Michael Foot
Overview
Michael Mackintosh Foot, FRSL
Royal Society of Literature
The Royal Society of Literature is the "senior literary organisation in Britain". It was founded in 1820 by George IV, in order to "reward literary merit and excite literary talent". The Society's first president was Thomas Burgess, who later became the Bishop of Salisbury...

, PC (23 July 1913 – 3 March 2010) was a British
British people
The British are citizens of the United Kingdom, of the Isle of Man, any of the Channel Islands, or of any of the British overseas territories, and their descendants...

 Labour Party
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

 politician
Politician
A politician, political leader, or political figure is an individual who is involved in influencing public policy and decision making...

, journalist
Journalist
A journalist collects and distributes news and other information. A journalist's work is referred to as journalism.A reporter is a type of journalist who researchs, writes, and reports on information to be presented in mass media, including print media , electronic media , and digital media A...

 and author
Author
An author is broadly defined as "the person who originates or gives existence to anything" and that authorship determines responsibility for what is created. Narrowly defined, an author is the originator of any written work.-Legal significance:...

, who was a Member of Parliament
Member of Parliament
A Member of Parliament is a representative of the voters to a :parliament. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, the term applies specifically to members of the lower house, as upper houses often have a different title, such as senate, and thus also have different titles for its members,...

 (MP) from 1945 to 1955 and from 1960
Ebbw Vale by-election, 1960
The Ebbw Vale by-election of 17 November 1960 was a by-election for a single seat in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom. Caused by the death of Labour Party Deputy Leader Aneurin Bevan, the constituency was very safely held by the party and never in danger of changing hands...

 until 1992. He was deputy leader of the Labour Party 1976 to 1980, and later became the Leader of the Opposition from 1980
Labour Party (UK) leadership election, 1980
The British Labour Party leadership election of 1980 was held following the resignation of James Callaghan. Callaghan had been Prime Minister 1976—1979 and had stayed on as leader of the Labour Party for eighteen months in order to oversee an orderly transition to his favoured successor, Denis...

 to 1983
Labour Party (UK) leadership election, 1983
The Labour Party leadership election of 1983 was an election in the United Kingdom for the leadership of the Labour Party. It occurred when former leader Michael Foot resigned after winning only 209 seats at the 1983 general election — a loss of 70 seats compared to their performance at the...

.

Associated with the Labour left for most of his career, he was a supporter of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament is an anti-nuclear organisation that advocates unilateral nuclear disarmament by the United Kingdom, international nuclear disarmament and tighter international arms regulation through agreements such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty...

 and British withdrawal from the European Economic Community
European Economic Community
The European Economic Community The European Economic Community (EEC) The European Economic Community (EEC) (also known as the Common Market in the English-speaking world, renamed the European Community (EC) in 1993The information in this article primarily covers the EEC's time as an independent...

.
Quotations

How long will it be before the cry goes up: "Let's kill all the judges"?

Attacking the National Industrial Relations Court and its President, Sir John Donaldson, in a speech at the Scottish Miners' Gala in Edinburgh (3 June, 1972).

I certainly think that a Labour Government will have to have effective powers to control the outflow of capital.

On Election Call (21 February, 1974).

Some fool or some trigger happy judicial finger.

On the NIRC Judge Sir John Donaldson (Hansard, 7 May 1974, Col. 239).

[There are] judges who stretch the law...to suit reactionary attitudes.

On ITV's People and Politics (9 May, 1974).

The crisis afflicting this country, along with other countries of the Western world, is a crisis of capitalism. It is a crisis of the dominant economic system that prevails in all those countries.

Speech to the House of Commons (Hansard, 20 January 1976, Col. 1126).

I've been on the left of the Party since I joined it about 1934 and I haven't seen much reason for altering...I have always been a strong libertarian both inside the Labour Party and outside...what I want to seek to do over a period of course is to establish a Socialist society.

On BBC's Panorama (22 March, 1976).

It's impossible to write the history of freedom in this country without telling how trade unions have contributed to it.

On the ITV's Weekend World (4 April, 1976).

It does so happen to be the case that if the freedom of the people of this country—and especially the rights of trade unionists—if those precious things in the past had been left to the good sense and fairmindedness of judges, we would have precious few freedoms in this country.

Speech to the Union of Post Office Workers at Bournemouth (15 May, 1977).

It is not necessary that every time he rises he should give his famous imitation of semi-house-trained polecat.

Speech in the House of Commons, 2 March 1978, referring to Norman Tebbit

Of all the sights and sounds which attracted me on my first arrival to live in London in the mid-thirties, one combined operation left a lingering, individual spell. I naturally went to Hyde Park to hear the orators, the best of the many free entertainments on offer in the capital. I heard the purest milk of the world flowing, then as now, from the platform of the Socialist Party of Great Britain.

Debts of Honour, 1980.

Encyclopedia
Michael Mackintosh Foot, FRSL
Royal Society of Literature
The Royal Society of Literature is the "senior literary organisation in Britain". It was founded in 1820 by George IV, in order to "reward literary merit and excite literary talent". The Society's first president was Thomas Burgess, who later became the Bishop of Salisbury...

, PC (23 July 1913 – 3 March 2010) was a British
British people
The British are citizens of the United Kingdom, of the Isle of Man, any of the Channel Islands, or of any of the British overseas territories, and their descendants...

 Labour Party
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

 politician
Politician
A politician, political leader, or political figure is an individual who is involved in influencing public policy and decision making...

, journalist
Journalist
A journalist collects and distributes news and other information. A journalist's work is referred to as journalism.A reporter is a type of journalist who researchs, writes, and reports on information to be presented in mass media, including print media , electronic media , and digital media A...

 and author
Author
An author is broadly defined as "the person who originates or gives existence to anything" and that authorship determines responsibility for what is created. Narrowly defined, an author is the originator of any written work.-Legal significance:...

, who was a Member of Parliament
Member of Parliament
A Member of Parliament is a representative of the voters to a :parliament. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, the term applies specifically to members of the lower house, as upper houses often have a different title, such as senate, and thus also have different titles for its members,...

 (MP) from 1945 to 1955 and from 1960
Ebbw Vale by-election, 1960
The Ebbw Vale by-election of 17 November 1960 was a by-election for a single seat in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom. Caused by the death of Labour Party Deputy Leader Aneurin Bevan, the constituency was very safely held by the party and never in danger of changing hands...

 until 1992. He was deputy leader of the Labour Party 1976 to 1980, and later became the Leader of the Opposition from 1980
Labour Party (UK) leadership election, 1980
The British Labour Party leadership election of 1980 was held following the resignation of James Callaghan. Callaghan had been Prime Minister 1976—1979 and had stayed on as leader of the Labour Party for eighteen months in order to oversee an orderly transition to his favoured successor, Denis...

 to 1983
Labour Party (UK) leadership election, 1983
The Labour Party leadership election of 1983 was an election in the United Kingdom for the leadership of the Labour Party. It occurred when former leader Michael Foot resigned after winning only 209 seats at the 1983 general election — a loss of 70 seats compared to their performance at the...

.

Associated with the Labour left for most of his career, he was a supporter of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament is an anti-nuclear organisation that advocates unilateral nuclear disarmament by the United Kingdom, international nuclear disarmament and tighter international arms regulation through agreements such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty...

 and British withdrawal from the European Economic Community
European Economic Community
The European Economic Community The European Economic Community (EEC) The European Economic Community (EEC) (also known as the Common Market in the English-speaking world, renamed the European Community (EC) in 1993The information in this article primarily covers the EEC's time as an independent...

. He was first promoted to Cabinet as Employment secretary under Harold Wilson
Harold Wilson
James Harold Wilson, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx, KG, OBE, FRS, FSS, PC was a British Labour Member of Parliament, Leader of the Labour Party. He was twice Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during the 1960s and 1970s, winning four general elections, including a minority government after the...

 in 1974, and later served as Leader of the House of Commons under James Callaghan
James Callaghan
Leonard James Callaghan, Baron Callaghan of Cardiff, KG, PC , was a British Labour politician, who was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1976 to 1979 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1976 to 1980...

. A passionate orator, he was Labour leader at the 1983 general election
United Kingdom general election, 1983
The 1983 United Kingdom general election was held on 9 June 1983. It gave the Conservative Party under Margaret Thatcher the most decisive election victory since that of Labour in 1945...

 when the party received its lowest share of the vote since 1918.

