Hard Times: 1992 and tragedy strikes Labour

Local Opinions

Our community reporter Spring Heeled Jack has written a series of short articles which we will share over the next few weeks.

Here is the latest installment of Hard Times.


1992-A close result

The Labour Party Leader, Neil Kinnock managed to run John Major close and the incumbent Prime Minister had a small majority of around 21 MPs to operate with during a further five year term until 1997.

However, this majority slowly eroded over time to 15 then 12 MPs in the House of Commons.

It meant that the Major government had great difficulty in pushing bills through the political process to become Acts of Parliament in the House of Commons.

Government ministers and MPs simply had to turn up for important votes or the Conservatives would lose their credibility, which was an additional strain on the Prime Minister, therefore the whips would then actively encourage MPs to vote with the government on political matters.

John Smith-Labour Party Leader

John Smith replaced Neil Kinnock as party leader following the 1992 election result.

He was a senior lawyer (QC), and a very experienced politician in social, economic and political issues, who was guaranteed to give the incumbent Conservative party and their leader with a small majority a very difficult time in the House of Commons until the time of the next general election.

Tragedy strikes the Labour Party

John Smith had health problems, notably with his heart and he had to be previously treated for these issues.

The news was later released in May 1994 that John Smith had a heart attack and that he had been taken to hospital but he had passed away at 56 years of age.

Smith was a doughty fighter as a politician, but he was well liked and respected by all politicians, regardless of their party allegiance.

It was Neil Kinnock, former Labour Party leader who monitored the selection of John Smith as leader when he stepped down in April 1992.

Kinnock also wanted Gordon Brown to be selected as Labour Party leader following John Smith’s passing.

Brown was already an experienced politician, having previously pursued an extensive media background with Scottish Television, and as an academic possessing a Doctorate in History at Edinburgh University, so he was seen as a safe pair of hands.

In May 1994 Margaret Beckett was appointed as the interim Labour Party leader until the funeral for John Smith had taken place and the fresh election process began to replace their leader.

Meanwhile, the arrangements were then being made for the funeral for John Smith to take place at Morningside church in Edinburgh.

Gordon Brown, his media adviser Charlie Whelan, Donald Dewar (close friend of John Smith), and Neil Kinnock respected the Smith family and all the political protocols by suspending any mention of leadership matters until the funeral was over.


Article submitted by Spring Heeled Jack.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not the Digital Sentinel

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