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Individual Liberty Versus Industrial Order: Conservatives and the Trade Union Closed Shop 1946-90

Dorey, Peter 2009. Individual Liberty Versus Industrial Order: Conservatives and the Trade Union Closed Shop 1946-90. Contemporary British History 23 (2) , pp. 221-244. 10.1080/13619460802636458

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Although the Conservative Party was always ideologically antipathetic towards compulsory trade union membership, in the guise of the ‘closed shop’, it was not until the 1980s that it finally succeeded in outlawing this aspect of British trade unionism. Hitherto, the Conservatives had sought to secure a balance between two conflicting stances: instinctive and ideological abhorrence at the denial of individual liberty which the trade union closed shop represented and pragmatic acceptance that the closed shop could actually facilitate industrial order and stability, and that for this very reason, was often tacitly endorsed by many employers. Many Conservatives were also concerned that even if they did outlaw the closed shop, it was likely to be driven underground, whereupon even worse abuses might go undetected. Consequently, the post-war period until the election of the Thatcher Government was characterised by ongoing debates in the Conservative Party over how best to secure a balance between both individual liberty and industrial order and between a majority in a trade union supporting a closed shop and a minority opposing it.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Department of Politics and International Relations (POLIR)
Subjects: J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN101 Great Britain
Uncontrolled Keywords: Closed Shop; Collective Bargaining; Liberty; Order; Stability
Publisher: Routledge
ISSN: 1361-9462
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 03:15

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