British Labour politician, party leader 1983–92 and European Union commissioner 1995–2004. As party leader, succeeding his ally Michael Foot, he moderated his strongly left-wing position and made Labour a centre-left mainstream party once again. He expelled members of the hard-left Militant Tendency and reversed policies on unilateral nuclear disarmament, withdrawal from the European Union, and large-scale nationalization that he had once advocated. He resigned as party leader after the 1992 general election defeat, and in 1995 became a European commissioner, with the transport portfolio. From 1999 to 2004 he was vice-president of the European Commission with responsibility for internal reform.
Born in Tredegar, south Wales, he studied industrial relations and history at University College, Cardiff, and worked as a tutor in trade union studies for the Workers' Educational Association 1966–70. He was elected to represent the Welsh Bedwellty constituency in 1970, which became Islwyn in 1982, and remained an MP until 1995. A prominent left-winger from early on, he declined to serve as a minister under prime ministers Wilson and Callaghan in 1974–79 because of their right-wing economic and defence policies. He became Labour's youngest-ever leader in October 1983, inheriting a party which had suffered its heaviest defeat in 65 years. A passionate orator, his 1995 party conference speech denouncing the hard-left Militant Tendency, which controlled the Labour Party in a number of metropolitan areas, was a turning point in the party's modernization, culminating in its subsequent rebranding as ‘New Labour’.
Kinnock, Neil Gordon
Kinnock, Neil Gordon
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