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The 1992 General Election - Labour

Neil Kinnock
Neil Kinnock's rolling policy review took Labour into the 1992 campaign with a real chance of victory
Labour had an enormous task on its hands going into the 1992 election. In order to form a government with an overall majority Labour required an 8% swing across the country - far larger than the swing achieved by any political party since the Labour landslide that followed the Second World War. The party's main campaign theme, after 13 years of Conservative government, was: 'It's Time for a Change'. However, the replacement of Mrs Thatcher with John Major already represented a dramatic change in the Conservative Party, at least in style if not in substance.

In spite of this, the view was widely held that Labour would at least poll well enough to get the Conservatives out of office. Almost immediately after their defeat at the 1987 election, leader Neil Kinnock had launched a major review of party policy. As a result, the policies which Labour was presented to the voters in the 1992 election were much more in tune with what the party's pollsters and advisers were telling it the voters wanted.

Election news report...

Since taking over the leadership in the aftermath of the crushing defeat at the 1983 election, Kinnock had overseen the abandonment or reversal of many of Labour's more traditionally socialist policies, such as the 1983 commitment to withdraw from the European Community. The policy review enabled him to continue with this work throughout the 1987-1992 Parliament. The most symbolic of all of these policy changes was the abandonment of unilateral nuclear disarmament at the 1989 party conference.

By the early summer of 1989, Labour's fortunes were beginning to improve and with the Government in disarray and deeply unpopular, particularly over the community charge (poll tax), Labour finally overtook the Government in the opinion polls. In April 1990, when the poll tax was introduced in England and Wales, Labour enjoyed a 23% lead over the Tories. The party remained in front until Mrs Thatcher's downfall when, following the election of John Major as leader, a 14-point Labour lead in the November 1990 'Poll of Polls' became an 8-point Conservative lead in December.

Labour never really recovered the large lead it had enjoyed for a time . However, neither were the Conservatives able to establish a conclusive lead ahead of the election. Labour went into the campaign more or less neck and neck with the Conservatives, at about 40% in the polls.

Diana, Princess of Wales, 1961-1997

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