Kinnock at 80: The former Labour leader on life, politics and his beloved wife

  • Watch Sharp End: Kinnock at 80

He was one of Wales' famous faces for decades.

As he turns 80, Lord Neil Kinnock is reflecting on his life both in and out of politics and has spoken for the first time about his beloved wife's Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

Baroness Glenys Kinnock, 77, was diagnosed with the condition in 2017. The couple met when she was 18 and Lord Kinnock was 20 and married in 1967.

She was by his side throughout his time as Labour leader and represented Wales in the European Parliament, and - unlike her husband - was a government minister serving in the Foreign Office minister under Gordon Brown.

Baroness Glenys Kinnock represented Wales in the European Parliament and, unlike her husband, was a government minister.

In a special edition of the ITV Cymru Wales programme Sharp End ahead of his birthday next week, Lord Kinnock said his life wouldn't have been anything like it has without his wife.

"Right through the years, when I became a member of parliament, when I was leader of the party, she was there as an absolute stalwart," he said.

"She has Alzheimer's, which is dreadful, because she still had so much more to give and now she can't give it and she finds that frustrating sometimes.

"My reaction is different, I find it infuriating, not in any way pitiful, because she's done such a lot."

Labour MP Stephen Kinnock and his father Neil speak of his mother's Alzheimer's diagnosis publicly for the first time. Credit: ITV Wales

Son Stephen, himself a Labour MP, said his mother's diagnosis had been a trauma for the family.

"One of the worst aspects of it is, she just isn't the same person anymore and it takes a lot for us to remember how she was.

"It's painful, it's an awful illness and we've had to find ways of coping with it. But we're a very strong family so we'll get through it."

Neil Kinnock led the Labour Party between 1983 and 1992.

He was defeated in the General Election of 1987, and despite the polls suggesting he would become Prime Minister - he lost in 1992.

Neil Kinnock led the Labour party from 1983 until 1992.

Lord Kinnock also reflected on his time at the height of politics.

In the programme, he reveals what he thought of Margaret Thatcher's resignation, how one of his greatest speeches was only written the night before, the reason behind that beach fall on Brighton beach, and how he found out he'd lost the 1992 election by fewer than 1,500 votes.

Among those to feature in the programme are former Prime Minister Sir Tony Blair, who credits Neil Kinnock as being "absolutely critical to saving Labour and getting the party back into power in 1997", and former deputy Labour leader Dame Margaret Beckett.