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Lazarus and the Gimp
03-03-2010, 17:34:38
Far too nice to be an actual politician. Bye-bye, scruffy bloke with solid gold principles.

Funko
04-03-2010, 09:59:03
Indeed :beer:

Foot
04-03-2010, 12:20:02
He was a leg end
like me

:beer:

MDA
04-03-2010, 13:00:54
MoSe would like that joke.

mr_B
04-03-2010, 13:11:08
a shame MoSe is dead too

Lazarus and the Gimp
04-03-2010, 19:40:46
http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2010/3/3/1267625090709/Michael-Foot-and-Jill-Cra-001.jpg


it was a privilege to enter parliament when he was still serving. He was a tremendous speaker. MPs would pour back into the chamber to hear him. I had read all his books. To me, he stood in direct line of descent, not just from Nye Bevan, but from the legendary, 18th-century radical Whig orator Charles James Fox.

And more than a decade later, Foot was a useful bogeyman to scare authoritarian chief whips like Jacqui Smith with. When she hatched an ambitious plan to arrange for the easier expulsion of troublemakers like me, we would point out that Michael Foot himself had been expelled from the Labour party. And his rightwing opponents had lived to see him return as leader.

My other lasting memory of Foot came from his final months as a serving MP, then in his seventies. At the end of the day, MPs would cluster around the member's entrance of the House of Commons – some to climb into government cars, others into their own big cars, and still others waiting for a taxi. But rain or shine, Michael Foot would politely refuse all offers of a lift and stomp off in a serviceable coat waving his stick – off to catch the No 24 bus to Hampstead.

How politics could do with his integrity today.


****

To describe the legacy of Michael Foot – whether as a politician, a biographer, a historian, but probably most of all as an outstanding journalist and writer – is effectively to chronicle the tapestry of 20th century British radicalism.

No other political figure quite matches this remarkable son of Plymouth – not even his own great hero, Aneurin Bevan. For while Bevan was, without question, one of a rare handful of truly outstanding politicians of the last century, even he did not combine exceptional oratory with a capacity to write in even finer style. That was the uniqueness of Michael Foot.

His legacy contains not only a life of radical courage and political integrity; it is also ranges alongside an even greater reputation as an illustrious writer. He did not write fiction in the manner of another of his heroes, Benjamin Disraeli; yet the range and bravura of Foot's literary output has been breathtaking, and hardly rivalled.

Foot was a kind of renaissance littérateur with scarcely a trace of the characteristics of the dilettante. He was always the master of the brilliant phrase with an ability to recall, even into his 90s, a remote phrase from some corner of Byron, Shelley, Keats, Swift or Heine. He seemed effortlessly to produce these references whether on the floor of the House of Commons or in casual private conversation. And he could invariably evoke all the qualities and values of those masters as he thrust them forward adding to his own gloss. For proof that this is not mere hyperbole, open his marvellous book dedicated as a vindication of Byron, The Politics of Paradise, published in 1988 shortly before Foot decided to stand down from parliament.

Of course he did not become prime minister. The long years in parliament from 1945 through to 1992 – with a gap of five years between 1955 and 1960, when he returned to inherit Bevan's seat in Ebbw Vale – were remarkable enough in their own right. For years whenever he rose from the backbenches the House of Commons would rapidly fill: his campaigning radicalism, his humour and his matchless facility to choose historic parallels hardly ever failed to transfix that most critical of all public audiences – a crowded House of Commons.

Foot could have been in earlier Labour governments – he refused ministerial posts in the Harold Wilson governments of 1964 and 1966 before finally accepting cabinet rank in Wilson's 1974 government. And when he became deputy leader to prime minister Jim Callaghan in 1976 his influence within cabinet and certainly within the Labour party in the country injected a particular new significance into this normally nominal role.

Jill Craigie, who died in 1999, famously once observed that her husband was "not really cut out for political intrigue". His heart, she added, was "really in newspapers and writing". There was, and remains great truth in what Craigie said. Foot, above all, was the supreme journalist and recognised as such across the party political spectrum and across Fleet Street – his natural habitat. But he was also one of the great parliamentarians. He could be mercilessly scalding when he was attacking and rebuking the absurdities of policies whether against the Tory foe or the banalities, as he perceived them, of his own political colleagues.

The thrust of Foot's honesty cut through all intrigue and political corruption. Sometimes that has made him an uncomfortable ally even within his own ranks. But there can be no finer legacy offered by this special nonagenarian than that he would never flinch from the truth even if, oft times, it might pain his closest friends . That is what he did when in 1957 he criticised his greatest political ally and hero, Nye Bevan, for refusing to go along with unilateral nuclear disarmament. It was an exceptional act of personal and moral courage – the very mark of Foot's legacy.

****

devilmunchkin
04-03-2010, 20:46:19
poor guy had an awful last name.

MDA
05-03-2010, 12:30:11
condolences to the Foot clan