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Front Page | UK Politics | Labour's centenary
A history of Labour
Click on the arrows to follow the history of the Labour Party.
1979 - 1994
Opposition and reform
Neil Kinnock: Began long road back - but never reached the goal.

Video  Neil Kinnock condemns the militants in the party at the 1985 Labour Conference.

Video  The BBC reports the death of John Smith.
Opposition and reform

The shock of Labour's 1979 defeat provokes bitter recriminations that are not helped by a further crashing defeat under left-wing leader Michael Foot in 1983.

Foot is quickly replaced by Neil Kinnock, who bids to change a party challenged by both a self-confident Conservative Party and the threat of being replaced as the opposition by breakaway right-wingers who set up the new Social Democratic Party and join an electoral pact with the Liberals.

Under Kinnock the party moves steadily to the right, playing down its ties with the unions and its policies on the redistribution of wealth. A commitment to unilateral nuclear disarmament is ditched.

Despite the changes, the party rallies only slightly at the 1987 election. It again fails to take power in 1992 after the Tories replace Margaret Thatcher with the relatively unknown John Major in 1990.

Neil Kinnock is succeeded as Labour leader by the much respected John Smith. His tragic early death in 1994 sees a new generation taking control of the party and the fight back to power.

1900-1906
1945-1951
1906-1914
1951-1964
1914-1924
/hi/english/static/in_depth/uk_politics/2000/labour_centenary/1964_1970.stm1964-1970
1924-1931
1970-1979
1931-1939
1979-1994
1939-1945
1994-2000
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