Writing at the outset of the period covered by this book, Vic Allen began his study of union militancy with the declaration that ‘it is quite clear that under conditions where labour is freely bought and sold trade unionism is endemic, universal and permanent’ 1 In the fifteen years surveyed in the previous chapters there was little in British experience which appeared to contradict this confident assertion, which now reads like an echo of a distant age. Union membership in the UK increased in all but three of these years, from 10.2 million in 1964 to 13.4 million in 1979. Aggregate employment changed little over this period, so that density increased similarly: from 44.1 per cent in 1964 to 55.4 per cent in 1979. 2 These figures were indeed open to alternative interpretations: for Eric Hobsbawn they could be viewed as relative stagnation and were one indicator of the end of labour’s ‘forward march’. 3 Yet this was a somewhat perverse reading: the increase of ten percentage points in union density achieved in a decade from the late 1960s to the late 1970s had been matched only twice before in this century, in the very special circumstances surrounding the wars of 1914–18 and 1939–45. This progress was the more significant given the changes in workforce composition which Hobsbawm himself noted: growing feminization, the shift from manual to white collar occupations, the decline of employment in many of the old trade union strongholds (notably mining) and the growth of the service sector.