Neil Kinnock

British politician (born 1942)

Neil Gordon Kinnock, Baron Kinnock, PC (born March 28, 1942) is a British politician. He was a Member of Parliament (MP) from 1970 to 1995, and was Leader of the Opposition and Labour Party leader from 1983 to 1992, when he resigned after the 1992 general election defeat. He subsequently served as a UK Commissioner of the European Commission from 1995 until 2004.

Neil Kinnock


  • The army of brokers, jobbers and other quaintly named parasites.
  • Devolutionary reform will not provide a factory, a machine or jobs, build a school, train a doctor or put a pound on pensions.
    • South Wales Echo (November 1, 1975).
  • The House of Lords must go - not be reformed, not be replaced, not be reborn in some nominated life-after-death patronage paradise, just closed down, abolished, finished.
    • Tribune (November 19, 1976).
  • In my right hon. Friend's reply to the right hon. Lady the Leader of the Opposition, was he not rather unsympathetic, especially now that she appears to be the last pro-Marketeer in Britain? Is not this disturbance manifested by her use of the word "abrasiveness"? For the right hon. Lady to protest a dislike of abrasiveness is rather like Count Dracula professing a distaste for blood. Will my right hon. Friend give an undertaking to increase his abrasiveness until he rubs out altogether the common agricultural policy?
  • By emphatically pressing the view that it is only possible to support radical Labour policies by supporting Tony Benn, Tony's associates have turned the contest into a gamble with policies, [yet any] disagreement with those claims has been slandered as 'opportunism', 'careerism' and evidence of every kind of departure from socialist conviction and purpose. That is the truly dangerous product of these months of contest.
    • "Personality, Policies and Democratic Socialism", Tribune, 18 September 1981.
  • Heckler: At least Mrs Thatcher has got guts.
    Neil Kinnock: It's a pity that other people had to leave theirs on the ground at Goose Green to prove it.
    • Daily Telegraph 7 June, 1983.
    • On TVS television's programme "The South decides" during the 1983 general election campaign. Kinnock was forced to write letters to the families of the war dead to apologise.
  • If Margaret Thatcher is re-elected as prime minister on Thursday, I warn you. I warn you that you will have pain – when healing and relief depend upon payment. I warn you that you will have ignorance – when talents are untended and wits are wasted, when learning is a privilege and not a right. I warn you that you will have poverty – when pensions slip and benefits are whittled away by a government that won’t pay in an economy that can't pay. I warn you that you will be cold – when fuel charges are used as a tax system that the rich don't notice and the poor can't afford.

    I warn you that you must not expect work – when many cannot spend, more will not be able to earn. When they don't earn, they don't spend. When they don't spend, work dies. I warn you not to go into the streets alone after dark or into the streets in large crowds of protest in the light. I warn you that you will be quiet – when the curfew of fear and the gibbet of unemployment make you obedient. I warn you that you will have defence of a sort – with a risk and at a price that passes all understanding. I warn you that you will be home-bound – when fares and transport bills kill leisure and lock you up. I warn you that you will borrow less – when credit, loans, mortgages and easy payments are refused to people on your melting income.

    If Margaret Thatcher wins on Thursday, I warn you not to be ordinary. I warn you not to be young. I warn you not to fall ill. And I warn you not to grow old.

