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How Another 'Winter of Discontent’ Will Cause a Labour Party Comeback

After One Hundred Days in Office, Can U.K. Prime Minster Rishi Sunak Save the Conservative Party’s 13-Year Grip on Westminster?

Article Written by Jett James Pruitt

Ask any British person over the age of 50, and they will agree: the winter of 1978 to 1979 was one of the darkest periods in U.K. history. Known as the “Winter of Discontent,” droves of public and private sector workers went on strike to protest government wage restrictions aimed at reducing inflation.

As explained by Sociology Professor Tara Martin López, “These controls, or income policies, were not uncommon in post-war Britain, but for British trade unions, three years of wage restraint, coupled with inflation depressing workers’ wages, made the rank-and-file membership increasingly less likely to abide yet another year of such a policy. Towards the end of 1978, Labour Prime Minister James Callaghan’s imposition of a five percent wage limit proved particularly galling, and trade unions were in a position to effectively resist the government’s efforts.”

As one may expect, these labor disputes crippled the nation. Uncollected garbage began to pile in London’s Leicester Square because refuse collectors went on strike. Hospitals were forced to only admit emergency patients because healthcare workers refused to work. Gas stations shut down across the country because truck drivers refused to deliver fuel.

Put it mildly, the term “Winter of Discontent” — borrowed from William Shakespeare’s Richard III — truly reflects how the British people felt during this time . . . and today.

In short, this disruption of commerce ultimately led to a 180 degree party shift resulting in Margaret Thatcher and the Conservative Party winning control of Parliament in the summer of 1979.

Fast forward to 2023.

By all measures, the United Kingdom is experiencing a second “Winter Discontent.” Overall inflation soared to 10.5% in December 2022, fueled by a rise in energy prices caused by the Russo-Ukrainian War. Food prices remain at their highest levels in 40 years. In effect, workers have gone on strike to receive wage increases to keep up with the cost of living.

As reported by The Independent, professionals from both the public and private sectors of the economy held a national strike day on February 1, 2023. This mass demonstration included tens of thousands of members from the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), the National Education Union (NEU), the University and College Union (UCU), and the Rail Union, among others.

As of this writing, a handful of these unions plan to extend these demonstrations until the end of February.

U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak

Organized demonstration is not the only issue the U.K. is facing. The country’s National Health System (NHS) is facing a severe staffing and funding shortage. Sky News reports that it takes an average of 10 minutes and 57 seconds for an ambulance to respond to emergencies — the slowest time on record.

On a political basis, the ruling Conservative Party has been in hot water over the past year.

In July 2022, Prime Minister Boris Johnson resigned after an onslaught of scandals (including Party-gate and the appointment of Chris Pincher to a government position) plagued his ministry.

In September, Liz Truss’ government triggered a financial crisis after it introduced large-scale borrowing and tax cuts in a mini-budget. This event pressured her to resign on October 20, 2022 — making her the shortest serving PM in British history.

So far, the Sunak ministry has faced its fair share of heat. Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab has been accused of bullying from civil servants; Conservative Party chairman Nadhim Zahawi was fired from his position; and the Prime Minister himself was recently fined for not wearing a seatbelt.

Regardless, Sunak has been able to keep the ship steady. Over the past three months, Sunak has been successful in securing confidence among his party. His ministry introduced an ambitious plan to halve inflation, promote economic growth, reduce national debt, and stop migrant crossings.

In response to the NHS crisis, Sunak has also pledged to deliver thousands of more beds, 800 new ambulances, and an expansion of community care.

Despite these assurances, electoral prospects are not looking good for the Conservatives in the next election.

According to Sky News, the Labour Party has an average 21 percentage lead over Conservatives in polls since Sunak became Prime Minister on October 25, 2022.

This finding indicates Labour will sweep parliament if a general election were to occur within the next few months. Only a Conservative Party miracle will be able to turn the tides before the next General Election on or before May 2, 2024.

What are your thoughts? Please share this article with your comments.

Born in 2005, Jett James Pruitt is a Native American (Taino Arawak), Pulitzer Prize-nominated author of the book Through The Eyes of a Young American. He is the founder and editor-in-chief of, and is a political strategist specializing in Generation Z voting trends. His next book The Progressive Conservative is due in bookstores later this year.


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