her impartiality and professionalism. Reports that she fancies her chances against Tyson Fury are probably wide of the mark, but you never know.

The Lynch bout was just part of the general unpleasantness now surrounding the rail strikes and other disputes. Forget unpleasantness, it’s beginning to look a lot like full-on class war out there, with everyone from Mishal Husain and Nicola Sturgeon to Arthur Scargill and Keir Starmer being dragged in. So we come to the eternal question: whose side are you on?

Large sections of the media decided long ago that Mr Lynch was not to their taste. Back in the summer, when the rail strike first began, he attracted grudging admiration for his ability to string a sentence together. He used this dark art, and the facts, to argue his members’ case. Along the way, alas, he exposed a few highly paid television presenters as not very bright. You knew he would pay for that someday, and that day is now.

“Mad”, “the new Scargill”, and "Mick Grinch" are just some of the brickbats sent his way. Mr Lynch was said to have lost his temper during the Husain interview, and in an encounter with Richard Madeley on Good Morning Britain. He’s rattled said a Conservative MP. On the back foot. In a poll (of Mail readers), 98% said striking over Christmas was “going too far”.

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I caught the Husain and Madeley interviews and they did not come across that way to me.

Mr Lynch was wrong to say it was about time Husain “showed some partiality towards your listeners, to working-class people in this country who are being screwed to the floor by the attitudes and policies of this government”. As a BBC employee she has to remain impartial.

But on the whole, the union leader was right to question the BBC’s handling of the dispute. It’s his job to do so. It’s also his right, just as Husain had a right to defend herself.

As for the GMB interview, it was Mr Madeley who was ranting. Imagine spending your whole career in journalism and deciding that the hill you are going to die on is when Christmas starts. He made Alan Partridge’s interview with the Norfolk farmers’ union leader look like David Frost at his finest.

It is not just the RMT leader taking pelters. There is growing criticism of strikers in general, from driving examiners to posties.

While most of this comes from the usual quarters, other opposition is harder to fathom, nowhere more so than in the Labour Party whose leader has told Shadow Ministers not to join picket lines. That’s correct. The party founded by unions, which continues to take union money, wants to distance itself from said unions, or some of them at any rate.

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At Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday, Mr Starmer came out fighting on behalf of the nurses in England, Wales and Northern Island who will be out on strike today for the first time in their history. All very laudable on the Labour leader’s part, but what of everyone else? If Mr Starmer is going to pick and choose who to support he will soon find himself in a tangle.

The UK Government’s strategy for dealing with the strikes is twofold. First, distance themselves from negotiations and pile responsibility on independent pay bodies where possible, even though in most cases the Government has the ultimate say on any deal.

Second, and a classic move this one, wait the strikers out and hope the public gets fed up with the inconvenience, or the strikers get fed up losing pay.

Much has been made by the RMT’s critics of the fall in support among members for strikes, from 89% at the start of the dispute in May to “just” 63% this week.

Given the general cost of living squeeze, fear of big bills in the new year, and the forces of the Government and media ranged against the strikers, I’d say 63% was not bad going.

What the UK Government is relying on most of all is public opinion turning against the strikers. So far, support is holding up in some sectors. In a recent YouGov poll for The Times, 46% blamed the UK Government for nurses and ambulance staff taking action.

The more criticism is piled on healthcare staff and others for striking the greater the pressure will be to give in. No one wants an operation cancelled or their children’s education to be set back. But to those who fear patients will suffer, grades will fall and general decline set in if strikes continue, where have you been for the last decade?

Covid explains some but not all of the problems. No one who has been near a hospital could believe the NHS was doing just fine till 2020. Consider any aspect of everyday life and ask yourself if it is better or worse now than in 2010, when the Conservative and Lib Dems entered government and imposed austerity.

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Next time Mr Sunak complains in sorrowful tones about union leaders unfairly imposing their will on the public, he should remember that those same men and women have been elected with far more votes than took him back to Downing Street.

And what was his walkout on Boris Johnson if not a withdrawal of labour? Bully boy Sunak, toppling an elected Prime Minister.

Regarding the reckless squandering of public finances, how much did 44 days of Liz Truss and her fellow incompetents cost the country? And don’t let us get started on the continuing scandal surrounding PPE.

These are hard days to be an optimist, but one can only hope that the public picks the right side and stays on it. I have less hope for the UK Government, but let’s be charitable. Furlough or no furlough, help with fuel bills or no help. To govern is to choose, then, now, and always.