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.
On the 27th October 2021 History & Policy hosted an online event: Recovering from the Pandemic - A workshop on The Future for Employment and Skills. The workshop was organised by the History and Policy Trade Union and Employment Forum, a group of senior trades unionists and academics, and is sponsored by History & Policy at the Institute for Historical Research.
As we chart our way out of the current crisis what are the lessons of history? How can we build a fairer and stronger economy better able to withstand future shocks, not least from climate change? How can we overcome labour shortages and ensure that everyone has the chance to gain the skills we need? How can we help those hardest hit by the pandemic: women, the low paid and unskilled? We hear from the General Secretary of the UK’s largest Trade Union, from a leading historian, from an expert on Labour Law, from a leading Employer representative, from the TUC and from the Labour Party shadow minister for FE and skills.
Professor Claire Langhamer (Director of the Institute of Historical Research)
Chair: Professor Philip Murphy (Director of History & Policy, Institute of Historical Research, School of Advanced Study)
Chair: Sarah Veale (CBE, former Head of Equality and Employment Rights at the TUC)
On Monday 13th September 2021, the History & Policy Trade Union & Employment Forum hosted an online seminar on instances of TUC and union promotion of dignity at work seen through the lens of Walter Citrine’s career as General Secretary and President of the International Federation of Trade Unions from the 1920s to the 1950s.
You can catch up on the launch event event of Dr Jim Moher's book- Walter Citrine: Forgotten Statesman of the Trades Union Congress. Jim is a former national trade union official and now historian.
Image Credit: Walter Citrine (1st left, front row) with a group of the TUC General Council members attending the 1943 Trade Union Congress held in Southport. The President of the 1943 congress was Dame Anne Loughlin. Blackpool Gazette & Herald Ltd-TUC Library Collections, London Metropolitan University.
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