War, conservatism and union power
in What about the workers?
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The fall of Neville Chamberlain and the emergence of the Churchill coalition had crucial consequences for the party’s relationship with the unions. The shift under the Coalition to ‘a people’s war’, symbolised by the Labour Party’s presence and particularly by Ernest Bevin’s role at the Ministry of Labour and National Service, produced a significant increase in the influence and political weight of the organised working class. Conservatives recognised this, but proved unable to develop an effective response, although, as prime minister, Churchill was able to hold the line in a couple of cases to the satisfaction of the party. The Conservative critique of the unions underwent little significant change, but the reappearance of industrial conflict in 1944, changes in public policy that favoured the working class and, of course, electoral defeat in 1945 stimulated grave disquiet.

What about the workers?

The Conservative Party and the organised working class in modern British politics.

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