What about the workers?

The Conservative Party and the organised working class in British politics

By Andrew Taylor

What about the workers?


  • Hardcover
  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-0361-1
  • Pages: 288
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £22.50
  • Published Date: April 2024
  • BIC Category: British and Irish Politics, Politics & government, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Comparative Politics, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Social Classes, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Ideologies / Conservatism & Liberalism, Society & social sciences / Social classes, Society & social sciences / Politics & government, Society & social sciences / Conservatism & right-of-centre democratic ideologies
  • Series: New Perspectives on the Right


The relationship between the Conservative Party and the organised working class is fundamental to the making of modern British politics. The organised working class, though always a minority, was perceived by Conservatives as a challenge and many union members dismissed the Conservatives as the bosses' party.

Why, throughout its history, was the Conservative Party seemingly accommodating towards the organised working class that it ideology would seem to permit? And why, in the space of a relatively few years in the 1970s and 1980s, did it abandon this heritage? For much of its history party leaders calculated they had more to gain from inclusion but during the 1980s Conservative governments marginalised the organised working class to a degree that not so very long ago would have been thought inconceivable.


1 Contentious politics
2 One nation and voluntarism
3 Educating labour?
4 Conservatives, unions and governance
5 War, conservatism and union power
6 Milk and water socialism
7 The smack of firm government
8 Confronting the British Disease
9 The enemy within



Andrew Taylor is Emeritus Professor of Politics at the University of Sheffield

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