© 2017, © The Author(s) 2017. This paper explores neoliberalisation and its counter-currents through a six-case study of austerity urbanism in Spain and the UK. Applying Urban Regime Theory it highlights the role of urban politics in driving, variegating and containing neoliberalism since the 2008 crash. Variegated austerity regimes contribute to strengthening neoliberalism, but with limits. Welfarism survives austerity in felicitous circumstances. And, where contentious politics thrive, as in Spain, it holds out the potential for a broader challenge to neoliberalism. In contrast, austerity regimes in the UK cities are strongly embedded. The legacies of past struggles, and differing local and regional traditions form an important part of the explanation for patterns of neoliberalisation, hybridization and contestation.