I've heard Neil Kinnock quoted many times as having said that Margaret Thatcher was 'fortunate in her enemies' (i.e. part of her success was due to her opponents, including Kinnock). However, I can't find the original source for the quote - assuming of course that it's not something which has been falsely attributed to him.

Does anyone know when/where Kinnock originally uttered these words, if indeed he ever did?

(As an aside, if someone with sufficient reputation can tag this appropriately, I'd be very grateful - I can't create new tags).

  • +1 for a far more difficult question than it appears. I hope my research leads someone else to a primary source... – Bobson Feb 10 '14 at 23:10

It is surprisingly difficult to find an original source for that quote. There are many references to it in news reports in relation to Margaret Thatcher's funeral, which Lord Kinnock did not attend (in favor of a previously scheduled funeral). Instead, he put out a radio tribute that he had recorded in advance, which seems to be what all the news reports are referencing. However, trying to track down the actual text of it is painful.

I finally found an excerpt of it here, in a timeline of news of the day. Her death is announced at 12.49pm, Kinnock makes a statement at 3.30pm. However, the quote in question is from a pre-recorded segment to be used when she died, which was released by Radio 4 around 6.21pm. Unfortunately, the phrase is not part of that excerpt, and I can't even confirm for a fact that it is just an excerpt (except by comparison: a few other things on that page say "in full") .

I'm continuing to look for a full quote.

Update: I think this is the radio program where the quote is supposed to have come from, but it's not available to listen to (at least for me). If someone in the UK can give it a try and see whether they can listen to it, I'd appreciate it.

  • Worth noting: He would not be the first to use that phrase in relation to Thatcher. There's a political book from 2008 which uses it, for instance, and I think I've seen one or two other references that predate her death. Sir Bernard Ingham said, upon her death, "It is often said" about the phrase. – Bobson Feb 10 '14 at 23:06
  • I'm wondering if Kinnock had used the quote before the funeral, and was just repeating it (I'm fairly sure I'd heard of it before her death). I've also found another reference to it in 'The strange death of Tory England' by Geoffrey Wheatcroft (2005). – pwaring Feb 17 '14 at 17:38
  • I couldn't find any mention of it in relation to him that wasn't in relation to her funeral message. Although he did record it ahead of time (if that radio program actually contains the quote). – Bobson Feb 18 '14 at 14:38

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