The Origins of the Trades Union Congress

At a moment in British life when official policy on prices and incomes is troubling many devoted Socialists, the Trades Union Congress celebrates its centenary, writes Patrick Renshaw.

In its centenary year, the Trades Union Congress has been awaiting the report of a Royal Commission which has redefined its powers in the modern world. No one can doubt the power that the trade unions, with more than eight million members, wield over British economic, political and social life.

The whole economic programme of Mr. Harold Wilson’s Labour Government, and with it the balance of payments, the parity of sterling, the nation’s prosperity, and perhaps even the future of Britain’s traditional democratic processes, may depend on the TUC’s ability to persuade its members to accept Mr. Wilson’s incomes policy.

In such a situation, it scarcely needed the Queen’s presence at the centenary dinner to signify that the trade unions are, indeed, an estate of the realm.

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