His parallel career as a journalist included appointments as editor of Tribune
Tribune (magazine)
Tribune is a democratic socialist weekly, founded in 1937 published in London. It is independent but supports the Labour Party from the left...

, on several occasions, and the Evening Standard
Evening Standard
The Evening Standard, now styled the London Evening Standard, is a free local daily newspaper, published Monday–Friday in tabloid format in London. It is the dominant regional evening paper for London and the surrounding area, with coverage of national and international news and City of London...

 newspaper. Among the books he authored are Guilty Men
Guilty Men
Guilty Men was a book published in Great Britain in 1940 that attacked British public figures for their appeasement of Nazi Germany in the 1930s...

 (an attack on Neville Chamberlain
Neville Chamberlain
Arthur Neville Chamberlain FRS was a British Conservative politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from May 1937 to May 1940. Chamberlain is best known for his appeasement foreign policy, and in particular for his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938, conceding the...

 and others for the policy of appeasement), a biography of Jonathan Swift
Jonathan Swift
Jonathan Swift was an Irish satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer , poet and cleric who became Dean of St...

 (The Pen and the Sword, 1957) and a biography of Aneurin Bevan
Aneurin Bevan
Aneurin "Nye" Bevan was a British Labour Party politician who was the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party from 1959 until his death in 1960. The son of a coal miner, Bevan was a lifelong champion of social justice and the rights of working people...

.

Family

Foot's father, Isaac Foot
Isaac Foot
-Early life:Isaac Foot was born in Plymouth, the son of a carpenter and undertaker, and educated at Plymouth Public School and the Hoe Grammar School, which he left at the age of 14. He then worked at the Admiralty in London, but returned to Plymouth to train as a solicitor...

 (1880–1960), was a solicitor
Solicitor
Solicitors are lawyers who traditionally deal with any legal matter including conducting proceedings in courts. In the United Kingdom, a few Australian states and the Republic of Ireland, the legal profession is split between solicitors and barristers , and a lawyer will usually only hold one title...

 and founder of the Plymouth
Plymouth
Plymouth is a city and unitary authority area on the coast of Devon, England, about south-west of London. It is built between the mouths of the rivers Plym to the east and Tamar to the west, where they join Plymouth Sound...

 law firm Foot and Bowden (which merged with another firm to become Foot Anstey). Isaac Foot was an active member of the Liberal Party
Liberal Party (UK)
The Liberal Party was one of the two major political parties of the United Kingdom during the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was a third party of negligible importance throughout the latter half of the 20th Century, before merging with the Social Democratic Party in 1988 to form the present day...

 and was Liberal Member of Parliament
Member of Parliament
A Member of Parliament is a representative of the voters to a :parliament. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, the term applies specifically to members of the lower house, as upper houses often have a different title, such as senate, and thus also have different titles for its members,...

 for Bodmin
Bodmin (UK Parliament constituency)
Bodmin was the name of a parliamentary constituency in Cornwall from 1295 until 1983. Initially, it was a parliamentary borough, which returned two Members of Parliament to the House of Commons of England and later the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom until the 1868 general...

 in Cornwall
Cornwall
Cornwall is a unitary authority and ceremonial county of England, within the United Kingdom. It is bordered to the north and west by the Celtic Sea, to the south by the English Channel, and to the east by the county of Devon, over the River Tamar. Cornwall has a population of , and covers an area of...

 1922–1924 and 1929–1935 and a Lord Mayor
Lord Mayor
The Lord Mayor is the title of the Mayor of a major city, with special recognition.-Commonwealth of Nations:* In Australia it is a political position. Australian cities with Lord Mayors: Adelaide, Brisbane, Darwin, Hobart, Melbourne, Newcastle, Parramatta, Perth, Sydney, and Wollongong...

 of Plymouth.

Michael Foot's elder brothers were Sir Dingle Foot
Dingle Foot
Sir Dingle Mackintosh Foot, Q.C. was a British lawyer and politician, born in Plymouth, Devon.-Education and career:...

 MP (1905–1978), a Liberal
Liberal Party (UK)
The Liberal Party was one of the two major political parties of the United Kingdom during the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was a third party of negligible importance throughout the latter half of the 20th Century, before merging with the Social Democratic Party in 1988 to form the present day...

 and subsequently Labour MP; Hugh Foot, Baron Caradon
Hugh Foot, Baron Caradon
Hugh Mackintosh Foot, Baron Caradon, GCMG KCVO OBE PC was a British colonial administrator and diplomat who oversaw moves to independence in various colonies and was UK representative to the United Nations....

 (1907–1990), a Governor of Cyprus
Governor of Cyprus
This is a list of the British High Commissioners and Governors of Cyprus.Hitherto a territory of the Ottoman Empire, a British protectorate under Ottoman suzerainty was established over Cyprus by the Cyprus Convention of 4 June 1878. The United Kingdom declared war on the Ottoman Empire on 5...

, a representative of the United Kingdom at the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 from 1964 to 1970, and father to campaigning journalist Paul Foot
Paul Foot
Paul Mackintosh Foot was a British investigative journalist, political campaigner, author, and long-time member of the Socialist Workers Party...

 (1937–2004) and charity worker Oliver Foot
Oliver Foot
The Hon. Oliver Isaac Foot was a British actor, philanthropist, charity worker and Christian.-Early life:...

 (1946–2008); and Liberal politician John Foot, Baron Foot
John Foot, Baron Foot
John Mackintosh Foot, Baron Foot was a Liberal politician and Life Peer.Foot was born in Plymouth, Devon, the son of Isaac Foot and the brother of Sir Dingle Foot, QC, Hugh Foot, Baron Caradon and Michael Foot. His nephew was the late journalist Paul Foot...

 (1909–1999).

Foot had three other siblings: Margaret Elizabeth Foot (1911–1965), Jennifer Mackintosh Highet (born 1916) and Christopher Isaac Foot (born 1917).

Early life

Michael Foot was born in Lipson Terrace, Plymouth
Plymouth
Plymouth is a city and unitary authority area on the coast of Devon, England, about south-west of London. It is built between the mouths of the rivers Plym to the east and Tamar to the west, where they join Plymouth Sound...

, Devon
Devon
Devon is a large county in southwestern England. The county is sometimes referred to as Devonshire, although the term is rarely used inside the county itself as the county has never been officially "shired", it often indicates a traditional or historical context.The county shares borders with...

, the fifth of seven children of Isaac and Eva (née Mackintosh, died 17 May 1946), a Scotswoman. He was educated at Plymouth College Preparatory School
Plymouth College
Plymouth College is a co-educational independent school in Plymouth, Devon, England, for day and boarding pupils from the ages of 11 to 18...

 and Leighton Park School
Leighton Park School
Leighton Park School is a co-educational Quaker independent school for both day and boarding pupils. It is situated in the large town of Reading in Berkshire, in South East England...

 in Reading
Reading, Berkshire
Reading is a large town and unitary authority area in England. It is located in the Thames Valley at the confluence of the River Thames and River Kennet, and on both the Great Western Main Line railway and the M4 motorway, some west of London....

. He then went on to read Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Wadham College, Oxford
Wadham College, Oxford
Wadham College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, located at the southern end of Parks Road in central Oxford. It was founded by Nicholas and Dorothy Wadham, wealthy Somerset landowners, during the reign of King James I...

. Foot was the President of the Oxford Union
Oxford Union
The Oxford Union Society, commonly referred to simply as the Oxford Union, is a debating society in the city of Oxford, Britain, whose membership is drawn primarily but not exclusively from the University of Oxford...

. He also took part in the ESU USA Tour (the debating tour of the USA run by the English-Speaking Union
English-Speaking Union
The English-Speaking Union is an international educational charity which was founded by the journalist Evelyn Wrench in 1918. The ESU aims to "bring together and empower people of different languages and cultures," by building skills and confidence in communication, such that individuals realize...

). On graduating in 1934, he took a job as a shipping clerk in Birkenhead
Birkenhead
Birkenhead is a town within the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral in Merseyside, England. It is on the Wirral Peninsula, along the west bank of the River Mersey, opposite the city of Liverpool...

