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Left-of-Centre Parties and Trade Unions in the Twenty-First Century$
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Elin Haugsgjerd Allern and Tim Bale

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198790471

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198790471.001.0001

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No Place Else To Go

No Place Else To Go

The Labour Party and the Trade Unions in the UK

(p.246) 13 No Place Else To Go
Left-of-Centre Parties and Trade Unions in the Twenty-First Century

Paul Webb

Tim Bale

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the party–union relationship in Britain, and its many trials and tribulations—especially when Labour has gone into government. Yet it remains an integrated, organic one insofar as the formal affiliation of some unions continues to exist and continues to carry with it rights of representation and influence in the party’s institutions and procedures, its structures, and its processes. After Tony Blair became party leader in the mid-1990s, however, the party–union relationship did become more difficult, coming to rest less on a sense of shared values and identity and more on limited instrumental exchanges of resources (from unions to party) and policy commitments (from party to unions). The election of a radically left-wing leader in September 2015 has led the more radical elements in both party and unions to look forward to a rapprochement, but things may not be quite so easy—especially if that leader’s policies threaten union members’ jobs or render the party unelectable.

Keywords:   Labour Party, unions, party funding, affiliation, left-wing, leadership

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