Moving tributes pour in for Michael Foot (1913-2010)

Tributes to Michael Foot have poured in from across the country today after news of his death was revealed. The former Labour Party leader died yesterday morning at his home in Hampstead, aged 96. Mr Foot, who lived in Pilgrim s Lane, passed away shortly

Tributes to Michael Foot have poured in from across the country today after news of his death was revealed.

The former Labour Party leader died yesterday morning at his home in Hampstead, aged 96.

Mr Foot, who lived in Pilgrim's Lane, passed away shortly before 7am. He had been ill for some time with fading health and had been receiving 24-hour care.

The Ham&High has been contacted by several of his former colleagues and supporters this morning (Wednesday, March 3).

Former Labour politician Tony Benn, 85, said: "I first met Michael 60 years ago when I was working for the BBC and I interviewed him.

"Then I was elected to Parliament in 1950 and although he was defeated he soon returned and we both stayed in Parliament until the end of the century.

Most Read

"He was leader of the Labour Party and a socialist. He took over during a very difficult period when some members, such as David Owen and Shirley Williams, left to form the breakaway Social Democratic Party. But he represented everything that the Labour Party stands for.

"He was very popular even if people didn't agree with him politically because they recognised that he believed what he said. In politics it's all about trust and people trusted Michael, that's why he had such a great following."

Hampstead Garden Suburb Conservative councillor and former Hendon South MP John Marshall said: "I used to drive him home most nights from the House of Commons where you quickly learn that the differences in party politics have to be forgotten. He was a brilliant orator - even when he left the House of Commons he was the sort of person people came to listen to. He was a very charming man with a great love of history.

"One of his lovely stories was that when he sat the Oxford scholarship exam his father was the round table conference on India. He spent the night before his exam with his father talking about it and when he went in to the exam the next day and the question was "What do you think the round table conference on India will achieve?" He said it must have been the only authorised leak in the scholarship's history.

"When he left the Commons he caused much consternation in my office. He very kindly sent me a book but my staff at the time thought it might be a bomb. It was a book on Churchill who he knew I greatly admired. He was a lovely, lovely man and a man of principle."

Labour MP for Hampstead and Highgate Glenda Jackson said: "He was extremely kind to me and very supportive from the moment I was selected to fight the seat.

"We were at an event together at Camden Town Hall a few years ago and he still had this enormous energy and capacity for making speeches.

"He was an extraordinary man and it is the end of a chapter of our country's history not just the Labour party's history. He did an enormous amount for the Labour party and the whole political process."

Labour MP for Holborn and St Pancras Frank Dobson said: "His death is really sad because he was as honest a man as you could ever hope to meet. He was a brilliant speaker at great big meetings and in the House of Commons.

"I remember after one of his speeches after I had just been elected I was sitting next to Jack Straw and we turned to one another regretting that we were in the speech making business because we were so inferior to Michael.

"I feel very lucky because my wife and I were invited to his 70th birthday party and we assumed it would be a big affair but in fact it was only 20 people for dinner.

"He did an enormous amount for the Labour party and he was not responsible for the loss when he was leader, we all were. Michael was a very learned man and knowledgeable about the history of parliament. I am very upset about his death."

Chairman of the Heath and Hampstead Society Tony Hillier said Mr Foot was a recognisable figure around the village.

He said: "We would often see him out walking on the Heath with his dog Dizzy and we would stop and chat, as did many others. He was a great orator and a great figure on the left of British politics."

Catherine Boyd, daughter of Hampstead activist Peggy Jay, said: "My parents and Michael were part of this extraordinary Labour coterie of people from Hampstead and Hampstead Garden Suburb. There were so many of them in that Labour Hampstead world I grew up in.

"He was quite left wing for my father's taste but they always hugely admired him and Paul Foot was one of my older brother's closest friends. It was just an amazing place with all these people sitting in The Coffee Cup arguing about politics."

Veteran Labour councillor Roger Robinson said: "I had the pleasure of being senior national officer in the Labour party for some years when he was the leader of the party.

"I had the highest respect for him. He gave a tremendous service to the Labour movement and I am deeply distressed to hear of his passing.

"He was greatly missed when he gave up the leadership. We made him a freeman of the borough of Camden because he really deserved it, he was a wonderful man. He did such a tremendous amount for the Labour party and it is a very sad and great loss."

Leader of Camden Labour group Nash Ali said: "He was a great credit to the Labour movement and a remarkable man. He was a man of true principles and people respected him for his principles and his beliefs and he always stood by them. He was amazing when I saw him the way people loved him and valued him and respected him throughout his time."

Ken Livingstone said: "Michael Foot was consistent in his politics and principles throughout his political life from the 1930s until his sad death today. He was right on the majority of issues when the political establishment were wrong as his staunch anti-fascism and his dedication to the abolition of nuclear weapons demonstrated.

"Michael was a founder member of Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in the 1950s and continued to be a dedicated and vocal member until this very day. He recently said in an interview 'The most important question facing the human race is the one CND raised on that first march - why are we spending a fortune developing and storing weapons which will destroy the world? We haven't made as much progress as we should have done, but the message is clearer now than ever before. The world should listen.'

"During my time as Mayor he regularly attended the annual Peace Party we hosted with CND and Stop the War.

"With the death of Michael Foot the movement have lost a true socialist, one of our foremost peace campaigners and one of the kindest of politicians.

"My thoughts and condolences are with his family.