. Foot was profoundly influenced by the poverty and unemployment that he witnessed in Liverpool, which was on a different scale from anything he had seen in Plymouth. A Liberal up to this time, Foot was converted to socialism
Socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

 by Oxford University Labour Club
Oxford University Labour Club
Oxford University Labour Club was founded in 1919 to provide a voice for Labour Party values and for socialism and social democracy at Oxford University, England...

 president David Lewis and others: "... I knew him [at Oxford] when I was a Liberal [and Lewis] played a part in converting me to socialism." Foot joined the Labour Party
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

 and first stood for parliament at the age of 22 in the 1935 general election
United Kingdom general election, 1935
The United Kingdom general election held on 14 November 1935 resulted in a large, though reduced, majority for the National Government now led by Conservative Stanley Baldwin. The greatest number of MPs, as before, were Conservative, while the National Liberal vote held steady...

, when he contested Monmouth
Monmouth (UK Parliament constituency)
Monmouth is a county constituency of the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom . It elects one Member of Parliament by the first past the post of election...

. During this election Foot criticised the Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin
Stanley Baldwin
Stanley Baldwin, 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, KG, PC was a British Conservative politician, who dominated the government in his country between the two world wars...

, for seeking rearmament. In his election address Foot contended that "the armaments race in Europe must be stopped now". Foot also supported unilateral disarmament, after multilateral disarmament talks at Geneva had broken down in 1933.

He became a journalist, working briefly on the New Statesman
New Statesman
New Statesman is a British centre-left political and cultural magazine published weekly in London. Founded in 1913, and connected with leading members of the Fabian Society, the magazine reached a circulation peak in the late 1960s....

, before joining the left-wing weekly Tribune
Tribune (magazine)
Tribune is a democratic socialist weekly, founded in 1937 published in London. It is independent but supports the Labour Party from the left...

 when it was set up in early 1937 to support the Unity Campaign, an attempt to secure an anti-fascist United Front
United front
The united front is a form of struggle that may be pursued by revolutionaries. The basic theory of the united front tactic was first developed by the Comintern, an international communist organisation created by revolutionaries in the wake of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.According to the theses of...

 between Labour and the parties to its left. The campaign's members were Stafford Cripps
Stafford Cripps
Sir Richard Stafford Cripps was a British Labour politician of the first half of the 20th century. During World War II he served in a number of positions in the wartime coalition, including Ambassador to the Soviet Union and Minister of Aircraft Production...

's (Labour-affiliated) Socialist League
Socialist League (UK, 1932)
The Socialist League was a socialist organisation in the United Kingdom.It formed in the 1932 as a split from the Independent Labour Party, opposed to that organisation disaffiliating from the Labour Party. It was led by Stafford Cripps. The League argued for drastic action to be taken by a future...

, the Independent Labour Party
Independent Labour Party
The Independent Labour Party was a socialist political party in Britain established in 1893. The ILP was affiliated to the Labour Party from 1906 to 1932, when it voted to leave...

 and the Communist Party of Great Britain
Communist Party of Great Britain
The Communist Party of Great Britain was the largest communist party in Great Britain, although it never became a mass party like those in France and Italy. It existed from 1920 to 1991.-Formation:...

 (CP). Foot resigned in 1938 after the paper's first editor, William Mellor
William Mellor
William Mellor was a left-wing British journalist.Mellor joined the Daily Herald in 1913 as a journalist, and was imprisoned during the First World War as a conscientious objector, returning to the Herald on his release. A Guild Socialist during the 1910s, he worked closely with G. D. H. Cole,...

, was fired for refusing to adopt a new CP policy of backing a Popular Front
Popular front
A popular front is a broad coalition of different political groupings, often made up of leftists and centrists. Being very broad, they can sometimes include centrist and liberal forces as well as socialist and communist groups...

, including non-socialist parties, against fascism
Fascism
Fascism is a radical authoritarian nationalist political ideology. Fascists seek to rejuvenate their nation based on commitment to the national community as an organic entity, in which individuals are bound together in national identity by suprapersonal connections of ancestry, culture, and blood...

 and appeasement
Appeasement
The term appeasement is commonly understood to refer to a diplomatic policy aimed at avoiding war by making concessions to another power. Historian Paul Kennedy defines it as "the policy of settling international quarrels by admitting and satisfying grievances through rational negotiation and...

. In a 1955 interview, Foot ideologically identified as a libertarian socialist
Libertarian socialism
Libertarian socialism is a group of political philosophies that promote a non-hierarchical, non-bureaucratic, stateless society without private property in the means of production...

.

Journalism

On the recommendation of Aneurin Bevan
Aneurin Bevan
Aneurin "Nye" Bevan was a British Labour Party politician who was the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party from 1959 until his death in 1960. The son of a coal miner, Bevan was a lifelong champion of social justice and the rights of working people...

, Foot was soon hired by Lord Beaverbrook
Max Aitken, 1st Baron Beaverbrook
William Maxwell "Max" Aitken, 1st Baron Beaverbrook, Bt, PC, was a Canadian-British business tycoon, politician, and writer.-Early career in Canada:...

 to work as a writer on his Evening Standard
Evening Standard
The Evening Standard, now styled the London Evening Standard, is a free local daily newspaper, published Monday–Friday in tabloid format in London. It is the dominant regional evening paper for London and the surrounding area, with coverage of national and international news and City of London...

. (Bevan is supposed to have told Beaverbrook on the phone: "I've got a young bloody knight-errant here. They sacked his boss, so he resigned. Have a look at him.") At the outbreak of the Second World War, Foot volunteered for military service, but was rejected because of his chronic asthma
Asthma
Asthma is the common chronic inflammatory disease of the airways characterized by variable and recurring symptoms, reversible airflow obstruction, and bronchospasm. Symptoms include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath...

. It has been suggested (2011) that he became a member of the secret Auxiliary Units
Auxiliary Units
The Auxiliary Units or GHQ Auxiliary Units were specially trained, highly secret units created by the United Kingdom government during the Second World War, with the aim of resisting the expected occupation of the United Kingdom by Nazi Germany, after a planned invasion codenamed Operation Sea Lion...

.

In 1940, under the pen-name "Cato" he and two other Beaverbrook journalists (Frank Owen
Frank Owen (politician)
Humphrey Frank Owen was a British journalist and Liberal Member of Parliament. He was a Lloyd Georgite Liberal MP for Hereford between 1929 and 1931...

, editor of the Standard, and Peter Howard
Peter Howard (journalist)
Peter Dunsmore Howard was a British journalist, playwright, captain of the England national rugby union team and the head of the spiritual movement Moral Re-Armament from 1961 to 1965.-Biography:...

 of the Daily Express
Daily Express
The Daily Express switched from broadsheet to tabloid in 1977 and was bought by the construction company Trafalgar House in the same year. Its publishing company, Beaverbrook Newspapers, was renamed Express Newspapers...

) published Guilty Men
Guilty Men
Guilty Men was a book published in Great Britain in 1940 that attacked British public figures for their appeasement of Nazi Germany in the 1930s...

, a Left Book Club
Left Book Club
The Left Book Club, founded in 1936, was a key left-wing institution of the late 1930s and 1940s in the United Kingdom set up by Stafford Cripps, Victor Gollancz and John Strachey to revitalise and educate the British Left. The Club's aim was to "help in the struggle For world peace and against...

 book attacking the appeasement
Appeasement
The term appeasement is commonly understood to refer to a diplomatic policy aimed at avoiding war by making concessions to another power. Historian Paul Kennedy defines it as "the policy of settling international quarrels by admitting and satisfying grievances through rational negotiation and...

 policy of the Chamberlain
Neville Chamberlain
Arthur Neville Chamberlain FRS was a British Conservative politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from May 1937 to May 1940. Chamberlain is best known for his appeasement foreign policy, and in particular for his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938, conceding the...

 government that became a run-away best-seller. Beaverbrook made Foot editor of the Evening Standard
Evening Standard
The Evening Standard, now styled the London Evening Standard, is a free local daily newspaper, published Monday–Friday in tabloid format in London. It is the dominant regional evening paper for London and the surrounding area, with coverage of national and international news and City of London...

 in 1942 at the age of 28. During the war Foot made a speech that was later featured during The World at War documentary TV series broadcast in February 1974. Foot was speaking in defence of the Daily Mirror, which had criticised the conduct of the war by the Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

 Government. He mocked the notion that the Government would make no more territorial demands
Appeasement
The term appeasement is commonly understood to refer to a diplomatic policy aimed at avoiding war by making concessions to another power. Historian Paul Kennedy defines it as "the policy of settling international quarrels by admitting and satisfying grievances through rational negotiation and...

 of other newspapers if they allowed the Mirror to be censored.

