Wednesday 3 March 2010

Michael Foot RIP

The Labour movement - and many people across British politics - will be saddened to hear of the death of Michael Foot, aged 96.

I saw Foot speak in person for the first time during my first week at university, back in the Autumn of 1992. He looked remarkably frail then, though this was almost two decades ago. The audience hushed and leant forward to hear his voice as he began to speak. Yet as he came animatedly to life during his indictment of the the Major government everybody present knew they were witness to one of the all-time great political orators.

Foot was the keeper of the cherished Bevanite flame and proud of his continued role as the patron saint of the Tribune left.

He may well have been somewhat suspicious of Fabians and other social democrats in that capacity. He was not, of course, successful in the impossible task of leading Labour in the 1983 General Election. To some extent he had that responsibility thrust upon him, called by the party's left to contest the 1980 Labour leadership contest against Denis Healey, when his own initial instinct was to support Peter Shore. He struggled to contain the Bennite challenge from his left throughout his leadership as he sought to make Labour's case to the country.

Warm tributes from friends and political opponents across the party spectrum will particularly mourn the loss of one of the great orators and men of political letters. In his love of Shelley and Hazlitt and his commitment to a sense of memory on the English left, Foot was an enduring champion of the left's great literary traditions.

1 comment:

Robert said...

It's the end of era and sadly a great loss to real labour. RIP