Under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, New Labour was in power longer than any previous Labour government. However, its economic and employment policies have remained controversial. These include ‘third way’ concepts like the enabling state and flexible labour markets, as well as a new emphasis on individual employment rights and the National Minimum Wage. A decade on, this event explores some policy lessons from the New Labour experience, read in three historical contexts: the prior experience of Thatcherism and the UK’s transition to a service economy; the earlier history of Labour in power; and wider trends in European social democracy. The day will also consider New Labour’s influence on the Conservative-led governments that followed and current political debates about work, from a variety of perspectives.
0:00 Welcome | Philip Murph (Director of History & Policy, Institute of Historical Research)
5:11 Session 1 | New Labour at work: framing the debate
Chair: John Edmonds (former Gen Sec GMB)
• Peter Ackers (Industrial Relations historian)
21:09 Session 2 | Witness Panel: New Labour’s contested legacy
Chair: Helen Hague (journalist)
• Jon Cruddas (Labour MP)
• John Monks (former Gen Sec TUC & ETUC)
2:00:13 Session 3 | After New Labour: wider policy lessons
Chair: Helen Hague (journalist)
• Anne-Marie Greene (Industrial Relations academic)
• Sarah Veale (former TUC head Equality and Employment Rights)
3:10:25 Session 4 | After New Labour: wider policy lessons
Chair: Philip Murphy (Director of History & Policy, Institute of Historical Research)
• Patrick Diamond (Historian of New Labour)
• Adrian Williamson (Historian of post-war Britain)
Change in Trade Unions by Roger Undy, Bill McCarthy, Valerie Ellis and Tony Halmos was originally published in 1981 just after the end of the strongest decade for the UK trade union movement, with membership reaching its height in 1979. It is being republished in December 2022, which provides an ideal opportunity to revisit its findings on how trade unions really operated then and what are the lessons for today’s very different industrial relations scene. It also provides a full opportunity to review the approach at that time to the study of trade unions and industrial relations by what came to be called the "Oxford School". Two of the four authors of the 1981 book will be on the panel, together with a trade union leader from the time and a specialist in the work of the "Oxford School" of industrial relations.
Recorded on 7 March 2023 in Seante House, University of London.
Are the British Royal Family the real enemies of history? Over the decades they have actively suppressed uncomfortable narratives about themselves. Hundreds of files in the national and royal archives remain inaccessible to the general public, files that many would argue are of public interest. The result? Holes in our country's history.
These are some of the conclusions from the team at the magazine Index on Censorship, who carried out an investigation into royal historical censorship for their Winter issue. As part of the launch of the magazine, a panel of speakers will discuss the findings alongside their experiences of trying to access historical archives. This will be a lively discussion and one with heightened importance following the death of Queen Elizabeth II in September and ahead of the coronation of Charles III in the spring.
Speaking on the panel will be:
The event will be chaired by Jemimah Steinfeld, editor-in-chief at Index on Censorship.
Research by the Trades Union Congress has shown that 3.7 million workers in the UK – one in nine of the total workforce – are in insecure work. Zero hours contracts have proliferated across the last decade, while the recent P&O scandal has highlighted the importance of security at work. What would a Labour government do differently? The party has set out proposals for a New Deal for Working People. What impact would this New Deal have, and what does the experience of previous attempts by Labour to extend employment rights suggest for the prospects of change?
Chair: James Parker (Department of History, University of York)
The scale and severity of the financial and political crisis triggered by the Truss administration’s ‘mini-budget’ of 23 September 2022 have left commentators searching for comparable emergencies. ‘Black Wednesday’ 1992 has frequently been mentioned. Those with longer memories have cast their minds back to the Sterling Crises of 1967 and 1976 or the reversal of the 1972 ‘dash-for-growth’. Comparisons have even been drawn with the Suez Crisis of 1956, when a sudden and humiliating reversal of foreign policy led to the downfall of prime minister, Anthony Eden.
In this special discussion co-hosted by History & Policyand the Mile End Institute, an expert panel discussed the historical precedents and try to identify the lessons they might offer to contemporary policy-makers.
Chair: Philip Murphy (Director, History & Policy)
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