If Neil Kinnock had become prime minister in 1992


This has to be one of the more ironic disclosures I have received in response to a Freedom of Information request.

It is a document that was never used. It was prepared by the civil service in case the 1992 general election resulted in a Labour victory and Neil Kinnock became prime minister.

This is the front page of a set of procedural guidelines that would have been distributed to his ministerial team under his name, if his government had ever been formed - it has the initials NK at the bottom.

It is one of a number of official papers prepared for the possibility of a Kinnock premiership, which I have been trying to obtain under freedom of information.

Draft document on procedures for ministers from 1992

The Cabinet Office turned down my request for them, the Information Commissioner upheld this refusal for the bulk of the material, but instructed the Cabinet Office to release this particular document.

Each incoming prime minister has issued procedural guidance to ministerial colleagues since Clement Attlee in 1945. A version was first publicly disclosed in 1996, by the man who beat Lord Kinnock, Sir John Major. It is now routinely published today as the Ministerial Code.


But the intriguing feature of the Kinnock version is point two, where the draft says he will publish this guidance note "in accordance with our policy on freedom of information".

In 1992 Labour pledged to introduce a Freedom of Information Act, and the officials who drafted this document were clearly anticipating that policy.

Given that the Cabinet Office was preparing to release this paper in 1992 in line with a predicted Freedom of Information law, it seems puzzling and ironic that - despite a real FOI law now existing - it refused to disclose it over 20 years later until ordered to do so by the Information Commissioner.

As for the other documents prepared for Neil Kinnock in 1992, the BBC is appealing the case to the Information Rights Tribunal. The government argues that releasing them would encourage officials to write future briefings that are "excessively detailed" and "verbose".

Martin Rosenbaum Article written by Martin Rosenbaum Martin Rosenbaum Freedom of information specialist

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  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    104. This is a colleague announcement

    I agree we could and should be doing much better but it will take a while to clear up after 13 years of the incomparably incompetent Gordon Brown.

    My point is that if Brown`s unrelenting mauling of the British economy had followed an earlier drubbing at the hands of Kinnockio we would now be irreparably stuffed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    101. SJH
    "we seem to be doing rather better of late"


    See post 67.

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    92 - HilaryJ "...voted for" So would I be correct in presuming that you believe that "who you voted for" is never from a party that renages on manifesto, takes from one section of society to give to another in order to attract a demographic tribal voter & conspires against democracy? You are guilty of status quo support & shift blame to the nonvoter & absolve responsibility for what is done!

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    Kinnock; an archetypical
    anti-EU champagne
    socialist who sold
    out for £1,000,000s
    on the EU gravy
    train, truly a man
    of great principle!!!!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    79. mike

    You would have preferred Kinnock? If by some horrendous and malevolent act of fate Kinnock had been inflicted upon us followed by that dimwitted free spending Caledonian we would now be competing with Greece for the economic wooden of Europe.

    Instead we seem to be doing rather better of late. But of course the facts never do sit well with left wingers.


Comments 5 of 105



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