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Lord Neil Kinnock (United Kingdom (UK))

The Order of the Companions of O.R. Tambo in

Lord Neil Kinnock (United Kingdom (UK)) Awarded for:
His excellent contribution to constantly speaking the truth during the apartheid period. He constantly fought for the release of former President Nelson Mandela and supported many who were in exile.
Profile of Lord Neil Kinnock (United Kingdom (UK))

Lord Neil Kinnock is a man of conviction since his youth. At university he devoted a lot of his energy to student politics. While attending university, Lord Kinnock threw himself into the whirl of student politics. He organised protests against apartheid in South Africa and the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela, campaigned for James Callaghan during the 1964 elections, served as chairperson of the campus socialist society, and in 1965 was elected president of the Student Union. During his college years he developed his skills as a fluent and quick-witted speaker.

He won a Labour seat, Bedwelty, in South Wales (much of which remained in the new seat of Islwyn which he represented from 1983), and entered Parliament in 1970, aged only 28. Lord Kinnock was elected to the Labour Party’s National Executive in 1978 and then the shadow Cabinet in 1980. After Labour’s worst election defeat in 50 years the party skipped a generation and elected him as leader in 1983 in succession to his close friend Michael Foot. He was elected under the new electoral machinery, which gave 70% of the vote to the constituency parties and trade unions. It was this extra-parliamentary support that helped him to win.

Lord Kinnock had done much to make the Labour Party more electable. Apart from a brief spell as Michael Foot’s parliamentary secretary, he never held any government post. In 1994 he resigned from the Commons and became a European Commissioner.