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Research Report 51: The ‘leaners’ and the ‘Luddites’ – lessons from the past

The Industrial Revolution and Margaret Thatcher’s neoliberal ‘reforms’ caused deep schisms between the north and the south of England. The pain inflicted by Thatcher on the industrial north is reflected in the strong Brexit vote to ‘turn back the clock’. Current changes in the world of work (and long-term unemployment or under-employment) are causing similar pain in many regions of Australia. The rewards of neoliberalism are not trickling down; it is time to create a fairer society and preserve our democratic values.

Checks and counter-checks in the body politic, large devolutions of State government, instruments and processes of free debate, frequent recurrence to first principles, the right of opposition to the most powerful governments, and above all ceaseless vigilance, have preserved, and will preserve, the broad characteristics of British and American institutions.

(Winston Churchill, broadcast to the USA, August 1939) 

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