From 1979 to 1992, Britain’s Labour Party lost four consecutive general elections to the Conservatives. From 1997, “New Labour” won three consecutive elections and governed the United Kingdom for 13 years. From 2010, Labour has lost three consecutive elections. Since 2015, the party has been led by Jeremy Corbyn, formerly a fringe left-wing backbencher and long critical of NATO and the European Union, and it has become the largest political party in Western Europe by membership. How did the party’s leftists wrest power from the centrists? Will Labour win the next general election and how would it govern the country? What can the American Democratic Party learn from Labour’s left turn?
On June 14, Foreign Policy at Brookings hosted David Kogan, the author of “Protest and Power: The Battle for the Labour Party” (Bloomsbury, 2019), a history of the party from the 1970s to the present, described by The Times as “meticulously researched and balanced…by a writer with sources at the highest level across different wings of the party.” A historian, Kogan has worked in U.K. and U.S. media as a journalist and senior executive at the BBC, Reuters Television, and Magnum Photos, and authored a previous history of Labour (“The Battle for the Labour Party,” 1981).
Following remarks by Kogan, Thomas Wright, director of Brookings’s Center on the United States and Europe, moderated a conversation with Kogan and Amanda Sloat, Robert Bosch Senior Fellow at the Center on the United States and Europe.
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The Biden administration has a pretty good idea of what it wants from Europe, which is to go along with their China policy. They are less clear about what they type of Europe they want. Ultimately, if Biden wants a Europe that competes with China he will have to change how the US thinks about the EU, strategic autonomy, burden sharing, and trade.