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.