Parliament & Politics: Kinnock urges Labour to defend changes in party

Click to follow
NEIL KINNOCK, in what may be his final speech to the Parliamentary Labour Party, yesterday warned Labour in the wake of its fourth general election defeat not to go back on the changes it has made.

At a two-hour meeting of its MPs to analyse the election, Mr Kinnock and Roy Hattersley, his outgoing deputy, blamed defeat on the four years before the election and the years before that - Mr Hattersley saying that 'the tragedy for the country and for the party was that we had to spend so much time putting things right inside the party that, while we made it very clear what we were not going to do (in government), we did not have enough time or enough opportunity to demonstrate what we do stand for'.

Mr Kinnock told the meeting: 'We must not go back on our constitutional changes, policy changes and organisational changes.'

And in what some saw as a renewed warning against factionalism, with some in the party wary of the political muscles being flexed within the revived Tribune group, he warned: 'We have to concentrate on winning for the party, and not on winning the argument within the party. We have to constantly behave as a party that is serious about government and has the necessary discipline and single mindedness to show that.'

The further modernising internal changes Labour needed should be undertaken so that the new leadership could 'concentrate all their time over the next four years accentuating the positive and putting across the policies we must determine over the next year or two'.

The meeting heard Labour MPs urge that next time the party must have a clear simple message to put across, as Mr Hattersley said there was no future for Labour in coalitions, or in becoming more like Liberals.

The meeting came as John Smith further stretched his lead in the union section of the leadership contest. Margaret Beckett was backed by Cohse, the health workers' union, for the deputy leadership, and John Prescott collected the votes of his own union, the RMT, and the print workers.