Cabinet demurrals and diminishing Ministerial support
in Comrades in conflict
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This chapter examines how and why the publication of In Place of Strife, which proposed comprehensive industrial relations legislation, immediately prompted disagreements and divisions in the Cabinet. These differing perspectives did not simply or solely reflect Labour's traditional ideological divisions between the Party's left and right, but were shaped by other factors which resulted in the White Paper receiving a mixed welcome. A major issue concerned what became known as the 'penal clauses', which some Ministers opposed either as a matter of principle, or because they doubted their likely efficacy and enforceability. The chapter also highlights the divergent views about the proposed timescale; how much time should be allocated to consultation with the trade unions between publishing In Place of Strife and introducing legislation? Also highlighted is a further source of intra-Cabinet division, between those Ministers with a background in trade unionism, most notably James Callaghan, who opposed the proposed industrial relations legislation, and some of their pro-legislation Cabinet colleagues who were deemed to be middle class ‘academics’ who had little understanding or experience of life in industry, and thus the causes of conflicts between workers and bosses.

Comrades in conflict

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

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