Historical Studies in Industrial Relations

Right-Wing Pressure Groups and the Anti-Union ‘Movement’ in Britain: Aims of Industry, Neoliberalism, and Industrial Relations Reform, 1942–1997

Historical Studies in Industrial Relations (2019), 40, (1), 69–101.

Abstract

In the second half of the twentieth century, right-wing pressure groups in Britain linked to corporate interests and the Conservative Party made a significant contribution to ideological critiques that framed trade unions as overly powerful and politicized, while also engaging in more practical interventions to influence specific policies, legislation, and wider forms of anti-union activity. This article analyses these pressure groups, focusing on Aims of Industry, established in 1942 by industrialists with Conservative Party affiliations to oppose state intervention in the wider economy. From the 1970s it increasingly focused on industrial relations reform, militancy and ‘subversion’ in industry. A wide range of firms made donations to Aims. It played a pivotal role in connecting wider networks of right-wing pressure groups. The impact on Conservative policy, in opposition and government, is assessed.

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Author details

Mustchin, Stephen