A brief history of British trade unions and neoliberalism in the age of New Labour

McIlroy, John (2008) A brief history of British trade unions and neoliberalism in the age of New Labour. In: Trade Unions in a Neoliberal World: British Trade Unions under New Labour. Daniels, Gary and McIlroy, John, eds. Routledge Research in Employment Relations . Routledge, London, pp. 63-97. ISBN 9780415426633, pbk-ISBN 9780415603096, e-ISBN 9780203887738. [Book Section] (doi:10.4324/9780203887738-9)


Political history amply affirms that policies forged in opposition and elaborated in the heat of an election campaign may fail to withstand the tests of government and changing and challenging political and economic circumstance. Old Labour governments had been almost routinely excoriated for betraying their electoral promises, changing tack or turning tail when confronted with unforeseen but perhaps foreseeable pressures. This time, New Labour argued, things would be different: ‘they had got their betrayal in first.’ The new leadership contrived what it perceived as a pressure-proof programme: it was not only calculated to impress the electorate with its realism and competence, it would seamlessly translate into the practice of a government, which like that of an admired predecessor was not for turning. New Labour inherited a strong economy. It possessed a large majority and confronted a divided and demoralized Conservative opposition (Kavanagh 2007: 3-4). Nonetheless there was no shortage of academics hazarding that New Labour essentially represented a necessary exercise in rebranding, calculated to win a majority. They believed the social democratic soul of the Labour Party would reassert itself to reveal a reforming government rooted in party tradition and a clean break with Thatcherism (Kenney and Smith 1997; McAnulla 1999).

Item Type: Book Section
Research Areas: A. > Business School
A. > Centre for Education Research and Scholarship (CERS)
Item ID: 14257
Useful Links:
Depositing User: John Mcilroy
Date Deposited: 30 Jan 2015 10:29
Last Modified: 15 May 2021 03:29
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/14257

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Activity Overview
6 month trend
6 month trend

Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.