The chapter introduces how trade union resistance to the Labour Government’s 5 per cent wage policy resulted in an unprecedented strike wave, known as the Winter of Discontent, which culminated in the election of Margaret Thatcher in 1979. The author outlines how the focus will move from myth to memory, establishing how this series of events have been mythologized, and then focusing on specific strikes to extrapolate broader themes and arguments. The chapter details the author’s central assertions: Conservative Party and New Labour politics have shaped the myth and memory of the Winter of Discontent; the author’s research reveals that striking workers were not simply irrational, but were motivated by shifts in the gender and racial composition of the British trade union movement, ideological shifts politically, and declining real wages, which all serve to challenge the hegemonic myth of the Winter of Discontent.
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