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By Hugh Berrington

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While Labour’s old political structure was in decline and a new generation was appearing to challenge the established leaders, its industrial base was also changing drastically. The trade unions had created the party in the first place and always held the ultimate power of decision within it. They could, if united, dominate the National Executive Committee (NEC) where 18 of the 28 (later 29) seats were under their control. Their voting dominance at the Party Conference was much more complete, for their affiliated members outnumbered those who joined individually through constituency parties by about five to one, and in recent years—as the local parties dwindled—by as much as nine to one.

Ch. 4; the reference to the passivity of the working class is from a private lecture. Labour Party Annual Conference Report, 1973, pp. 207–20 and Appendix 4, p. 362. Almond and Verba, op. , p. 108. MORI Report, No. 1, January 1982. Craig, British Electoral Facts 1832–1980 (4th edition), (Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services, 1981). Butler The British General Election of l951 (London: Macmillan, 1952), ch. x and Appendix and The British General Election of 1955 (London: Macmillan, 1955) Appendix I.

These changes were soon to find formal expression. While Labour’s old political structure was in decline and a new generation was appearing to challenge the established leaders, its industrial base was also changing drastically. The trade unions had created the party in the first place and always held the ultimate power of decision within it. They could, if united, dominate the National Executive Committee (NEC) where 18 of the 28 (later 29) seats were under their control. Their voting dominance at the Party Conference was much more complete, for their affiliated members outnumbered those who joined individually through constituency parties by about five to one, and in recent years—as the local parties dwindled—by as much as nine to one.

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