IT was seen as the speech that put Labour on the long and rocky road back to government.

Thirty years ago this month, Neil Kinnock took to the stage at the recently-opened Bournemouth International Centre to confront elements of his own party.

Neil Kinnock spent a fair part of that week meeting party supporters and posing for photos, whether in the creche at the BIC or playing snooker at the nearby Court Royal home for convalescent miners.

But the conference would always be remembered for a few sentences of the leader's speech –an electrifying political moment which had large parts of the audience on their feet applauding, while other parts jeered or walked out.

The left-wing faction Militant had control of Liverpool City Council in 1985 and had set a “deficit budget”, warning council workers that they would not be paid unless Margaret Thatcher’s government came up with more money.

Kinnock told his conference in October that “impossible promises don’t win victories”.

He went on: “I’ll tell you what happens with impossible promises. "You start with far-fetched resolutions. They are then pickled into a rigid dogma, a code, and you go through the years sticking to that, out-dated, misplaced, irrelevant to the real needs, and you end up in the grotesque chaos of a Labour council – a Labour council – hiring taxis to scuttle round a city handing out redundancy notices to its own workers.”

This was the point where Eric Heffer, MP for Liverpool Walton, stormed out.

He found himself on a balcony at the BIC, where he gazed over Bournemouth Pier and asked the press who had followed him out to leave him alone.

Then, he returned to the bar and had a cup of tea while supporters surrounded him.

Derek Hatton, deputy leader of Liverpool council, had been on his feet shouting “Liar!” at the party leader, while others had got to their feet to applaud his stand.

The attack on Militant overshadowed the attacks on the Thatcher government in the speech.

In the less quoted opening passages, Kinnock had said: “Comrades, this week in which our conference meets is the 333rd week of Mrs Thatcher’s government. In this average week in Tory Britain 6,000 people will lose their jobs, 225 businesses will go bankrupt, £400million will be spent on paying the bills of unemployment, 6,000 more people will be driven by poverty into supplementary benefit; and in this week in the world at large over 10,000m dollars will be spent on armaments and less than 1,000m dollars million will be spent on official aid; and in this week over 300,000 children will die in the Third World.”

Among those who found it to be a seminal political occasion was Dennis Gritt, later a Labour councillor in Kinson, who was in the conference hall.

“I think it was an emotionally driven speech but it was basically a fight between the left and the right of the party and people that were on the extreme left were trying to push their policies through,” he recalls.

“I thought Kinnock was very direct and brave to stand up. He may have lost his temper a bit, which gave him that Welsh fire a bit more, but he was passionate about it and it was one of those speeches you don’t ever forget.

“They were screaming at the speaker which was not on, but that was how much passion there was at the time. I think it was a breakthrough in Labour becoming electable again.”