Increasing antipathy in the Parliamentary Labour Party
in Comrades in conflict
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In this chapter, we examine the opposition which In Place of Strife aroused among many of the Labour Government’s backbench MPs. Initially, this emanated from two discrete sections of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP), the first of which was the left-wing Tribune Group, who resented the assumption that workers and unions were to blame for the problems intrinsic to capitalism, and therefore needed to be subjected to statutory curbs which never applied to the conduct of big business or employers. The second source of intra-Party opposition emanated from Labour MPs sponsored by trade unions. Although some of these were also members of the Tribune Group, the clear majority were not, and as such, opposition to industrial relations legislation spanned the PLP ideologically; it was not confined solely to ‘the usual suspects’ on the left. We also explain how PLP opposition increased further when Wilson and Castle decided, in April 1969, that an interim Industrial Relations Bill was needed; some previously supportive MPs resented being ‘bounced’ in this manner, particularly as a new, ostensibly more disciplinarian, Chief Whip was appointed, leading to complaints of heavy-handed tactics to enforce compliance.

Comrades in conflict

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


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