Former Labour leader Lord Kinnock has said he regrets the way a notorious pre-election rally 25 years ago struck the wrong triumphalist tone.
The Sheffield rally was held a week before the 1992 election, where Lord Kinnock was shown calling out “we’re all right” or “well all right”.
But John Major’s Conservative Party won a fourth, unexpected, general election victory despite Labour holding a narrow lead in the opinion polls.
In an interview with BBC Wales’ Sunday Supplement to mark the 25th anniversary of the election, Lord Kinnock said the rally to the 11,000-strong crowd was given far more coverage after the election was over than in the run-up to polling day.
“The first stories were written in the weeks following the election, and rather too much weight was given to it,” said Lord Kinnock, who resigned as Labour leader following the defeat.
“If I had my time again, I would have taken a different approach.
“But on the evening, we managed to squeeze coverage of the rally into the last three minutes of the 9 O’Clock news, by John Cole (former BBC political editor), and John, without giving any extensive coverage, said ‘This is the most stirring political occasion I have attended since the nomination of John F Kennedy in the early 1960s’.”
Lord Kinnock, then the MP for Islwyn, said the phrase he shouted to the crowd has been misremembered.
“In order to try to get everybody to calm down and quieten down, so we could get on with the rally and get it on the TV news, I shouted to the crowd in the manner of a rock and roll singer, I guess, ‘well all right’,” he said.
“They all chanted back ‘well all right’, so I said it again and they chanted back, so I said come on, we’ve got to get on with some talking here, and everything quietened down.”
He said he also regretted the way the choreography of the event had been changed at the last minute, when the shadow cabinet had to march through a crowd of 11,000 people.
“There was a sort of tangible political heat coming off it, I guess that looked triumphalist, and I cursed the person - I knew who he was - and I took him aside afterwards and gave him a few choice remarks for changing those arrangements,” Lord Kinnock said.
“So instead of modest competence, which is what I wanted to portray, and most of the campaign did, we had this entry into the arena - we had everything but the Tredegar male voice choir singing.”