Foot left the Standard in 1945 to join the Daily Herald as a columnist. The Daily Herald was jointly owned by the TUC and Odhams Press
Odhams Press
Odhams Press was a British publishing firm. Originally a newspaper group, founded in 1890, it took the name Odham's Press Ltd in 1920 when it merged with John Bull magazine. By 1937 it had founded the first colour weekly, Woman, for which it set up and operated a dedicated high-speed print works...

, and was effectively an official Labour Party paper. He rejoined Tribune
Tribune (magazine)
Tribune is a democratic socialist weekly, founded in 1937 published in London. It is independent but supports the Labour Party from the left...

 as editor from 1948 to 1952, and was again the paper's editor from 1955 to 1960. Throughout his political career he railed against the increasing corporate domination of the press, entertaining a special loathing for Rupert Murdoch
Rupert Murdoch
Keith Rupert Murdoch, AC, KSG is an Australian-American business magnate. He is the founder and Chairman and CEO of , the world's second-largest media conglomerate....

.

Member of Parliament

Foot fought the Plymouth Devonport constituency in the 1945 general election
United Kingdom general election, 1945
The United Kingdom general election of 1945 was a general election held on 5 July 1945, with polls in some constituencies delayed until 12 July and in Nelson and Colne until 19 July, due to local wakes weeks. The results were counted and declared on 26 July, due in part to the time it took to...

. His election agent was Labour activist and life-long friend Ron Lemin. He won the seat for Labour for the first time, holding it until his surprise defeat by Dame Joan Vickers at the 1955 general election
United Kingdom general election, 1955
The 1955 United Kingdom general election was held on 26 May 1955, four years after the previous general election. It resulted in a substantially increased majority of 60 for the Conservative government under new leader and prime minister Sir Anthony Eden against Labour Party, now in their 20th year...

. Until 1957, he was the most prominent ally of Aneurin Bevan
Aneurin Bevan
Aneurin "Nye" Bevan was a British Labour Party politician who was the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party from 1959 until his death in 1960. The son of a coal miner, Bevan was a lifelong champion of social justice and the rights of working people...

, who had taken Cripps's place as leader of the Labour left, though Foot and Bevan fell out after Bevan renounced unilateral nuclear disarmament at the 1957 Labour Party conference.

Before the cold war began in the late 1940s, Foot favoured a 'third way' foreign policy for Europe (he was joint author with Richard Crossman
Richard Crossman
Richard Howard Stafford Crossman OBE was a British author and Labour Party politician who was a Cabinet Minister under Harold Wilson, and was the editor of the New Statesman. A prominent socialist intellectual, he became one of the Labour Party's leading Zionists and anti-communists...

 and Ian Mikardo
Ian Mikardo
Ian Mikardo , commonly known as Mik, was a British Labour and Co-operative politician. An ardent socialist and a Zionist, he remained a backbencher throughout his four decades in the House of Commons...

 of the pamphlet Keep Left
Keep Left (pamphlet)
Keep Left was a pamphlet published in the United Kingdom in 1947 by the New Statesman, written by Michael Foot, Richard Crossman and Ian Mikardo that advocated a democratic socialist "third force" foreign policy – a socialist Europe acting independently from either the United States or the Soviet...

 in 1947), but in the wake of the communist seizure of power in Hungary
People's Republic of Hungary
The People's Republic of Hungary or Hungarian People's Republic was the official state name of Hungary from 1949 to 1989 during its Communist period under the guidance of the Soviet Union. The state remained in existence until 1989 when opposition forces consolidated in forcing the regime to...

 and Czechoslovakia he and Tribune took a strongly anti-communist position, eventually embracing NATO.

Foot was however a critic of the west's handling of the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

, an opponent of West German rearmament
Wiederbewaffnung
Wiederbewaffnung refers to the United States of America plan to help build up West Germany after World War II. They could not function outside an alliance framework . These events lead to the establishment of the Bundeswehr, the West German army, in 1955.Heinz Guderian stated that the fight was...

 in the early 1950s and a founder member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament is an anti-nuclear organisation that advocates unilateral nuclear disarmament by the United Kingdom, international nuclear disarmament and tighter international arms regulation through agreements such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty...

. Under his editorship, Tribune opposed both the British government's Suez
Suez Crisis
The Suez Crisis, also referred to as the Tripartite Aggression, Suez War was an offensive war fought by France, the United Kingdom, and Israel against Egypt beginning on 29 October 1956. Less than a day after Israel invaded Egypt, Britain and France issued a joint ultimatum to Egypt and Israel,...

 adventure and the Soviet crushing of the Hungarian Revolution in 1956. In this period he made regular television appearances on the current affairs programmes In The News (BBC) and subsequently Free Speech (ITV). "There was certainly nothing wrong with his television technique in those days", reflected Anthony Howard
Anthony Howard (journalist)
Anthony Michell Howard, CBE was a prominent British journalist, broadcaster and writer. He was the editor of the New Statesman, The Listener and the deputy editor of The Observer...

 shortly after Foot's death.

Foot returned to parliament in 1960 at a by-election in Ebbw Vale
Ebbw Vale by-election, 1960
The Ebbw Vale by-election of 17 November 1960 was a by-election for a single seat in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom. Caused by the death of Labour Party Deputy Leader Aneurin Bevan, the constituency was very safely held by the party and never in danger of changing hands...

 in Monmouthshire
Monmouthshire (historic)
Monmouthshire , also known as the County of Monmouth , is one of thirteen ancient counties of Wales and a former administrative county....

, left vacant by Bevan's death. He had the Labour whip withdrawn in March 1961 after rebelling against the Labour leadership over air force estimates. He only returned to the Parliamentary Labour Group in 1963 when Harold Wilson became Labour leader after the sudden death of Hugh Gaitskell
Hugh Gaitskell
Hugh Todd Naylor Gaitskell CBE was a British Labour politician, who held Cabinet office in Clement Attlee's governments, and was the Leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition from 1955, until his death in 1963.-Early life:He was born in Kensington, London, the third and youngest...

.

Harold Wilson
Harold Wilson
James Harold Wilson, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx, KG, OBE, FRS, FSS, PC was a British Labour Member of Parliament, Leader of the Labour Party. He was twice Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during the 1960s and 1970s, winning four general elections, including a minority government after the...

 – the subject of an enthusiastic campaign biography by Foot published by Robert Maxwell
Robert Maxwell
Ian Robert Maxwell MC was a Czechoslovakian-born British media proprietor and former Member of Parliament , who rose from poverty to build an extensive publishing empire...

's Pergamon Press in 1964 – offered Foot a place in his first government, but Foot turned it down. Instead he became the leader of Labour's left opposition from the back benches, dazzling the Commons with his command of rhetoric. He opposed the government's moves to restrict immigration, join the Common Market
European Economic Community
The European Economic Community The European Economic Community (EEC) The European Economic Community (EEC) (also known as the Common Market in the English-speaking world, renamed the European Community (EC) in 1993The information in this article primarily covers the EEC's time as an independent...

 and reform the trade unions, was against the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 and Rhodesia
Rhodesia
Rhodesia , officially the Republic of Rhodesia from 1970, was an unrecognised state located in southern Africa that existed between 1965 and 1979 following its Unilateral Declaration of Independence from the United Kingdom on 11 November 1965...

's unilateral declaration of independence, and denounced the Soviet suppression of "socialism with a human face
Prague Spring
The Prague Spring was a period of political liberalization in Czechoslovakia during the era of its domination by the Soviet Union after World War II...

" in Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

 in 1968. He also famously allied with the Tory right-winger Enoch Powell
Enoch Powell
John Enoch Powell, MBE was a British politician, classical scholar, poet, writer, and soldier. He served as a Conservative Party MP and Minister of Health . He attained most prominence in 1968, when he made the controversial Rivers of Blood speech in opposition to mass immigration from...

 to scupper the government's plan to abolish the voting rights of hereditary peers and create a House of Lords comprising only life peers – a "seraglio of eunuchs" as Foot put it.

