22. TRADE UNIONS AND CO-OPERATIVES

AMONG the free institutions of this country which it is the mission of Conservatives to conserve are the Trade Union Movement and the Co-operative Societies. Conservatives often find it a little difficult to keep patience with the caucuses at present in control of political policy in them, since, by a pure anachronism, they have succeeded in retaining the affiliation of these two powerful vested interests to the Labour Party. Nevertheless, true to their principles of liberty of association and the diffusion of power, most Conservatives would be quite prepared to do political battle to the last for the independence and well-being of both movements. If, as is obviously the case, they have no need of Conservative assistance in this, this is matter for rejoicing; if Conservatives, true to their principle of the rule of law, are for subjecting these corporations to appropriate general rules to be administered impartially by the Courts, it is a matter of regret that it is not accepted as axiomatic that the rule of law applies to all corporations however rich or powerful or however numerous their membership. If Conservatives differ from their leadership in regretting their affiliation to the Labour Party, this, too, is for regret, but they are free to make their own mistakes, and, within limits, to commit their own sins.

Nevertheless it is true, simply as a matter of history, that the Conservative Party was the first to grant real recognition of the full right of trade unions to organise as such. The right of co-operatives has always been implicit in our common law, and was never in doubt. Nevertheless, the actual statutory form which Co-operative Societies take was originally instituted by a Government in which Conservative Ministers served, and has been repeatedly endorsed by Parliaments with Conservative majorities.

It is a mere travesty to describe the Conservatives as "hostile to" or "afraid of" the growing power of the trade unions1. or to represent, as we shall later see Mr. John Strachey2. doing, the

____________________
1.
Cf. Hansard, February 12, 1946, col. 196, per Sir Hartley Shawcross.
2.
See post, chapter 31.

-125-

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The Case for Conservatism
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Part I. Preliminary 7
  • 1. the Philosophy of Conservatism 7
  • Part II. Basic Conservative Ideas 16
  • 2. the Religious Basis of Society 16
  • 3. the Organic Theory of Society 24
  • 4. Country 31
  • 5. Commonwealth and Empire 36
  • 6. International Order 41
  • 7. Authority 44
  • 8. the Liberal Heresy 48
  • 9. the Socialist Heresy 54
  • 10. Liberty 60
  • 11. the Idea of Law 68
  • 12. Natural Law 70
  • 13. the Rule of Law 76
  • 14. Progress 83
  • 15. Continuity 86
  • 16. Enterprise 89
  • 17. Incentives, Liberal and Socialist 91
  • 18. Property 97
  • 19. Trading for Profit 103
  • 20. Competition, Big Business and Public Ownership 107
  • 21. the Land 119
  • 22. Trade Unions and Co-Operatives 125
  • 23. the Politics of Abundance 133
  • 24. Education 143
  • Part III. the Socialist Case Examined 147
  • 25. Introduction to Part III 147
  • 26. Profit and Use 150
  • 27. Public Ownership 154
  • 28. Planning 163
  • 29. Inequality of Income 167
  • 30. Inequality of Wealth 174
  • 31. Poverty--Its Cause and Cure 181
  • 32. War 189
  • 33. Standard of Life 192
  • 34. Housing 197
  • 35. Public Health 200
  • 36. Social Insurance 202
  • 37. Unemployment--The Facts 207
  • 38. Unemployment--Cause and Cure 213
  • Part IV. Policy To-Day and To-Morrow 225
  • 39. General Election, 1945 225
  • 40. Foreign Affairs 235
  • 41. Social Policy 250
  • 42. Economic Policy 260
  • 43. Food and Agriculture 277
  • 44. Nationalisation 284
  • 45. Britain at the Cross Roads 296
  • 46. the Politics of the Next Election 303
  • 47. Epilogue 311
  • Index 315
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