The truth at last! Peter Mandelson admits Labour ‘sent out search parties’ to bring migrants here after losing the votes of the working class
Three months after the 1987 general election, Labour assembled in Brighton for its annual conference. The famous smoke-filled rooms were replete with recrimination and disbelief.
How had the party managed to suffer a third debilitating defeat at the handbag of the hated Margaret Thatcher? Most of the dwindling band of delegates simply couldn’t comprehend why millions of ‘their’ people had voted Conservative yet again.
Neil Kinnock, who even after the polling stations closed was convinced he had won a famous victory, enlightened them.
In his keynote address, Kinnock posed a rhetorical question: ‘What do you say to a docker who earns £400 a week, owns his own house, a new car, a microwave, as well as a small place near Marbella?
‘You do not say,’ he continued, adopting a cod Cockney accent intended to mimic Ron Todd, then leader of Britain’s biggest union, the TGWU: ‘Bruvver, let me take you out of your misery.’
It was a reluctant acknowledgement that Labour’s clapped-out collectivist model had run out of road. It was also the moment that the rising generation of Labour politicians realised that they could never again rely on the votes on the white working class.