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Conservative Trade Unionists (CTU) is an organisation within the British Conservative Party made up of Conservative-supporting trade unionists.

Although by 1974 the CTU was over sixty years old, it was practically moribund. However under Margaret Thatcher's leadership there was a drive for recruitment. In 1975 seven new full-time workers were appointed under a new head, John Bowis, and by 1978 there 250 groups (membership of which varied from 20 to 200 members) and the 1977 CTU annual conferences was attended by over 1,200 delegates.[1]

In the mid-1970s its president was Norman Tebbit (a former official of the British Air Line Pilots Association) and he drafted Mrs. Thatcher's speech to the CTU Conference in 1975 shortly after she was elected Conservative leader.

In the later 1970s and early 1980s the CTU played an important part in guiding the party toward the Trade Union reforms introduced after Mrs Thatcher came to power in 1979 by Employment minister James Prior.

However, the organisation was not always in sympathy with some of the more extreme anti-union views in some parts of the Conservative party and always supported the right of anyone who wished to join a union to do so. However it also assisted any union member who wished to opt out of paying a political levy, which probably went to the Labour party, under the law which made an active opt-out necessary to avoid this.

In the 1990s, with the decline in union influence, its membership waned. After the Conservative defeat in the 1997 General Election it was renamed Conservatives at Work, CaW.

[1] Peter Bottomley (a member of the Transport and General Workers Union) was also its president from 1978 to 1980. Sir Brian Mawhinney was its president from 1987 to 1990.


  1. ^ Roger King and Neill Nugent (eds.), Respectable Rebels: Middle Class Campaigns in Britain in the 1970s (Hodder and Stoughton, 1979), p. 167.

See also



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