In 1967, Foot challenged James Callaghan
James Callaghan
Leonard James Callaghan, Baron Callaghan of Cardiff, KG, PC , was a British Labour politician, who was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1976 to 1979 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1976 to 1980...

 but failed to win the post of Treasurer of the Labour Party
Treasurer of the Labour Party
The Treasurer of the Labour Party is a position on the National Executive Committee of the British Labour Party.Although a post with little power, in the past, it was often hotly contested by people who later became big names in British politics: Arthur Greenwood beat Herbert Morrison in 1943, Hugh...

.

In government

After 1970, Labour moved to the left and Wilson came to an accommodation with Foot. In April 1972, he stood for the Deputy Leadership
Deputy Leader of the British Labour Party
The Deputy Leader of the Labour Party is a senior politician in the British Labour Party. The post is currently held by Harriet Harman, who was elected deputy on 24 June 2007...

 of the party, along with Edward Short and Anthony Crosland
Anthony Crosland
Charles Anthony Raven Crosland , otherwise Tony Crosland or C.A.R. Crosland, was a British Labour Party politician and author. He served as Member of Parliament for South Gloucestershire and later for Great Grimsby...

. Short defeated Foot in the second ballot after Crosland had been eliminated in the first.

When, in 1974, Labour returned to office under Harold Wilson
Harold Wilson
James Harold Wilson, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx, KG, OBE, FRS, FSS, PC was a British Labour Member of Parliament, Leader of the Labour Party. He was twice Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during the 1960s and 1970s, winning four general elections, including a minority government after the...

, Foot became Secretary of State for Employment
Secretary of State for Employment
The Secretary of State for Employment was a position in the Cabinet of the United Kingdom. In 1995 it was merged with Secretary of State for Education to make the Secretary of State for Education and Employment...

. According to Ben Pimlott, his appointment was intended to please the left of the party and the Trade Unions. In this role, he played the major part in the government's efforts to maintain the trade unions' support. He was also responsible for the Health and Safety at Work Act
Health and Safety at Work Act
The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that defines the fundamental structure and authority for the encouragement, regulation and enforcement of workplace health, safety and welfare within the United Kingdom.The Act defines general duties on...

. Foot was one of the mainstays of the "no" campaign in the 1975 referendum
United Kingdom referendum, 1975
The United Kingdom referendum of 1975 was a post-legislative referendum held on 5 June 1975 in the United Kingdom to gauge support for the country's continued membership of the European Economic Community , often known as the Common Market at the time, which it had entered in 1973 under the...

 on British membership of the European Economic Community
European Economic Community
The European Economic Community The European Economic Community (EEC) The European Economic Community (EEC) (also known as the Common Market in the English-speaking world, renamed the European Community (EC) in 1993The information in this article primarily covers the EEC's time as an independent...

. When Wilson retired in 1976, Foot contested the party leadership
Labour Party (UK) leadership election, 1976
The Labour Party leadership election of 1976 occurred when former leader Harold Wilson resigned as Party Leader and Prime Minister.In the first ballot, held on 25 March, six candidates vied for the leadership: Employment Secretary Michael Foot; Foreign Secretary Jim Callaghan; Home Secretary Roy...

 and led in the first ballot, but was ultimately defeated by James Callaghan
James Callaghan
Leonard James Callaghan, Baron Callaghan of Cardiff, KG, PC , was a British Labour politician, who was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1976 to 1979 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1976 to 1980...

. Later that year, Foot was elected Deputy Leader and served as Leader of the House of Commons
Leader of the House of Commons
The Leader of the House of Commons is a member of the Cabinet of the United Kingdom who is responsible for arranging government business in the House of Commons...

, which gave him the unenviable task of trying to maintain the survival of the Callaghan government as its majority evaporated.

In 1975, Foot, along with Jennie Lee and others, courted controversy when they supported Indira Gandhi
Indira Gandhi
Indira Priyadarshini Gandhara was an Indian politician who served as the third Prime Minister of India for three consecutive terms and a fourth term . She was assassinated by Sikh extremists...

, the Prime Minister of India, after she prompted the declaration of a state of emergency. In December 1975, The Times
The Times
The Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...

 ran an editorial titled 'Is Mr Foot a Fascist?' – their answer was that he was – after Norman Tebbit
Norman Tebbit
Norman Beresford Tebbit, Baron Tebbit, CH, PC , is a British politician. A member of the Conservative Party, he served in the Cabinet from 1981 to 1987 as Secretary of State for Employment...

 accused him of 'undiluted fascism' once Foot said that the Ferrybridge Six deserved dismissal for defying a closed shop
Closed shop
A closed shop is a form of union security agreement under which the employer agrees to hire union members only, and employees must remain members of the union at all times in order to remain employed....

.

Labour leadership

Following Labour's 1979 general election defeat
United Kingdom general election, 1979
The United Kingdom general election of 1979 was held on 3 May 1979 to elect 635 members to the British House of Commons. The Conservative Party, led by Margaret Thatcher ousted the incumbent Labour government of James Callaghan with a parliamentary majority of 43 seats...

 by Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990...

, James Callaghan remained party leader for the next 18 months before he resigned and Foot was elected Labour leader on 4 November 1980, beating Denis Healey
Denis Healey
Denis Winston Healey, Baron Healey CH, MBE, PC is a British Labour politician, who served as Secretary of State for Defence from 1964 to 1970 and Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1974 to 1979.-Early life:...

 in the second round of the leadership election (the last leadership contest to involve only Labour MPs). Foot presented himself as a compromise candidate capable, unlike Healey, of uniting the party, which at the time was riven by the grassroots left-wing insurgency centred around Tony Benn
Tony Benn
Anthony Neil Wedgwood "Tony" Benn, PC is a British Labour Party politician and a former MP and Cabinet Minister.His successful campaign to renounce his hereditary peerage was instrumental in the creation of the Peerage Act 1963...

.

The Bennites demanded revenge for the betrayals, as they saw them, of the Callaghan government, and pushed the case for replacement of MPs who had acquiesced to them by left-wingers who would support the causes of unilateral nuclear disarmament, withdrawal from the Common Market and widespread nationalisation. (Benn did not stand for the leadership: apart from Foot and Healey, the other candidates – both eliminated in the first round – were John Silkin
John Silkin
John Ernest Silkin, PC was an English Labour politician and solicitor.He was the third son of Lewis Silkin, 1st Baron Silkin, and a younger brother of Samuel Silkin, Baron Silkin of Dulwich. He was educated at Dulwich College, the University of Wales, and Trinity Hall at the University of...

, a Tribunite like Foot, and Peter Shore
Peter Shore
Peter David Shore, Baron Shore of Stepney PC was a British Labour politician and former Cabinet Minister, noted in part for his opposition to the United Kingdom's entry into the European Economic Community. His idiosyncratic left-wing nationalism led to comparison with the French politician...

, an anti-European right-winger.)

When he became leader, Foot was already 67 and frail. The Tory government was dividing the country and proving highly controversial as its monetarist
Monetarism
Monetarism is a tendency in economic thought that emphasizes the role of governments in controlling the amount of money in circulation. It is the view within monetary economics that variation in the money supply has major influences on national output in the short run and the price level over...

 economic policies to reduce inflation were contributing to a significant rise in unemployment which had helped plunge Britain's economy into recession
Early 1980s recession
The early 1980s recession describes the severe global economic recession affecting much of the developed world in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The United States and Japan exited recession relatively early, but high unemployment would continue to affect other OECD nations through at least 1985...

 earlier in 1980. As a result, Labour had moved ahead of the Tories in the opinion polls, and in the aftermath of Foot's election as leader opinion polls showed a double-digit lead for Labour, boosting his hopes of becoming prime minister by the time of the next general election, which had to be held by May 1984.

Almost immediately after his election as leader he was faced with a serious crisis: the creation in early 1981 of a breakaway party by four senior Labour right-wingers, Roy Jenkins
Roy Jenkins
Roy Harris Jenkins, Baron Jenkins of Hillhead OM, PC was a British politician.The son of a Welsh coal miner who later became a union official and Labour MP, Roy Jenkins served with distinction in World War II. Elected to Parliament as a Labour member in 1948, he served in several major posts in...

