Comrades in conflict

Labour, the trade unions and 1969's In Place of Strife

By Peter Dorey

Comrades in conflict


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Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-3828-6
  • Pages: 240
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: April 2019
  • BIC Category: Trade unions, United Kingdom, Great Britain, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Comparative Politics, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Labor & Industrial Relations, Humanities / British & Irish history, Economics, finance, business & management / Trade unions, Society & social sciences / Politics & government, Political parties, c 1960 to c 1969


On the 50th anniversary of In Place of Strife, this scholarly study makes extensive use of previously unpublished archival and other primary sources to explain why Harold Wilson and Barbara Castle embarked on legislation to regulate the trade unions and curb strikes, and why this aroused such strong opposition, not just from the unions, but within the Cabinet and among backbench Labour MPs. This opposition transcended the orthodox ideological divisions, making temporary allies of traditional adversaries in the Party. Even Wilson's threats either to resign, or call a general election, if his MPs and Ministers failed to support him and Castle, were treated with derision. His colleagues called Wilson's bluff, and forced him to abandon the legislation, in return for a 'solemn and binding' pledge by the trade unions to 'put their own house in order' in tackling strikes.


'Dorey's detailed yet highly engaged text will become a reference point and benchmark for rethinking the decline of the post-war social-democratic consensus and the nuances of industrial-relations politics. It is well written and a significant insight into the Labour Party and trade union movement of the time. It also reveals the importance of locating the specifics of political discussions and choices in the realm of political relations and historical contexts.'
Labour History Review


List of tables
List of abbreviations
1 Emergence and Identification of the Problem
2 The Donovan Commission and its Report
3 The Initial Political response
4 Cabinet Demurrals and Diminishing Ministerial Support
5 Increasing Antipathy in the Parliamentary Labour Party
6 The Trade Unions' Implacable Hostility
7 A 'Solemn and Binding' Agreement


Peter Dorey is Professor of British Politics in the School of Law and Politics at Cardiff University

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