Cabinet papers reveal Conservative plot against trade unions
Cabinet papers published under the 30-year rule show the depth of Thatcher’s ambition to crush the trade unions. The papers reveal that she told the head of her policy unit to “neglect no opportunity to erode trade union membership”.
“We must see to it our new legal structure discourages trade union membership of the new industries,” wrote Ferdinand Mount, then head of her policy unit.
The Guardian reports that the papers show Mount’s demand to ensure that trade union members had to opt in, rather than opt out of the political levy – was regarded as a step too far by Thatcher, who worried it would open up the discussion on companies funding the Conservative Party.
The papers also show the appetite within Thatcher’s Cabinet for a coal strike that would lead to a defeat of the unions. Discussions on withstanding a coal strike went on throughout 1983, a year before pit closures sparked the strike in March 1984.
To coincide, Unions21 announces it’s first Labour Party Conference event:
Margaret Thatcher is the only British Prime Minister to give her name to an ‘ism’. Many commentators argue that the economic revolution she set in train across the world has remained dominant to this day.
Deregulation and privatisation, pillars of Thatcherism – are the pillars of the Conservative led Coalition’s economic strategy.
The challenge to unions is to create a picture of an alternative that is as desirable as it is feasible. Frances O’Grady said recently that only when we see workers elected on to company boards will we know that we have finally broken from the kind of capitalism that she championed.
The Unions21 steering board has chosen as the title for it’s Labour Party Conference Sunday evening fringe meeting: Thatcher, Thatcherism, Unions – Past, Present, Future?
We pose the question: Can a union vision of fair and high quality work replace Thatcherism?
Sunday 22nd September 8.15 PM – 9.30 PM
Castor & Pollux Beach Front Gallery, 165 Kings Road Arches, Brighton
Speakers: Kay Carberry Assistant General Secretary of the TUC, Owen Jones – Writer and commentator. Others TBC