Neil Kinnock’s perestroika
Labour and the Soviet influence
in Labour and the left in the 1980s
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This chapter considers the Neil Kinnock era and the changes made to Labour's ideology by placing them within the wider context of Mikhail Gorbachev's reforms. Kinnock, who replaced Michael Foot as leader in 1983 after Labour's defeat in that year's general election, and his changes coincided with those made by Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union. Gorbachev's reforms initially changed the structure of the Soviet economy, but ultimately altered the very basis of Soviet socialism. The consolidation and growth of New Right politics laid the foundations of globalisation and encouraged both Labour and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), to rethink their economic and ideological understanding of the world. Perestroika in the USSR reinforced the ideological perestroika in the Labour Party and helped to smooth the way for Kinnock's reforms as he challenged the well-worn and comfortable ideological shibboleths.

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