    • Robert Harris, "The Making of Neil Kinnock" (Faber and Faber, 1984), page 208.
    • Speech in Bridgend, Glamorgan, on Tuesday 7 June 1983. Thursday 9 June 1983 was polling day in the general election.
  • The roots of defeat which were put down by some of the elements of our party in the two or three years after 1980 made victory difficult to achieve.
    • The Times, 10 June, 1983, p. 1.
    • On the Labour Party's defeat in the 1983 general election.
  • I don't believe that the policies on which we fought the [1983] election ought to be ejected like some sort of spent cartridge.
    • Tribune, 15 June, 1983.
  • [Marx's theories] gave me a political and intellectual justification for what I believed in a way that nothing else did.
    • Marxism Today, June 1983.
  • Someone up there likes me.
    • Robert Harris, "The Making of Neil Kinnock" (Faber and Faber, 1984), page 223.
    • Remarks to reporters on surviving a high-speed car crash, 13 July 1983.
  • If anyone wants to know why we must conduct ourselves [with commonsense and realism], just remember at all times, with all temptations, how you, each and every one of you sitting in this hall, each and every Labour worker watching this conference, each and every Labour voter, yes, and some others as well, remember how you felt on that dreadful morning of the tenth of June. Just remember how you felt then, and think to yourselves: 'June the ninth, 1983, never ever again will we experience that.'
  • We support the efforts to keep the pits open until exhausted.
    • The Scotsman (12 March 1984).
  • I'll tell you what happens with impossible promises. You start with far fetched resolutions. They are then pickled into a rigid dogma, a code, and you go through the years sticking to that, out-dated, misplaced, irrelevant to the real needs, and you end in the grotesque chaos of a Labour council—a Labour council—hiring taxis to scuttle round a city handing out redundancy notices to its own workers. I'm telling you - and you'll listen - you can't play politics with people's jobs and with people's services. The people will not abide posturing.
    • Speech to the Labour Party Conference in Bournemouth (1 October 1985).
  • We believe there should be reforms in the EEC which would benefit all the members. If these were not achieved, our policy is to preserve the ultimate option of withdrawing Britain. That option would not, this time, need a referendum, as it did before.
    • On Labour policy regarding the EEC (8 January 1986)
  • I'm a father. And no matter how much I try to convince myself towards the course of 'enlightenment' I know damn well that, put to the test, I'm what people would call a reactionary. I know it. I try and rationalize it but it's no good. I come to the same conclusion all the time. My children stand a chance of being hurt in the forseeable future by what's called permissiveness.
    • Interview with Everywoman magazine (28 August 1986), quoted in The Times (4 September 1986), p. 16
  • Those who have the immense dishonesty to fight with a ballot box in one hand and a rifle in the other have no place in democratic politics.
    • On the Provisional IRA; speech in the House of Commons (23 October 1986), reported in Hansard, 6th series, vol. 102, col. 1287.
  • That sort of fundamentalism which treats possession of private property not as a desirable economic and personal asset but as a condition of liberty is a form of primitive religion.
    • Speech to National Housing and Town Planning Conference, Bournemouth (28 October 1986).
  • Why am I the first Kinnock in a thousand generations to be able to get to university? Why is Glenys the first woman in her family in a thousand generations to be able to get to university?

    Was it because our predecessors were thick? Does anybody really think that they didn't get what we had because they didn't have the talent or the strength or the endurance or the commitment? Of course not. It was because there was no platform upon which they could stand.

    • Speech at the Welsh Labour Party conference, Llandudno (15 May 1987)
      • This speech was extensively quoted in a Labour Party election broadcast during the 1987 general election. It was also famously used without attribution by U.S. Senator Joe Biden, although Biden had used and properly attributed the speech many times before.
  • David Frost: If you haven't got nuclear weapons, the choice in that situation would be to subject your forces to an unfair battle.
    Neil Kinnock: Yes, what you're suggesting is that the alternatives are between the gesture, the threat, or the use of nuclear weapons, and surrender. In these circumstances the choice is posed, and this is a classical choice, between exterminating everything you stand for and the flower of your youth, or using all the resources you have to make any occupation totally untenable.
    • Television interview with David Frost on TV-AM (24 May 1987); reported in David Butler and Dennis Kavanagh, "The British General Election of 1987" (Macmillan, 1987), p. 103.
  • What has happened is that there are people who, for reasons best known to themselves, have voted for maintaining division in our country.
    • Remarks following the Labour defeat at the 1987 general election (12 June 1987); reported in David Butler and Dennis Kavanagh, "The British General Election of 1987" (Macmillan, 1987), p. 103.
  • Oh I detest him. I did then, I do now, and it's mutual. He hates me as well. And I'd much prefer to have his savage hatred than even the merest hint of friendship from that man.


  • Wankers and whingers.
    • Attributed to Kinnock by Stuart Weir, "We stopped Boadicea's chariot", New Statesman 27 November 1998, p. 33.
    • Kinnock's private description of Charter 88 at the time of their launch. Note that Kinnock subsequently signed the Charter.

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