Kinnock, Neil

Kinnock, Neil
(1942– )
   Having been brought up in the industrial valleys of South Wales, the young Neil Kinnock inherited the passionate socialist tradition and oratorical skills of the Welsh Labour leftwinger Nye Bevan. He was a Member of Parliament from 1970 to 1995, leaving his ‘young firebrand’ image behind him when he became the Labour Leader of the Opposition following the 1983 election. On becoming leader, he inherited a demoralised party and was a key figure in its modernisation. He was responsible for improving its presentational skills, overhauling its organisation and – following a policy review – shedding some of the policies that had contributed to its severe defeat in 1983. His finest hour was perhaps his expulsion of the militants in 1986, an important victory that was an important early step towards making Labour electable once more. Yet if by the 1992 election he had made the party seem again a credible alternative party of government, he was unable to carry it to victory, hence his reputation as a ‘nearly man’ of British politics. He resigned as leader immediately after the election defeat.
   Kinnock subsequently served as the United Kingdom’s European Commissioner from 1995 until 2004, latterly serving as vice-president of the European Commission. He is now a life peer and Chairman of the British Council.

Glossary of UK Government and Politics . 2013.

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