, Shirley Williams, David Owen
David Owen
David Anthony Llewellyn Owen, Baron Owen CH PC FRCP is a British politician.Owen served as British Foreign Secretary from 1977 to 1979, the youngest person in over forty years to hold the post; he co-authored the failed Vance-Owen and Owen-Stoltenberg peace plans offered during the Bosnian War...

 and William Rodgers (the so-called "Gang of Four"), the Social Democratic Party
Social Democratic Party (UK)
The Social Democratic Party was a political party in the United Kingdom that was created on 26 March 1981 and existed until 1988. It was founded by four senior Labour Party 'moderates', dubbed the 'Gang of Four': Roy Jenkins, David Owen, Bill Rodgers and Shirley Williams...

. This was largely seen as the consequence of the Labour Party's swing to the left, polarising divisions in an already divided party.

The SDP won the support of large sections of the media, and for most of 1981 and early 1982 its opinion poll ratings suggested that it could at least overtake Labour and possibly win a general election, as the Tories were proving unpopular because of the economic policies of Margaret Thatcher, which had seen unemployment reach a postwar high.

With the Labour left still strong – in 1981 Benn decided to challenge Healey for the deputy leadership of the party, a contest Healey won narrowly – Foot struggled to make an impact and was widely criticised for it, though his performances in the Commons, most notably on the Falklands war
Falklands War
The Falklands War , also called the Falklands Conflict or Falklands Crisis, was fought in 1982 between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the disputed Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands...

 of 1982, won him widespread respect from other parliamentarians, though he was criticised by some on the left who felt that he should not have supported the Thatcher government's immediate resort to military action. The right-wing newspapers nevertheless lambasted him consistently for what they saw as his bohemian eccentricity, attacking him for wearing what they described as a "donkey jacket" (actually he wore a type of duffel coat) at the wreath-laying ceremony at the Cenotaph
The Cenotaph, Whitehall
The Cenotaph is a war memorial located in Whitehall, London. It began as a temporary structure erected for a peace parade following the end of World War I, but following an outpouring of national sentiment it was replaced by a permanent structure and designated the United Kingdom's official war...

 on Remembrance Day
Remembrance Day
Remembrance Day is a memorial day observed in Commonwealth countries since the end of World War I to remember the members of their armed forces who have died in the line of duty. This day, or alternative dates, are also recognized as special days for war remembrances in many non-Commonwealth...

 in November 1981, for which he was likened to an "out-of-work navvy" by one of Labour's own MPs. Foot did not make it generally known that HM the Queen Mother had complimented him on it; he later donated the garment to the People's History Museum
People's History Museum
The People's History Museum in Manchester, England is the United Kingdom's national centre for the collection, conservation, interpretation and study of material relating to the history of working people in the UK...

 in Manchester.

The formation of the SDP - who formed an alliance with
SDP-Liberal Alliance
The SDP–Liberal Alliance was an electoral pact formed by the Social Democratic Party and the Liberal Party in the United Kingdom which was in existence from 1981 to 1988, when the bulk of the two parties merged to form the Social and Liberal Democrats, later referred to as simply the Liberal...

 the Liberal Party
Liberal Party (UK)
The Liberal Party was one of the two major political parties of the United Kingdom during the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was a third party of negligible importance throughout the latter half of the 20th Century, before merging with the Social Democratic Party in 1988 to form the present day...

 in June 1981 - contributed to a fall in Labour support. The double-digit lead which had still been intact in opinion polls at the start of 1981 was swiftly wiped out, and by the end of October the opinion polls were showing the Alliance ahead of Labour. Labour briefly regained their lead of most opinion polls in early 1982, but when the Falklands conflict ended on 14 June 1982 with a British victory over Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

, opinion polls showed the Tories firmly in the lead. Their position at the top of the polls was strengthened by the return to economic growth later in the year. It was looking certain that the Tories would be re-elected, and the only key issue that the media were still speculating by the end of 1982 was whether it would be Labour or the Alliance who formed the next opposition.

Through late 1982 and early 1983, there was constant speculation that Labour MPs would replace Foot with Healey as leader. Such speculation increased after Labour lost the 1983 Bermondsey by-election
Bermondsey by-election, 1983
A by-election was held in the Bermondsey constituency in South London, on 24 February 1983, following the resignation of Labour MP Robert Mellish, who had represented the constituency and its predecessors in the House of Commons since 1946...

, in which Peter Tatchell
Peter Tatchell
Peter Gary Tatchell is an Australian-born British political campaigner best known for his work with LGBT social movements...

 was its candidate, standing against a Tory, a Liberal (eventual winner Simon Hughes
Simon Hughes
Simon Henry Ward Hughes is a British politician and Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats. He is Member of Parliament for the constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark. Until 2008 he was President of the Liberal Democrats...

) and the right wing John O'Grady, who had declared himself the "real" Labour candidate and fought an openly homophobic campaign against Tatchell. Critically, Labour held on in a subsequent by-election in Darlington
Darlington by-election, 1983
The Darlington by-election, 1983 was a parliamentary by-election held on 24 March 1983 for the British House of Commons constituency of Darlington in County Durham....

 and Foot remained leader for the 1983 general election
United Kingdom general election, 1983
The 1983 United Kingdom general election was held on 9 June 1983. It gave the Conservative Party under Margaret Thatcher the most decisive election victory since that of Labour in 1945...

.

Resignation

The 1983 Labour manifesto, strongly socialist
Socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

 in tone, advocated unilateral nuclear disarmament, higher personal taxation and a return to a more interventionist industrial policy. The manifesto also pledged that a Labour government would abolish the House of Lords
House of Lords
The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminster....

, nationalise banks and leave the then European Economic Community
European Economic Community
The European Economic Community The European Economic Community (EEC) The European Economic Community (EEC) (also known as the Common Market in the English-speaking world, renamed the European Community (EC) in 1993The information in this article primarily covers the EEC's time as an independent...

. Foot's Labour Party lost to the Conservatives in a landslide – a result which had been widely predicted by the opinion polls since the previous summer. The only consolation for Foot and Labour was that they did not lose their place in opposition to the SDP-Liberal Alliance
SDP-Liberal Alliance
The SDP–Liberal Alliance was an electoral pact formed by the Social Democratic Party and the Liberal Party in the United Kingdom which was in existence from 1981 to 1988, when the bulk of the two parties merged to form the Social and Liberal Democrats, later referred to as simply the Liberal...

, who came close to them in terms of votes but were still a long way behind in terms of seats. Despite this, Foot was very critical of the Alliance, accusing them of "siphoning" Labour support and enabling the Tories to win more seats.

The Daily Mirror was the only major newspaper to back Foot and Labour at the 1983 general election, urging its readers to vote Labour and "Stop the waste of our nation, for your job your children and your future" in response to the mass unemployment that had resulted from Conservative prime minister Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990...

's monetarist
Monetarism
Monetarism is a tendency in economic thought that emphasizes the role of governments in controlling the amount of money in circulation. It is the view within monetary economics that variation in the money supply has major influences on national output in the short run and the price level over...

 economic policies to reduce inflation. Most other newspapers had urged their readers to vote Tory.

Foot resigned days after the election and was succeeded as leader on 2 October by Neil Kinnock
Neil Kinnock
Neil Gordon Kinnock, Baron Kinnock is a Welsh politician belonging to the Labour Party. He served as a Member of Parliament from 1970 until 1995 and as Labour Leader and Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition from 1983 until 1992 - his leadership of the party during nearly nine years making him...

, who had been tipped from the outset to be Labour's choice of new leader.

Gerald Kaufman
Gerald Kaufman
Sir Gerald Bernard Kaufman is a British Labour Party politician, who has been a Member of Parliament since 1970, first for Manchester Ardwick, and then subsequently for Manchester Gorton...

, once Harold Wilson
Harold Wilson
James Harold Wilson, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx, KG, OBE, FRS, FSS, PC was a British Labour Member of Parliament, Leader of the Labour Party. He was twice Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during the 1960s and 1970s, winning four general elections, including a minority government after the...

's press officer and during the 1980s prominent on the Labour right, described the 1983 Labour manifesto as "the longest suicide note in history
The longest suicide note in history
"The longest suicide note in history" is an epithet originally used by United Kingdom Labour Party MP Gerald Kaufman to describe his party's left-wing 1983 election manifesto.-The document:...

