In defence of local government : an immanent critique of labour movement campaigns to defend local democracy, jobs, and services in the 1980s
This thesis constitutes a new approach to the study of labour movement opposition and resistance to Conservative Government policy and practice toward local government in the 1980s. In contrast to previous analyses, for example, this exploration of labour movement activity considers trade union involvement, does not use artificial frameworks, such as New Urban Left, or evaluate subject matter against a priori standards. Examination of the campaigns studied is undertaken within the framework of society as a whole, so that the development of campaign practices and conceptual principles, identified in relation to campaign aims of defending local government services, jobs, and local democracy, are subjected to reciprocal processes of interrogation. This is achieved by examining events within an historical context, that begins with the expansion of local service provision and employment in the 1960s, includes retrenchment of the late 1970s and early 1980s, and concludes with labour movement campaigns against rate capping in the mid-1980s. This period also includes: changes in local democratic practice, in both constitutional and labour movement terms; developments in the composition, organisation, and outlook of constitutive labour movement bodies; and, labour movement responses to attempts to reduce public expenditure, local government service provision, and local government employment. The interrelations between these factors, changing socio-economic developments, conceptual principles and practice within the labour movement, and government policy and practice are all identified and explored as part of this thesis. Similarly, an integral part of this process involves the consideration afforded to interrelations between labour movement officers, leaders, activists, members, and the broader populace; in terms of conceptual principles, the use and development of labour movement structures, and democratic practice. Thus, by exploring the interrelations between the areas identified, as opposed to imposing dichotomous or causalistic interpretations, the fate of the campaigns against rate capping are explained.