Kinnock tells Centre for Opposition Studies: Labour Party must remember why it exists

Date:  Monday 24th April 2017, 
Venue: Room G, House of Lords, Westminster

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The Labour Party must remember that its main purpose is to move from opposition to government, according to its former leader.  

Neil Kinnock, who led the Opposition from 1983-1992, was speaking at an event organised in Westminster by the Centre for Opposition Studies at the University of Bolton. He offered his reflections on his time as Leader, and on the current leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

The event featured Lord Kinnock in conversation with Professor Lord Hennessy, the distinguished historian, who is Attlee Professor of Contemporary British History at Queen Mary, University of London and an honorary fellow of St John’s College Cambridge, St Benet’s Hall Oxford and the London School of Economics.

Commenting on the current state of the Labour Party as it faces Theresa May’s Conservative Government in the General Election, Lord Kinnock said:

“As long as the Labour Party remembers that we exist to try and win in order to implement principles and policies, and we don’t exist for any other reason, generally, then it’s OK.  When that is forgotten, when that objective becomes obscured, by other purposes – that’s when the party rally starts to lose its way.

The talk, held in the Palace of Westminster-UK Parliament came just after the 25th anniversary of the 1992 General Election, and just before the 20th anniversary of Tony Blair’s 1997 landslide for Labour. The forthcoming General Election this year gave it added relevance.

The event was the first to be held by the Centre since the announcement of a unique partnership with the University of Bolton. Since its foundation in 2010, the Centre has hosted major speakers including Lord Howard of Lympne, Sir Vince Cable, Baroness Royall of Blaisdon, The Rt. Hon. Charles Clarke, Lord Lamont of Lerwick, Jon Cruddas and Sir Lynton Crosby.  With its new partnership with the University, the Centre now hopes to begin developing courses to advance the study of politics.

Commenting afterwards, the Chairman of the Centre, Professor Mohammed Abdel Haq, said:

"We were delighted to be able to present such a fascinating event to mark the launch of our new partnership with the University of Bolton. Lord Kinnock has been a huge supporter of the Centre as one of our honorary Presidents, and his reflections were given added significance by current political events. Never has the importance of effective political opposition been more obvious, or more topical."