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)
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)
his seminar will explore the history of Trade Union Education - both learning for activists and broader learning for members. It will discuss current issues and how to shape future Trade Union Learning. It aims to guide the planning for a much larger all-day conference in early February 2023.
Join us for a lively debate on a highly topical area. The loss of the Union Learning Fund and almost all Trade Union Education funding was of course deplorable. On the other hand, the Unison College shows the appetite for growth and new ideas. There is almost universal agreement that UK skills are comparatively low, yet government funding in Adult Education and employer investment in skills remain completely inadequate. The Pandemic has shown the capability of online learning, helping thousands of Union members and activists to access education, including many women and others who might previously have found it difficult to find time to travel to a classroom - but is this at the cost of face to face solidarity? What is the role for Unions in their members’ education?
Chair: Professor John Holford of Nottingham University who will both Chair and provide an initial historical overview, looking at the key issues including the role of employers, funding from government, the Trade Union Curriculum, the role of the TUC and meeting the needs of a rapidly changing trade Union membership.
ONLINE BOOK LAUNCH
Recorded on 24 March 2021
The History & Policy Trade Union & Employment Forum is launching an important new biography of this former giant of the Labour movement - Walter Citrine: Forgotten Statesman of the Trades Union Congress. The author, Dr Jim Moher, a former national trade union official and now historian, will be launching it in conjunction with the Institute of Historical Research, University of London and his colleagues in the History and Policy Trade Union & Employment Forum.
Lord John Monks, a distinguished former General Secretary of the TUC (and European TUC), who has a Foreword in the book, will interview Jim about Citrine. This will be followed by questions and a general discussion with full audience participation.
Thursday 21 May 2020, 6pm-8pm
Andrew Brady will introduce his recent book:
Unions and Employment in a Market Economy, Strategy, Influence and Power in Contemporary Britain (Routledge 2019)
Other speakers include Sir Ian McCartney and Tom Wilson.
The Seminar was chaired by Helen Hague
Andrew Brady was awarded his PhD from the University of Strathclyde in 2017. He has held various positions within Unite the Union and is currently based in Scotland in the union’s Political, Research & Campaigns Unit.
Sir Ian McCartney was Shadow Minister, Minister of State, and Cabinet Minister 1992–2007 and led the Labour Government’s work on employment and employment rights.
Tom Wilson was Director of Unionlearn at the TUC until 2017. He has also worked for the GMB, the Labour Party as Trade Union Liaison Officer, the AUT and Natfhe (now UCU).
Helen Hague is a journalist and has recently worked on a history of the Fire Brigades Union.
H&P is based at the Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, University of London.
We are the only project in the UK providing access to an international network of more than 500 historians with a broad range of expertise. H&P offers a range of resources for historians, policy makers and journalists.