Foreign Affairs

The Return of New Labour

May 2024
By Ambrogio Mantegazza

Yesterday in the United Kingdom, local elections were held to elect local councillors. A total of around 2600 people across 107 councils has been involved. In particular, Londoners were called upon to choose their mayor, but among the major cities involved were also Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, and Southampton.

Without delving into the administrative maze that is the old Albion, this election has made a dream of resurgence for some and a fear for others a reality. Indeed, 2024 could mark a return to the days of King Tony for the Labour Party. After the dark years in which a short-sighted left led by Jeremy Corbyn found itself orphaned of the valuable provincial electorate, Labour has emerged victorious against Tories embroiled in internal power struggles.

The protagonist of Labour’s resurgence is Keir Starmer, 61 years old and leader of the opposition since 2020. A man who has turned the party upside down and, after the leftward shift under Corbyn, has decided to bring it back to the center. Rehabilitation of Tony Blair, considered a “neoliberal” by the old guard, unconditional support for Ukraine, NATO, and Israel, and the goal of increasing productivity growth in the United Kingdom are some points of his agenda. These stances have made him disliked by the party’s more radical faction but have made him appear more moderate and convincing to the British electorate, especially with his deeply personal interviews.

And it is also thanks to this positioning that today Labour manages to win in constituencies that have not been in the hands of the center-left for decades. This success is poised to repeat itself in the upcoming general elections, which are expected to take place in the coming months. They should take place, as for now, Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, worn down by internal power struggles within the Tories and intimidated by a heavy defeat, has yet to call for them.

And if Sunak is not sleeping soundly, outside his window, we see a very active Boris Johnson who is eagerly waiting to return to remind the Conservatives of the 42% they managed to gain in 2019.