". As a statement on internal democracy, Foot passed the edict that the manifesto would consist of all resolutions arrived at conference. The party also failed to master the medium of television, while Foot addressed public meetings around the country, and made some radio broadcasts, in the same manner as Clement Attlee
Clement Attlee
Clement Richard Attlee, 1st Earl Attlee, KG, OM, CH, PC, FRS was a British Labour politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1945 to 1951, and as the Leader of the Labour Party from 1935 to 1955...

 in 1945. Members joked that they had not expected Foot to allow the slogan "Think positive, Act positive, Vote Labour" on grammatical grounds.

In 1986, Foot was the subject of one of the best-known newspaper headline
Headline
The headline is the text at the top of a newspaper article, indicating the nature of the article below it.It is sometimes termed a news hed, a deliberate misspelling that dates from production flow during hot type days, to notify the composing room that a written note from an editor concerned a...

s of all time. The Times
The Times
The Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...

 ran an article about Foot, who had been put in charge of a nuclear disarmament
Nuclear disarmament
Nuclear disarmament refers to both the act of reducing or eliminating nuclear weapons and to the end state of a nuclear-free world, in which nuclear weapons are completely eliminated....

 committee. The headline stated "Foot Heads Arms Body." Although originally written as a joke by editor Martyn Cornell, the paper ran it.

Backbenches and retirement

Foot took a back seat in Labour politics after 1983 and retired from the House of Commons at the 1992 general election
United Kingdom general election, 1992
The United Kingdom general election of 1992 was held on 9 April 1992, and was the fourth consecutive victory for the Conservative Party. This election result was one of the biggest surprises in 20th Century politics, as polling leading up to the day of the election showed Labour under leader Neil...

, when Labour lost to the Tories (now led by John Major
John Major
Sir John Major, is a British Conservative politician, who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party from 1990–1997...

) for the fourth election in succession, but remained politically active. From 1987 to 1992, he was the oldest sitting British MP (preceding former Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath
Edward Heath
Sir Edward Richard George "Ted" Heath, KG, MBE, PC was a British Conservative politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and as Leader of the Conservative Party ....

). He defended Salman Rushdie, the novelist who was subject to a fatwā
Fatwa
A fatwā in the Islamic faith is a juristic ruling concerning Islamic law issued by an Islamic scholar. In Sunni Islam any fatwā is non-binding, whereas in Shia Islam it could be considered by an individual as binding, depending on his or her relation to the scholar. The person who issues a fatwā...

 requiring Rushdie's execution by Ayatollah Khomeini, and took a strongly pro-interventionist position against Serbia during its conflict with Croatia and Bosnia, supporting NATO forces whilst citing defence of civilian populations in the latter countries. In addition he was among the Patrons of the British-Croatian Society. The Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

s political editor Michael White
Michael White (journalist)
Michael White is an associate editor and former political editor of The Guardian.-Early life:White was raised in Wadebridge, Cornwall...

 criticised Foot's "overgenerous" support for Croatian leader Franjo Tuđman.

Foot remained a high-profile member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament is an anti-nuclear organisation that advocates unilateral nuclear disarmament by the United Kingdom, international nuclear disarmament and tighter international arms regulation through agreements such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty...

. He wrote several books, including highly regarded biographies of Aneurin Bevan
Aneurin Bevan
Aneurin "Nye" Bevan was a British Labour Party politician who was the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party from 1959 until his death in 1960. The son of a coal miner, Bevan was a lifelong champion of social justice and the rights of working people...

 and H. G. Wells
H. G. Wells
Herbert George Wells was an English author, now best known for his work in the science fiction genre. He was also a prolific writer in many other genres, including contemporary novels, history, politics and social commentary, even writing text books and rules for war games...

. Indeed, he was a distinguished Vice-president of the H. G. Wells Society
H. G. Wells Society
The H.G. Wells Society, founded in 1960, is an international association composed of people interested in the life, work and thought of the British writer and thinker Herbert George Wells , and encouraging a wider interest in his writings and ideas...

. Many of his friends have said publicly that they regret that he ever gave up literature for politics.

Foot was an Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society
National Secular Society
The National Secular Society is a British campaigning organisation that promotes secularism and the separation of church and state. It holds that no-one should gain advantage or disadvantage because of their religion or lack of religion. It was founded by Charles Bradlaugh in 1866...

 and a Distinguished Supporter of the British Humanist Association
British Humanist Association
The British Humanist Association is an organisation of the United Kingdom which promotes Humanism and represents "people who seek to live good lives without religious or superstitious beliefs." The BHA is committed to secularism, human rights, democracy, egalitarianism and mutual respect...

. He was elected in 1988 a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature
Royal Society of Literature
The Royal Society of Literature is the "senior literary organisation in Britain". It was founded in 1820 by George IV, in order to "reward literary merit and excite literary talent". The Society's first president was Thomas Burgess, who later became the Bishop of Salisbury...

.

In a poll of Labour party activists he was voted the worst post-war Labour party leader. Though Foot is considered by many a failure as Labour leader, his biographer Mervyn Jones
Mervyn Jones (writer)
Mervyn Jones was a British biographer and novelist, the son of psychoanalyst Ernest Jones.-Literary credits:...

 strongly makes the case that no one else could have held Labour together at the time, particularly in the face of the strength of Militant tendency
Militant Tendency
The Militant tendency was an entrist group within the British Labour Party based around the Militant newspaper that was first published in 1964...

. Foot is remembered with affection in Westminster as a great parliamentarian. He was widely liked, and admired for his integrity and generosity of spirit, by both his colleagues and opponents.

A portrait of Foot by the artist Robert Lenkiewicz
Robert Lenkiewicz
Robert Oscar Lenkiewicz was one of the South West England's most celebrated artists of modern times. Perennially unfashionable in high art circles, his work was nevertheless popular with the public...

 now permanently hangs in Portcullis House
Portcullis House
Portcullis House is an office building in Westminster, London, UK, that was commissioned in 1992 and opened in 2001 to provide offices for 213 Members of Parliament and their staff, augmenting limited space in the Palace of Westminster and surroundings....

, Westminster.

Gordievsky allegations

Oleg Gordievsky
Oleg Gordievsky
Oleg Antonovich Gordievsky , CMG , is a former Colonel of the KGB and KGB Resident-designate and bureau chief in London, who was a secret agent of the British Secret Intelligence Service from 1974 to 1985.-Early career:Oleg Gordievsky attended the Moscow State Institute of International...

, a high-ranking KGB
KGB
The KGB was the commonly used acronym for the . It was the national security agency of the Soviet Union from 1954 until 1991, and was the premier internal security, intelligence, and secret police organization during that time.The State Security Agency of the Republic of Belarus currently uses the...

 officer who defected
Defection
In politics, a defector is a person who gives up allegiance to one state or political entity in exchange for allegiance to another. More broadly, it involves abandoning a person, cause or doctrine to whom or to which one is bound by some tie, as of allegiance or duty.This term is also applied,...

 from the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 to Britain in 1985, made allegations against Foot in his 1995 memoirs. The Sunday Times
The Sunday Times (UK)
The Sunday Times is a Sunday broadsheet newspaper, distributed in the United Kingdom. The Sunday Times is published by Times Newspapers Ltd, a subsidiary of News International, which is in turn owned by News Corporation. Times Newspapers also owns The Times, but the two papers were founded...

, which serialised Gordievsky's book under the headline "KGB: Michael Foot was our agent", claimed in an article of 19 February that the Soviet intelligence services regarded Foot as an "agent of influence", codenamed "Agent BOOT", and in the pay of the KGB for many years. Crucially, the newspaper used material from the original manuscript of the book which had not been included in the published version. At the time a leading article in The Independent newspaper asserted: "It seems extraordinary that such an unreliable figure should now be allowed, given the lack of supporting evidence, to damage the reputation of figures such as Mr Foot." In a February 1992 interview, Gordievsky had claimed that he had no further Labour Party revelations to make. Foot successfully sued the Sunday Times, winning "substantial" damages.

However, in the Daily Telegraph in 2010 Charles Moore
Charles Moore (journalist)
Charles Hilary Moore is a British journalist and former editor of The Daily Telegraph.-Early life:He was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge where he was awarded a BA in History and was a friend of Oliver Letwin.-Career:A former editor of The Spectator , the Sunday Telegraph and The...

 gave a "full account", which he claimed had been provided to him by Gordievsky shortly after Foot's death, of the extent of Foot's alleged KGB involvement. Moore also wrote that, although the claims are difficult to corroborate without MI6 and KGB files, Gordievsky's past record in revealing KGB contacts in Britain had been shown to be reliable.

