Neil Kinnock On Biden’s Plagiarism 'Scandal' And Why He Deserves To Win: ‘Joe’s An Honest Guy'

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tags: Joe Biden, plagiarism, 2020 Election

Anyone under 30 might have been puzzled when Kellyanne Conway, the outgoing White House counselor, recently accused Joe Biden of serial plagiarism and presented Neil Kinnock, the former leader of Britain’s Labour party, as exhibit A.

The reference harked back to 1987 and a blunder that ended Biden’s first bid for the American presidency. In his closing remarks at a Democratic primary debate, he lifted passages from one of Kinnock’s most moving speeches without attribution. The resulting plagiarism “scandal” sank Biden’s campaign.

A generation later, Biden is preparing for three presidential debates against Donald Trump and has the full support of Lord Kinnock, now a Labour peer who always regarded the incident as an innocent mistake.

“Joe’s an honest guy,” the 78-year-old said by phone from his home in north London. “If Trump had done it, I would know that he was lying.”

A gifted orator, Kinnock made his speech to the Welsh Labour party conference in Llandudno in May 1987, kicking off a general election campaign against the Conservative prime minister, Margaret Thatcher. “Why am I the first Kinnock in a thousand generations to be able to get to university?” he asked. “Why is my wife, Glenys, the first woman in her family in a thousand generations to be able to get to university?”


The rousing oratory featured in a party election broadcast filmed by Hugh Hudson, director of the Oscar-winning Chariots of Fire, that made waves internationally. In September 1987, Maureen Dowd of the New York Times wrote that American presidential campaign strategists admired the way it portrayed Kinnock “as a man of character”, noting: “Senator Joseph R Biden Jr of Delaware, a Democratic hopeful, was particularly taken with it.

Biden duly sprinkled phrases from the speech into his own remarks on the campaign trail but was always careful to credit Kinnock. However, in a debate with Michael Dukakis, Jesse Jackson, Al Gore and others at the Iowa State Fair, he rushed through the Kinnock passage in his closing statement and forgot to name its source.

Jeff Wilser’s biography, The Book of Joe, recounts: “Nailed it, he thought. The crowd was silent, enthralled, and even in tears. Biden left the stage feeling pretty good about things.”

“Only one problem. An aide leaned in and said, ‘Pssst, you forgot to credit Kinnock.’

Shit. In his hurry, he had failed to squeeze in the usual accreditation. Prior to this, he had never claimed it as his own, and it had never been a problem.”

Read entire article at The Guardian

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