The British Labour Partys Left Turn

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2017-61-12-63-73

N. Rabotyazhev (,
Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow 117997, Russian Federation 

Abstract. The article is devoted to the ideological evolution of the British Labour Party after it went into opposition in 2010. After Tony Blair’s resignation in 2007, the Party began to revise the principles of New Labour. In the years of Ed Miliband’s leadership in the Party (2010-2015), the departure of British Labour from pro-market and pro-globalist doctrine of New Labour became more evident. Miliband criticized injustices and inequalities of capitalism and aspired to shift the Labour Party nearer to social democratic values. He proposed new projects such as “Responsible Capitalism” and “One Nation Labour” aimed at creation of a more just society in Great Britain. Miliband was also influenced by views of Blue Labour protecting the British identity and traditions, criticizing globalization and uncontrolled immigration. After the Labour Party’s defeat at the 2015 general election, Miliband resigned as its leader, and the 2015 BLP leadership election was won by Jeremy Corbyn, a “hard left”. Corbyn is an old fashioned democratic socialist and eurosceptic to some extent. Before the EU referendum in June 2016, he, however, called Labour to vote against Brexit. Nevertheless, later the elite of the Party accused him of incapability to mobilize supporters of European integration. Those events resulted in intra-party crisis, but in September 2016 Corbyn was re-elected as a Labour leader. Before the 2017 general election, the BLP published the Party Manifesto “For the Many, Not the Few”, which was influenced by Corbyn’s ideas. The Manifesto included some proposals in old left style – to nationalize some sectors of the economy, increase corporate tax rates, ramp up social spending and state investments. Nevertheless, at the parliamentary election of June 8, 2017, Labour made a net gain of 30 seats – mainly due to Corbyn’s charisma (though the Labour Party remained in opposition). In the author’s opinion, the BLP led by Jeremy Corbyn cannot win a general election because it will not be supported by voters from the middle class. 

Keywords: British Labour Party, social democracy, democratic socialism, New Labour, Blue Labour, Responsible Capitalism, One Nation Labour, hard left, Jeremy Corbyn, EU referendum, UK general election 2017 


1. Rabotyazhev N. V. Ideyno-politicheskaya evolutsiya Leyboristskoi partii Velikobritanii v kontse XX – nachale XXI v. [Ideological and Political Evolution of the British Labour Party in the Late 20th – Early 21st Century]. Mirovaya ekonomika i mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya, 2013, no. 8, pp. 29-42.

2. Goes E. The Labour Party under Ed Miliband: Trying but Failing to Renew Social Democracy. Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2016. 224 p.

3. Miliband E. Building a Responsible Capitalism. Available at: (accessed 03.03.2017).

4. Miliband E. What Responsible Capitalism is All about. Available at: (accessed 03.03.2017).

5. Sandbrook D. Family, Faith and Flag. New Statesman, 07.04.2011. Available at: (accessed 03.03.2017).

6. Grady H. Blue Labour: Party’s Radical Answer to the Big Society? Available at: (accessed 16.03.2017).

7. Riddell M. Labour’s Anti-Immigration Guru. Available at: (accessed 16.03.2017).

8. Geary I., Pabst A., eds. Blue Labour: Forging a New Politics. London, New York, I. B. Tauris, 2015. 298 p.

9. Riddell M., Whitehead T. Immigration Should Be Frozen, Says Miliband Adviser. Available at: (accessed 16.03.2017).

10. Glasman M., Rutherford J., Stears M., White St., eds. The Labour Tradition and the Politics of Paradox: The Oxford London Seminars 2010–2011. Available at: (accessed 03.03.2017).

11. Gromoglasova E. S. Leiboristy mezhdu elektoralnoi strategiey i ideologiey [The British Labour between Electoral Strategy and Ideology]. Dilemmy Britanii: poisk putey razvitiya [UK’s Dilemma: Search of Development Paths]. Gromyko Al.A., Ananyeva E. V., eds. Moscow, Izdatel’stvo “Ves’ mir”, 2014, pp. 173-187.

