Sunday, 5 October 2008

Neil Kinnock’s finest hour

It amazes me that it is 33 years (and a couple of days) since Neil Kinnock’s finest hour as Labour Party leader. On 1st October 1885, Neil Kinnock, now Baron Kinnock of Bedwellty, made a direct attack on the Militant Tendency's control of Liverpool council at the Labour Party Conference. It brought a standing ovation from the majority of the hall, mixed with boos. Liverpool MP Eric Heffer walked off the platform.

Below are three paragraphs which, for many years afterwards, I could quote verbatim.

"Impossible policies start with far-fetched resolutions. They are then pickled into a rigid dogma and go through the years out-dated, misplaced and irrelevant (or irelevant as the Gruniad Guardian report wrote) to the real needs of our people. You end up with the grotesque chaos of a Labour council hiring taxis to scuttle around the city handing out redundancy notices to its own workers."

"I am telling you, you cannot play politics with people's jobs and services. The voice of the people, not the people in here, the people with real needs is louder than all the boos that can be assembled. The people cannot abide posturing. They cannot respect gesturing generals or tendency tacticians. It seems to me that some of them become latter day public schoolboys. It seems to them it does not matter if the game is won or lost but how you play the game."

"We know that power without principle is ruthless and vicious and we know that principle without power is useless for our people and for Britain. It is useless for our purposes of changing society."

I have rarely admired a man more than I did Neil Kinnock on that day!

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