Reshaping Labour : Organisation, Work and Politics book cover
1st Edition

Reshaping Labour
Organisation, Work and Politics

ISBN 9781138333987
Published May 12, 2020 by Routledge
296 Pages

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Book Description

First published in 1988. In a few short years during and just after the Great War, the Labour Party and the trade unions established themselves firmly at the centre of the British political and industrial scene. But at the same time, the politics and organisation of both Labour and unions were reshaped.

This is a grass-roots study of a key period in the building of Labour’s political and industrial base. It is a study of how unions and Labour were organised and motivated to seize their moments of destiny – and of how a new political industrial movement was limited by the common-sense of the age in which it was born. It is a study of shifting support for various Labour and Communist political and industrial strategies – of the pressures and struggles which reshaped the movement, stamping on it the character we know today. And it is a study of how labour – at work and in the community – responded to war, to prosperity, to depression.

Table of Contents

List of Tables and Figures;  Abbreviations;  Preface;  1. Introductory  2. Edinburgh After the Great War  3. Standard of Living and the Working Class  4. Economic Development and the Organisation of Work  5. Employers’ Strategies and the Control of Work  6. Trade Union Development: Motivation and Organisation  7. Labour Politics and the Impact of War  8. The Reorganisation of Labour 1917-21  9. The Struggle for Labour Politics  10. Conclusion;  Appendix;  Select Bibliography

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John Holford has been Robert Peers Professor of Adult Education at the University of Nottingham since 2007. He wrote Reshaping Labour while working as a Tutor-Organiser for the Workers’ Educational Association in North Kent. Subsequently he taught in adult education at the University of Hong Kong and the University of Surrey, where he was later founding head of the Politics department.


Business History, 1991, p. 108. (Tony Adams):


English Historical Review April 1991, p. 521 (G.W. Crompton):

"an ambitious study"

Scottish Labour History Society Journal 24 (1989), p. 104 (Jim Smyth):

"a valuable addition to the history of Scottish labour in the twentieth century".

History Today 38, Nov. 1988, p. 58 (Colin Holmes):

"a thorough and meticulous work which will … need to be incorporated into the history of the Labour Party."