12. Britain Can Be Better: The Labour Party Manifesto 2015. Available at: (accessed 08.09.2017).

13. How Britain Voted in 2015. Available at: (accessed 03.07.2017)

14. Ananyeva E. V. Ischezayushchiy Tsentr [Vanishing Centre]. International Affairs, 2016, no. 10, pp. 80-92.

15. Michels R. Zur Soziologie des Parteiwesens in der modernen Demokratie. 4. Aufl. Stuttgart, Kroner, 1989. 520 s.

16. Sakwa R. Jeremy Corbyn i politika transtsendentnosti [Jeremy Corbyn and the Politics of Transcendence]. Available at: (accessed 27.02.2017).

17. Knight S. Enter Left. The New Yorker, 23.05.2016. Available at: (accessed 16.03.2017).

18. Corbyn J. Nato Belligerence Endangers Us All. Morning Star, 17.04.2014. Available at: (accessed 24.02.2017).

19. Jeremy Corbyn Says ‘Overwhelming Case’ for Staying in EU. Available at: (accessed 27.02.2017).

20. Corbyn Re-elected as Labour Leader with Bigger Landslide than Last Year. Available at: (accessed 03.03.2017).

21. For the Many, Not the Few. The Labour Party Manifesto 2017. Available at: (accessed 08.09.2017).

22. Payne S. Corbyn’s Misguided Bid to Turn the Clock Back. Financial Times, 11.05.2017. Available at: (accessed 10.07.2017).

23. How Britain Voted at the 2017 General Election. Available at: (accessed 15.06.2017).

24. Pudovkin Ye. Britanskiye tsentristy ravniayutsya na Makrona [British Centrists Try to Equal Macron]. Nezavisimaya gazeta, 03.07.2017. Available at: (accessed 04.07.2017).

25. Musikhin G. I. Ocherki teorii ideologiy [Essays on the Theory of Ideologies]. Moscow, Higher School of Economics Publ., 2013. 288 p.

26. Orlov B. S. Novaya programma germanskoi sotsial-demokratii. Itogi ideynoi diskussii v SDPG [The New Program of German Social Democracy. The Results of Ideological Discussion in SPD]. Moscow, INION RAN, 2008. 102 p.

27. Pellicani L. Sotsialisticheskaya politicheskaya kultura i Evropa [Socialist Political Culture and Europe]. Aktualnye problemy Evropy: ekonomika, politika, ideologiya. Vypusk 4 [Actual Problems of Europe: Economy, Politics, Ideology. Issue 4]. Moscow, INION RAN, pp. 112-116.

Registered in System SCIENCE INDEX

For citation:
Rabotyazhev N. The British Labour Partys Left Turn. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2017, vol. 61, no. 12, pp. 63-73.

Comments (0)

No comments

Add comment






Dear authors! Please note that in the VAK List of peer-reviewed scientific journals, in which the main scientific results of dissertations for the degree of candidate and doctor of sciences should be published for the “MEMO Journal” the following specialties are recorded:
economic sciences:
5.2.5. World Economy.
5.2.1. Economic Theory
5.2.3. Regional and Branch Economics
political sciences:
5.5.4. International Relations
5.5.1. History and Theory of Politics
5.5.2. Political Institutions, Processes, Technologies


Current Issue
2024, vol. 68, No. 7
Topical Themes of the Issue:
  • The Supporting Structure of Global Security
  • Institutional Features of the Fourth Energy Transition
  • The Evolution of Modern German Christian Democracy
  • The Monarchies of the Persian Gulf and Central Asia
Submit an Article
The Editorial Board invites authors to write analytical articles on the following topics:
  • changes in the processes of globalization in modern conditions
  • formation of the new world order
  • shifts in civilization at the stage of transition to a digital society

The editors are also interested in publishing synthesis articles / scientific reviews revealing the main trends in the development of certain regions of the world - Latin America, Africa, South Asia, etc.