Michael Foot's death marks the end of an era
THE DEATH OF former Labour leader Michael Foot will be seen by many as marking the end of an era, one in which the cut of a man s jib was less important in politics than what he stood for, or the difference he could make. Mr Foot, a Hampstead man through
THE DEATH OF former Labour leader Michael Foot will be seen by many as marking the end of an era, one in which the cut of a man's jib was less important in politics than what he stood for, or the difference he could make.
Mr Foot, a Hampstead man through and through, would in an earlier time almost certainly have risen to the rank of Prime Minister and deservedly so. For he was a towering intellectual and above all a man of compassion and great principle, whose mind could not be changed by anything other than the most convincing of arguments.
Foot was first elected to Parliament in the year the Second World War ended and remained a redoubtable Labour MP for 47 years. He served in the governments of Harold Wilson and Jim Callaghan, first as Secretary of State for Employment, then as Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the House of Commons.
When he became party leader in 1980, he found himself ranged against the might of Margaret Thatcher and true to his character, took personal responsibility for the 1983 election eclipse, standing down after the Conservatives stormed to power.
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But not for him the challenge of swaying public opinion through spin and style. Michael Foot was never likely to try to impress the public by naming his favourite pop band or claiming that he watched X Factor every Saturday.
Nor was he averse to championing lost causes -like his beloved Plymouth Argyle Football Club. His loyalty in every walk of life could be relied upon and he always remained close to his roots, writing many articles for this newspaper and immersing himself in local issues as well as in the wider world of politics and international affairs.
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Hampstead has lost a great man, and a great mind. It is not an exaggeration to say that neither we nor the Labour movement will ever see his like again.