Industrial Relations: Reappraising the Industrial Relations Act 1971

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The aim of this chapter is to provide a critical reappraisal of the Industrial Relations Act of 1971 and its legacy, drawing on documents now released at the National Archives and Modern Records Centre. The chapter argues that the Act’s association with policy failure and the infamous U-turns of the Heath premiership mask its long-term influence on the reform of industrial relations in the British context. In assessing its longer-term significance, the chapter identifies the existence of continuities in the industrial relations policy of the Conservative Party, as the crisis of Keynesianism was superseded by a neoliberal approach to the management of British capitalism. More significantly, the chapter identifies the lessons learnt by the Conservative Party and the move towards ‘step-by-step’ reform in an attempt to ensure greater policy success in the post-Heath era. As such, this chapter demonstrates how the contemporary industrial relations landscape has been shaped by the impact of this, albeit short-lived, Act.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPolicies and Politics Under Prime Minister Edward Heath
EditorsAndrew Roe-Crines, Timothy Heppell
Place of PublicationBasingstoke
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan Ltd
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-53673-2
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-53672-5
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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