Trade unions and political change in local government : a comparison of Sheffield and Doncaster
The new urban left in local government from the early 1980s aimed to change the way in which local councils operate so that the users and providers of council services and the local community could gain greater control over the development and provision of council services. Material is produced and analysed to show that the aims of the new urban left Labour councils in this area were, at best, only partially successful. The findings of a comparative case study into industrial relations in Sheffield City Council and Doncaster Borough Council will show that the commitments of Sheffield City Council, on the industrial relations front, as set out in District Labour Party election manifestos, council documents and statements by ex Leader of the Council David Blunkett, have been unfulfilled. Theoretical insights into the relationship between socialism and trade union praxis, the position of professional workers in advanced capitalist society and the theory and practice of new urban left councils will be advanced to help explain the lack of progress. The argument that Labour councils need to think more strategically in order to overcome the structural and institutional obstacles to radical change is advanced. A number of issues highlighted in the literature on the new urban left are considered. Original material affecting the understanding of the relationship between different council trade unions and Labour councils is produced. Arising out of the case study, the role played by senior council officers and leading councillors in the policy making and policy implementation process and the relationship between councillors and senior officers in two different Labour councils is explored. New insights into those areas are produced. Important issues and areas requiring further research are highlighted.