Neil Kinnock gave a rousing talk to members and supporters of Witney Constituency Labour Party in a packed village hall at Leafield on Thursday 12 March — and started by refusing to be called Lord Kinnock. “It sounds like the name of a local pub”, he complained.
“Neil” tackled the Conservative claims against Labour head-on. Labour did not “trash” the economy, he insisted. Gordon Brown really had “saved the world” when the banking crisis broke in 2008.
“The ATMs would have closed down within hours,” he said, “small and medium businesses would have gone to the wall immediately and bigger business would have followed before long” if Brown and Alastair Darling had not intervened promptly.
Their injection of funds to save the banks prevented total meltdown, kept Britain’s AAA rating, and persuaded other countries to follow our lead. That is why the deficit rose so sharply but recovery had actually begun by 2010, only to be reversed by George Osborne’s cuts.
On inequality, Neil described what we have now as “living in Downton Abbey land”: The last time 1% of top earners took 14% of incomes was in 1914.
He described Ed Miliband as a calm, serious thinker, not someone who seeks headlines. Some of Ed’s key ideas are now accepted wisdom: such as the need to control energy companies, opposition to “predatory capitalism”, and the wisdom of not going to war in Syria.
Leafield Village Hall rang with laughter and applause as Neil combined wit and serious concern in a lively hour-long-speech, after his audience had enjoyed home-cooked food prepared and served by local Labour officials.
Neil gave his personal endorsement to Duncan Enright as the Labour parliamentary candidate for Witney, urging everyone to get out and vote.
“Remember that people fought for our right to vote,” he concluded,” “and the percentage of the vote for each party will set the tone for the next five years.”