"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen."

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Blast From The Past

Strikesdread re-visited:

Social Contract

In 1974 Edward Heath called and lost an election, and Labour's Harold Wilson replaced him. Wilson made an agreement with the unions called the Social Contract. The new government scrapped the Industrial Relations Act and increased a number of benefits. In return, the TUC tried to keep wages down. But it wasn't a success. Inflation increased prices steadily throughout the 1970s, reaching a peak of 28%. The influence of shop stewards in local negotiations increased the demand for higher and higher pay rises averaging over 26% in 1975. Inflation and wages were part of a spiral, one causing the other. They also caused unemployment, which began to rise in the late 1970s. By this time, even the Labour government had become concerned by the actions of the unions.
Another of Wilson's actions was to set up ACAS, the Advisory and Conciliation Service to help resolve disputes. In 1975 alone it helped to resolve 2,500 disputes.

Winter of Discontent
A new Labour Prime Minister, James Callaghan, took over in 1976. By this time the government was in serious financial trouble and had to cut back on spending, which brought it into conflict with the unions. From 1978 until 1979 Callaghan was faced with strikes from teachers, health workers and local government employees and the prospect of a new pay demand from the miners. This Winter of Discontent forced Callaghan to call another election. Much of the electorate, and many trade unionists, were fed up with Labour policies on unions and wanted a government that would control the extremists. The Conservatives had a new leader who promised to do exactly that - Margaret Thatcher.
Danny Finkelstein's recollections
What year is it?


  1. Tricky one for Cameron to deal with, though. Unite believes that more jobs will be lost under Cameron!

  2. It's a reminder of what waits round the corner if Labour are re-elected or we get a hung parliament though - not great.


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