Kinnock was first elected to Parliament in 1970. Following in the footsteps of other radical politicians from Wales, he strongly supported labor unionism and the radical Left within the Labour Party. When Labour lost the 1979 general election to Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Party, Kinnock served as opposition spokesman for education. He was also a member of the Labour Party's national executive committee. Labour fared no better in the 1983 elections, and its leader, Michael Foot, took the blame for its poor showing. Shortly after the election, Kinnock replaced Foot as party leader.
Kinnock immediately set out to reorganize and reinvigorate the party. Realizing that radical elements within Labour had helped contribute to its years in the political wilderness, he expelled the Militant Tendency Organization, a radical leftist group within the party. He also moderated the party line in order to attract more voters, many of whom had shifted to the Right during the era of Thatcher as prime minister. Although Labour lost the 1987 elections, it did noticeably better than in the previous election.
As the Conservative government began to wane in the late 1980s, many Labourites, including Kinnock himself, thought that they were destined to win in the 1992 elections. They did not. After the 1992 defeat, Kinnock resigned his leadership position. There is little doubt, however, that his reorganization and repositioning of the Labour Party was a significant factor in it attaining victory under Tony Blair. Kinnock went on to serve as transportation commissioner for the European Union (EU) in 1995.
Elizabeth Pugliese and Paul G. Pierpaoli Jr.
Harris, Robert. The Making of Neil Kinnock. London: Faber and Faber, 1984.