The initial political response
in Comrades in conflict
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This chapter explains how disappointment with the conservatism of the Donovan Report prompted Barbara Castle, with Harold Wilson’s full support, to develop her own proposals for industrial relations reform, culminating in the 1969 White Paper In Place of Strife. In addition to her own conviction of the need for a more orderly system of industrial relations and collective bargaining, which she considered integral to a planned Socialist society, we examine how support for industrial relations legislation had recently increased in her Department, due to the changing attitudes of some senior civil servants. It is not that Castle was persuaded by these mandarins to adopt a more legalistic approach to industrial relations, but that the changing Departmental ethos vindicated and emboldened her, and ensured that her senior officials broadly supported her approach, rather than trying to dissuade her from ambition or radicalism. This chapter also highlights the importance of a weekend seminar which Castle chaired at the civil service training college in Berkshire, in November 1968. This seminar discussed options for industrial relations reform, and played a major role in crystallising Castle’s ideas and proposals, for within six weeks the draft White Paper had been written.

Comrades in conflict

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


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