The new order underpinned by the Bretton Woods Agreement and the International Monetary Fund, growth of international trade, state management of the economy based upon Keynesianism, an extended welfare state, integrated trade unions and exploitation of new technology flourished into the 1960s. It was in the years 1968–79, as the state attempted with limited success to use trade unions as an instrument of increasingly deflationary economic management, that the fortunes of the unions’ reached their meridian – numerically and, more arguably, in terms of power. The politics of the vast majority of union leaders and officers were firmly bounded by labourism, even if by 1979 there was some turn to the left and support for the Alternative Economic Strategy and the policies which came to be identified with Tony Benn. Analysis of union politics has to take account of the unions’ interface with political parties and the state, their political affiliation and formal union activities.