Neil Kinnock had the thankless task of leading the Labour Party during its protracted years in wilderness. He inherited Labour party in its nadir; the right of the party broke away to form Social Democratic Party, and it had suffered its worst electoral defeat in 50 years. Kinnock, who replaced Michael Foot moved the party towards the center, firmly reestablishing the party’s standing as the second political party in Britain, while laying down the groundwork for New Labour.
However, one event that happened just before his claiming the mantle of the Labour Party remained more vivid on the collective memory than everything he did as the party leader. On Sunday 2 October 1983, just before that afternoon’s Labour leadership election, Neil and Glynis Kinnock were strolling along the Brighton seafront. Kinnock believed his victory in the leadership election was certain, and not newsworthy. He joked to the press, “If you want a real scoop, I’ll walk out there, on the water.”
And he did. Well, sort of. Posing on the beach, Kinnock is caught by an onrushing wave; he stumbles, and topples over in an undignified heap. It becomes the iconic image of the conference, and of Kinnock’s leadership – a man utterly out of his depth, shamelessly courting the media and making a complete fool of himself in the process. His collapse on Brighton beach prefigured his defeat in the polls — twice. Although he managed to slash the Tory majority to 21 in 1992, the overconfident style he showed throughout the campaign was the final nail in Kinnock’s political coffin.