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The Labour Movement in Britain from Thatcher to Blair

With a Foreword by Jim Mortimer- Extended and Updated Edition


Keith Barlow

British economic and industrial policy since 1979 is examined using a wide range of sources. Was this really «new», revival of earlier approaches or a rigorous extension of the IMF-imposed policies on the 1974-79 Labour Government? The question is asked: Was the creation of a large pool of unemployed labour necessary for reshaping the economy or was the aim to secure fundamental changes in the relations between capital and organised labour? Due to setbacks suffered by trade unions in the 1980s with factory closures and major job losses, the author questions Labour’s motives in softening any meaningful opposition to the Conservatives, supporting ERM in 1990, reducing the role of trade unions in the Party itself and retaining key policies of the Thatcher era especially its trade union laws.


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Introduction 11 Chapter 1: The significance of the post-1945 "consensus" in Bri- 17 tain for the trade union movement 1.1 Economic developments interacting with social consensus 17 1.2 British labour law in the context of consensus politics 38 1.3 Conclusion 57 Chapter 2: The theoretical foundations of Conservative labour 59 relations legislation during the 1980s and 1990s 2.1 The Conservative macroeconomic strategy 59 2.2 The Conservative microeconomic strategy 79 2.3 Conclusion 109 Chapter 3: The link between Conservative macro and micro poli- 111 cies in shaping social strategy following the breakdown of the post-war "consensus": the significance of the common law in pre- serving the "free"- market order Chapter 4: Fundamentals of the labour movement response to the 153 economic and social developments of the 1980s and 1990s and to Conservative trade union legislation 4.1 The impact of the economic and social policies of the Thatcher 153 Government on the trade union movement 4.2 The interlocking of political confrontation with employers' strat- 174 egy for the introduction of new technology and changes in working practices 4.3 Attempts in the labour movement to counter the Conservative 186 trade union legislation 4.4 Conclusion 197 9 Chapter 5: From defeat in 1992 to the New Labour landslide in 199 1997 5.1 "Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory". Labour's policy 199 review and the 1992 election campaign: the ERM disaster 5.2 From Labour to New Labour: the impact of the change of Party 217 leadership on the Party's development in the aftermath...

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