History Of Trade Unions Essay

Dr Alf Crossman is not connected to any of the parties mentioned in this article and has not received any financial or non-financial rewards or incentives to express these opinions.The views expressed are those of the author and are not intended to reflect or represent those of the University of Surrey or its management.However, for the union barons it was to be a short-lived period of unbridled optimism of a return to beer and sandwiches at Number 10 and involvement in national policy making.

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The only way they feel able to change this is through the back door.

The frustration of the trade unions can be traced back to the election of Tony Blair and New Labour in 1997 and the adoption of Third Way politics - whatever that meant.

It was Thatcher who managed to entice upper working class swing voters, known as C2s (defined by the National Readership Survey classifications as “skilled manual workers”), to desert Labour in 1983.

Their support was short-lived and they swung back to Labour en masse in 1997; in 2010 they were back with the Tories.

The election of New Labour heralded a departure from the left-wing politics of 1970s Labour and the rejection of the true socialist ideology.

Nothing characterised this more than the removal of Clause IV from the Labour Party Constitution: To secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equitable distribution thereof that may be possible upon the basis of the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, and the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service.This essay on the Labour Party and its relationship with the working class and the trade union movement in Britain is part of a series of articles marking the launch of The Conversation in the UK.Our foundation essays are longer than our usual comment and analysis articles and take a wider look at key issues affecting society.Can he articulate a vision that would portray Labour as fiscally responsible while remaining a party that holds the interests of the working class at its core? That Labour’s relationship with the British working class has changed fundamentally over the past three decades is not in dispute.Demographic shifts have caused a drift away from union membership and towards home ownership and other measures of aspirational upward mobility.After 1997, frequent visits by union leaders to No 10 Downing Street were now consigned to history as New Labour appeared to distance itself from the labour movement in an attempt to re-badge itself and to remain electable, as it proved to be in the two subsequent elections.The expectation that the Thatcherite anti-union legislation would be repealed at the first opportunity was not realised.Yet a recent report from the think tank British Future found 57% of the public consider themselves working class compared to only 36% who identify as middle class.The question for Miliband and his advisers is how to shape the Labour Party, both in image and platform, to renew its relationship with both of these groups - but particularly the working class.Recent figures indicate Labour leading the race for the C2s by 7 to 9 percentage points.Len Mc Cluskey of Unite, a self-confessed critic of Tony Blair and New Labour, has the clear objective of returning the Labour Party to the working classes, but could it be that Mc Cluskey is too late?


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