Plymouth Argyle

Foot was a passionate supporter of Plymouth Argyle Football Club
Plymouth Argyle F.C.
Plymouth Argyle Football Club is an English professional football club, based in Plymouth, Devon, that plays in Football League Two.Since becoming professional in 1903, the club has won five Football League titles, five Southern League titles and one Western League title. The 2009–10 season was the...

 from his childhood and once remarked that he wasn't going to die until he had seen them play in the Premier League
FA Premier League
The Premier League is an English professional league for association football clubs. At the top of the English football league system, it is the country's primary football competition. Contested by 20 clubs, it operates on a system of promotion and relegation with The Football League. The Premier...

.
He served for several years as a director of the club, seeing two promotions under his tenure.

For his 90th birthday, Foot was registered with the Football League as an honorary player and given the shirt number 90. This made him officially the oldest registered professional player in the history of football.

Personal life

Foot had no children. He was married to the film-maker, author and feminist historian
Historian
A historian is a person who studies and writes about the past and is regarded as an authority on it. Historians are concerned with the continuous, methodical narrative and research of past events as relating to the human race; as well as the study of all history in time. If the individual is...

 Jill Craigie
Jill Craigie
Jill Craigie was an English documentary film director, screenwriter and feminist. She was the wife of the Labour Party politician Michael Foot , whom she met during the making of her film The Way We Live....

 (1911–1999) from 1949 until her death.

In February 2007, it was revealed that Foot engaged in an extramarital
Extramarital sex
Extramarital sex occurs when a married person engages in sexual activity with someone other than his or her marriage partner.Where extramarital sexual relations breach a sexual norm it may also be referred to as adultery, fornication, philandery, or infidelity...

 affair
Affair
Affair may refer to professional, personal, or public business matters or to a particular business or private activity of a temporary duration, as in family affair, a private affair, or a romantic affair.-Political affair:...

 with a black
Black people
The term black people is used in systems of racial classification for humans of a dark skinned phenotype, relative to other racial groups.Different societies apply different criteria regarding who is classified as "black", and often social variables such as class, socio-economic status also plays a...

 woman around 35 years his junior
Age disparity in sexual relationships
Age disparity in sexual relationships refers to sexual relations between people with a significant difference in age. Whether these relationships are accepted and the question of what counts as a significant difference in age has varied over time; and varies over cultures, different legal systems,...

 in the early 1970s. The affair, which lasted nearly a year, put a considerable strain on his marriage. The affair is detailed in Foot's official biography, published in March 2007.

On 23 July 2006, his 93rd birthday, Michael Foot became the longest-lived leader of a major British political party, passing Lord Callaghan
James Callaghan
Leonard James Callaghan, Baron Callaghan of Cardiff, KG, PC , was a British Labour politician, who was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1976 to 1979 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1976 to 1980...

's record of 92 years, 364 days.

A staunch republican
Republicanism in the United Kingdom
Republicanism in the United Kingdom is the movement which seeks to remove the British monarchy and replace it with a republic that has a non-hereditary head of state...

 (though actually well liked by the Royal Family on a personal level), Foot rejected honours from the Queen and the government, including a knighthood and a peerage, on more than one occasion.

Health

Foot suffered from asthma
Asthma
Asthma is the common chronic inflammatory disease of the airways characterized by variable and recurring symptoms, reversible airflow obstruction, and bronchospasm. Symptoms include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath...

 until 1963 (which disqualified him from service in World War II) and eczema
Eczema
Eczema is a form of dermatitis, or inflammation of the epidermis . In England, an estimated 5.7 million or about one in every nine people have been diagnosed with the disease by a clinician at some point in their lives.The term eczema is broadly applied to a range of persistent skin conditions...

 until middle age.

In October 1963 he was involved in a car crash, suffering pierced lungs, broken ribs, and a broken left leg. He subsequently used a walking stick
Walking stick
A walking stick is a device used by many people to facilitate balancing while walking.Walking sticks come in many shapes and sizes, and can be sought by collectors. Some kinds of walking stick may be used by people with disabilities as a crutch...

 for the rest of his life. According to former MP Tam Dalyell
Tam Dalyell
Sir Thomas Dalyell Loch, 11th Baronet , known as Tam Dalyell, is a British Labour Party politician, who was a Member of Parliament in the House of Commons from 1962 to 2005, first for West Lothian and then for Linlithgow.-Early life:...

, Foot had up to the accident been a chain-smoker
Chain smoking
Chain smoking is the practice of lighting a new cigarette for personal consumption immediately after one that is finished, sometimes using the finished cigarette to light the next one. It is a common form of addiction.-Causes:...

, but gave up the habit thereafter.

In 1976, Foot became blind in one eye following an attack of shingles
Herpes zoster
Herpes zoster , commonly known as shingles and also known as zona, is a viral disease characterized by a painful skin rash with blisters in a limited area on one side of the body, often in a stripe...

.

Death

Foot died at his Hampstead
Hampstead
Hampstead is an area of London, England, north-west of Charing Cross. Part of the London Borough of Camden in Inner London, it is known for its intellectual, liberal, artistic, musical and literary associations and for Hampstead Heath, a large, hilly expanse of parkland...

, North London
North London
North London is the northern part of London, England. It is an imprecise description and the area it covers is defined differently for a range of purposes. Common to these definitions is that it includes districts located north of the River Thames and is used in comparison with South...

 home in the morning of 3 March 2010. The House of Commons was informed of the news later that day by Justice Secretary Jack Straw
Jack Straw
Jack Straw , British politician.Jack Straw may also refer to:* Jack Straw , English* "Jack Straw" , 1971 song by the Grateful Dead* Jack Straw by W...

, who told the House: "I am sure that this news will be received with great sadness not only in my own party but across the country as a whole." Foot's funeral was a non-religious service, held on 15 March 2010 at Golders Green Crematorium
Golders Green Crematorium
Golders Green Crematorium and Mausoleum was the first crematorium to be opened in London, and one of the oldest crematoria in Britain. The land for the crematorium was purchased in 1900, costing £6,000, and was opened in 1902 by Sir Henry Thompson....

 in North West London.

Fictional depiction

Foot was portrayed by Patrick Godfrey
Patrick Godfrey
Patrick Godfrey is a British actor of film, television and stage.Godfrey was born in the United Kingdom, the son of Lois Mary Gladys and Frederick Godfrey, who was a reverend...

 in the 2002 BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 production of Ian Curteis
Ian Curteis
Ian Bayley Curteis is a British television dramatist and former television director.In a career as a television dramatist from the late 1960s onwards, Curteis wrote for many of the series of the day, including The Onedin Line and Crown Court. In 1979, two television plays by Curteis were...

' long unproduced The Falklands Play
The Falklands Play
The Falklands Play is a dramatic account of the political events leading up to, and including, the 1982 Falklands War. The play was written by Ian Curteis, an experienced writer who had started his television career in drama, but had increasingly come to specialise in dramatic reconstructions of...

.

Biographies

  • Hoggart, Simon; & Leigh, David. Michael Foot: a Portrait. Hodder. 1981. ISBN 0-340-27040-3
  • Jones, Mervyn
    Mervyn Jones (writer)
    Mervyn Jones was a British biographer and novelist, the son of psychoanalyst Ernest Jones.-Literary credits:...

    . Michael Foot. Gollancz. 1993. ISBN 0-575-05933-8
  • Morgan, Kenneth O. Michael Foot: A Life. HarperPress (HarperCollins) 2007. ISBN 978 0 00 717826 1

External links

  • Michael Foot at 90 Johann Hari, 24 July 2003 - In-depth biographical interview marking Foot's 90th birthday
  • Michael Foot (1913-2010) Slideshow, The First Post
    The First Post
    The First Post is a British daily online news magazine based in London. It was launched in August 2005. It publishes news, current affairs, lifestyle, opinion, arts and sports pages, and it features an online games arcade and a cinema featuring short films, virals, trailers and eyewitness news...

  • Fictional obituary of Michael Foot: "what if" the Falklands Task Force had been defeated? Today in Alternate History
  • The Labour History Archive and Study Centre hold Michael Foot's archive at: People's History Museum
  • Michael Foot 1913-2010 New Statesman, 3 November 2008 - The last published interview with the former Labour leader, who died on 3 March 2010 at the aged of 96

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