As opposition to austerity gathers momentum across Europe, there is evidence the same mood is taking hold in the UK.

Political parties in Greece, Spain and Ireland – three of the countries suffering from the worst austerity measures – have risen to prominence on the back of unambiguous opposition to austerity – at the expense of traditional social democrats.

There are clearly lessons for Labour to learn from Syriza’s success.

Polling suggests that opinion in the UK is turning against austerity and that Labour would benefit from demonstrating it is part of that movement.

A poll by YouGov for The Times conducted on 26th and 27th January found 57% of swing Labour voters would ‘prefer a Labour party that commits to spending more money on the NHS and other public services and does not make the deficit a priority’, while only 15% would prefer a Labour party that is committed to tackling the country’s deficit through spending cuts and tax increases.

On the same day, the 26th January, a group of 15 Labour MPs published a statement urging the party to offer an alternative to austerity, which read,

‘There is an alternative way out of endless austerity. We need public investment to kickstart the economy out of faltering growth and to generate real job creation and rising incomes.’

And later in the week, a LabourList readers poll found 83% backed the MPs anti-austerity statement – with only 13% disagreeing, demonstrating an anti-austerity mood amongst party activists in tune with the party’s swing voters.

As was noted on the site, ‘This reflects a general trend among the public for renationalisation of the railways and, more recently, support for anti-austerity policies. The substantial support for such policies, arguably, reflects a desire from grassroots Labour activists to move towards the party’s traditional base – further to the left of the party currently stands.’

The explosion of opposition to austerity follows Syriza’s stunning victory in the Greek election on Sunday 25th January.

Syriza took 36% to win the election while PASOK, the traditional social democrats slumped to 5% from a high of 44% in 2009, having overseen the implementation of unpopular austerity measures.

The following Saturday 31st March saw around 100,000 people demonstrate in Madrid in support of the anti-austerity Podemos party, who now lead Spanish opinion polls having only been formed in January 2014.

And on the same day, thousands demonstrated in towns across Ireland against the proposed introduction of water charges. Sinn Fein, who have consistently opposed austerity, are now challenging to win the next election, with the Irish Labour Party’s support halved from their high of 18% at the last election.

That is why Labour Assembly Against Austerity has organised the meeting:

What lessons can Labour learn from Syriza’s success?

  • 6.30pm
  • Wednesday 25th February
  • Unite House, 128 Theobald’s Road


  • Sarah Cook (Unite)
  • Jeremy Corbyn MP
  • Manuel Cortes (TSSA)
  • Peter Hain MP
  • Owen Jones (Guardian)


  • Kate Purcell (UCATT)

Get involved:



Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *