What will Neil Kinnock do now?

(First Edition)

JOHN SMITH'S personal relations with Mr Kinnock may not always have been easy, but yesterday at the Royal Horticultural Hall the new Labour leader paid handsome tribute to his predecessor. History would judge that 'Neil had the courage, conviction and resolve to lead a party from the edge of the precipice to the verge of victory', he said. 'I do not believe any other Labour leader could have done that.'

But amid the praise of Mr Kinnock for remaking Labour as a modern European party, the question in the minds of many delegates at yesterday's conference was: 'What will he do now?'

In theory, the die is already cast. Mr Kinnock intends to remain as MP for Islwyn, and has been nominated for election to Labour's national executive.

Mr Smith is said to take the private view that it would have been more logical for him to stand for the Shadow Cabinet and no doubt he would have given him an important job. The obvious precedent is Sir Alec Douglas-Home, who went into the Shadow Cabinet under Edward Heath after the Tories lost the 1964 election and became Foreign Secretary in 1970-74.

In one respect, Mr Kinnock has done Mr Smith a favour by not standing for the Shadow Cabinet, since he will not now be metaphorically looking over the new leader's shoulder at its regular meetings. On the other hand, he will be not be bound by collective, Cabinet-style responsibility. Not that Mr Kinnock wants to be disloyal, but as he wrote on Thursday in a letter to the Financial Times calling for German revaluation: 'This morning I can write without my words being taken as formal Labour Party policy.'

The question is whether Mr Kinnock will regard a return to the NEC even with the challenge of ensuring that the party reforms continue as sufficient use of his talents, particularly since Labour's opponents will pick on every nuance of what he says and does to exploit potential differences with Mr Smith. Which is where the ever-growing chatter about him replacing Bruce Millan as the second British EC Commissioner in Brussels comes in.

For Mr Kinnock it is a painful dilemma. His whole life has been in party politics. It would be a big change to take on a job which is partly albeit in the best sense bureaucratic. He also reveres his bond with his constituency.

On the other hand, it presents him at the age of 50 with a new challenge not unlike that faced by Chris Patten in taking the governorship of Hong Kong offering the opportunity to improve the lives of millions. And he is now a serious European.

Leading article, page 24

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?