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Kinnock, Neil Gordon

Neil Gordon Kinnock (kĬn´ək), 1942–, British politician, b. Tredegar, Wales. The son of a miner, he studied at University College, Cardiff. In 1970 he was elected to Parliament as a Labour party member. After Labour's defeat in the 1979 elections, he became party education spokesperson. He became party leader after Labour's overwhelming defeat in the 1983 elections. A gifted orator, Kinnock persuaded the party to abandon some of its traditional left-wing positions, such as unilateral disarmament and widespread nationalization, and adopt more moderate policies. In 1992, the Conservatives again defeated Labour in a national election in which the electorate's questioning of Kinnock's ability to lead the nation was a major factor. After this loss, he resigned the party leadership. He remained in Parliament until 1995, when he was appointed to the European Union's European Commission; he served as its vice president from 1999 to 2004. He was created Baron Kinnock of Bedwellty in 2005.

See R. Harris, The Making of Neil Kinnock (1984).

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Kinnock, Neil G.

Kinnock, Neil G. (b. 1943). Formerly leader of the Labour Party (1983–92), European commissioner from 1995. Having lost two general elections in a row to the Conservatives (1987, 1992), Kinnock disarmingly confessed to being a failure. His left-wing views (particularly support for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) alienated many voters, while his rhetorical style was considered verbose even by many of his own supporters. His opponents labelled him ‘the Welsh windbag’. His poor record at university, his lack of much professional experience before entering Parliament, and his lack of experience in government were all factors which handicapped him. Though he demonstrated courage in facing up to left-wing extremists in his party, dropped unpopular policies, and began the process of modernizing Labour, the impression remained that he lacked the gravitas required of a prime minister.

Andrew Sanders

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