Neil Kinnock, John Smith, Tony Blair
NO KINNOCK... NO SMITH..... NO BLAIR
Neil Kinnock, Labour party leader (1983-1992) was orginally from the radical left of labour, but it was Kinnock begun moving the party away from the left wing and towards a more centre ground to gain more voters. During the 1992 election this harmed the majority that the Conservatives won by (21 majority)
John Smith, Labour party leader (1992-1994) had previously served in the Labour government in th 1970's. Smith was seen as a 'safe pair of hands' after Kinnock, and he contiuned to modernise the party. He dies in 1994, but it was almost definate if he didn't die he would have won the next GE instead of Blair.
Tony Blair, Labour party leader (1994-2007), young leader (41) Blair accerlated the party's modernisation, dropping Labour's core principle, clause 4, committing the party to socialist aims, showing how the party was no longer related to the left wingers of the party.
It wouldn't have been possible for Blair to create 'New Labour' without the previous modernising of the party from Kinnock and Smith.
The conservatives were constantly battling with divisions and in-fighting, damaging their ability to deal with domestic and foriegn policies. With the major division in the party being over whether or not to intergrate further into Europe.
The devasting 'Black Wednesday' 1992, harmed the conservatives considerably and effected the party's fate in the next GE, of 1997, as it showed they weren't able to effectively deal with economic issues within Europe, with interest rates rising from 10% to 15% in one day, having dramatic economic effects not only on the British economy, but to indiviuals property/mortages in Britain.
The leadership challenge in 1995, which Major believed to strengthen his position actually made him look weaker, as many party member (aprox. 1/3) voted against him and in favour for other candidates which stood against him. Luckily the more influencation member, John Portillo and Michael Hesletine didn't stand working in Major's favour.
1992 defeat for Labour and 4th win for Conservatives came as a shock, and it was considered this was a main factor why in 1994 under Blair embraced the most radical phrase of moderinsation for the Labour Party.
1994- Tony Blair
Tony Blair was a new non-ideological moderate leader, a far cry from the previous Labour leader of the early 1970's/1980's (Harold Wilson, Michael Foot), this non-assosicated with the left of the party was going to work in the favour of the Labour party.
Blair became leader despit being young and having little experience. Supposly senior, Gordon Brown was going to be Labour leader first, but in secret discussions, it was decided Blair would be leader and give Brown mass amounts of power of economic and domestic policies, with Blair stepping down as leader and Brown taking his place (however no time frame was given of when Blair would step down).
This agreement would cause difficulties as time progressed and the longer Blair stood as leader.
Blair as Labour leader, was a huge threat to the Conservatives, Labour's modernisation mwant they had brought in policies which were towards the crucial central ground and furthermore previously Kinnock had denounced the radical and militant left at the Labour party conference 1985.
Blair coined the term 'New Labour', when talking about the party in conferences to deliberately showed the rebrand of the party, showing it's distance from trade unions and the left and it's new stanse of being more pro-business.
1997 General Election
By the time of the GE in 1997, New Labour had made a significant amount of progress compared to that of 1992.
Therefore it was no surprise at the results of the GE with a watershed political event saw the 'natural party of government' completely wiped out with New Labour's majority (418 Mps). There was a 10% direct swing in public opinon from Tory to Labour. 165 Tory Mps elected was the lowest in poltical history.
Labour achieved the greatest triumph of the 21st Century with a 179 majority, and Blair becoming one of the youngest PMs elected (43) for 200 years. Although Blair had no previous ministerial experince and neither did many in his party, he made up for that with the enthuastic charisma and relaxed image.
The great Labour party win shouldn't have come as much of a surprise, due to the Conservative decline due to their failing public image, unpopular policiesand furthermore the sleaze and scandal which has surrounded the party.