Are Conservatives ‘now the party of work’? The Trade Union Bill suggests not…

 

Professor Michael Ford QC joined the Bristol law School in 2015 and specialises in labour law, human rights and public law.

Professor Michael Ford QC joined the Bristol law School in 2015 and specialises in labour law, human rights and public law.

Tonia Novitz is Professor of Labour Law, specialising in labour law, international trade and human rights.

Tonia Novitz is Professor of Labour Law, specialising in labour law, international trade and human rights.

On 5 October 2015, George Osborne declared that the Conservative are ‘now the party of work, the only true party of labour’. The Trade Union Bill presented to Parliament in July 2015 demonstrates the hollowness of this claim. This proposed legislation has had little attention from the media but promises to place alarming restrictions on the rights of workers and their trade unions, probably in anticipation of deep budgetary cuts affecting the public sector which are, of course, likely to generate protest…

The measures in the Bill include: changes to the already very strict balloting requirements on strikes; new restrictions on peaceful picketing; new rules on the political activity of trade unions; restrictions on trade unions’ facility time in the public sector (with check off also in the Government’s sights); and greater controls on trade unions by the Certification Office. At the same time, the Government has published draft regulations allowing employers to hire agency workers as strike-breakers, and proposes further restrictions on protests organised by trade unions.

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Making thin air solid: the politics of Thatcherism today

Jamie Melrose, School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies

Mr Jamie Melrose, School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies

Lady Thatcher is no longer with us: the ideological project that bears her name, Thatcherism, is still alive, despite premature obituaries. Re-reading The Politics of Thatcherism[1] (PoT), an edited collection of essays as responsible as anything for Thatcherism’s definition, is rather relevant. If Thatcherism is still with us, it would make sense for the conclusions of PoT to be so too.

In some of the condemnatory criticism of Margaret Thatcher’s transformation of British political culture, there is a surprising political subtext: a grudging respect for how successful Thatcherism has been. Just as the Prime Minister admired his partisan rival, Tony Blair, critics such as Slavoj Žižek come to bury and praise Thatcher. Left-wing critics of Thatcherism look on in awe at that most difficult of tasks: hegemony in a pluralist demos.

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