Michael Foot: Wikis


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The Right Honourable
 Michael Foot

In office
4 November 1980 – 2 October 1983
Monarch Elizabeth II
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by James Callaghan
Succeeded by Neil Kinnock

In office
5 April 1976 – 4 November 1980
Leader James Callaghan
Preceded by Edward Short
Succeeded by Denis Healey

In office
8 April 1976 – 4 May 1979
Prime Minister James Callaghan
Preceded by Edward Short
Succeeded by Norman St John-Stevas (Leader)
Christopher Soames
(Lord President)

In office
5 March 1974 – 8 April 1976
Prime Minister Harold Wilson
Preceded by William Whitelaw
Succeeded by Albert Booth

Member of Parliament
for Ebbw Vale
In office
17 November 1960 – 9 April 1992
Preceded by Aneurin Bevan
Succeeded by Llew Smith

Member of Parliament
for Plymouth Devonport
In office
5 July 1945 – 26 May 1955
Preceded by Leslie Hore-Belisha
Succeeded by Joan Vickers

Born 23 July 1913(1913-07-23)
Plymouth, Devon, England
Died 3 March 2010 (aged 96)
Hampstead, London, England
Birth name Michael Mackintosh Foot
Nationality British
Political party Labour
Spouse(s) Jill Craigie (m. 1949–1999)
Alma mater Wadham College, Oxford
Religion None (atheist)

Michael Mackintosh Foot (23 July 1913 – 3 March 2010) was a British Labour politician and writer, who was a Member of Parliament from 1945 to 1955 and from a by-election in 1960 until 1992. He was also the Leader of the Opposition from 1980 to 1983.

Associated with the Labour left for most of his career, he was a passionate supporter of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and British withdrawal from the European Economic Community. A passionate orator, he was Labour leader at the 1983 general election when the party received its lowest share of the vote since 1918.[1]

His parallel career as a journalist included his appointment as editor for the Tribune for several periods, and Evening Standard newspapers. His books include a biography of Jonathan Swift (The Pen and the Sword, 1957) and Aneurin Bevan.



Foot's father, Isaac Foot (1880–1960), was a solicitor and founder of the Plymouth law firm Foot and Bowden (which merged with another firm to become Foot Anstey). Isaac Foot was an active member of the Liberal Party and was Liberal Member of Parliament for Bodmin in Cornwall 1922–1924 and 1929–1935 and a Lord Mayor of Plymouth.[2]

Michael Foot's elder brothers were Sir Dingle Foot MP (1905–1978), a Liberal and subsequently Labour MP; Hugh Foot, Baron Caradon (1907–1990), a Governor of Cyprus, a representative of the United Kingdom at the United Nations from 1964 to 1970, and father to campaigning journalist Paul Foot (1937–2004) and charity worker Oliver Foot (1946–2008); and Liberal politician John Foot, Baron Foot (1909–1999).

Foot had three other siblings: Margaret Elizabeth Foot (1911–1965), Jennifer Mackintosh Highet[3] (born 1916) and Christopher Isaac Foot (born 1917).[4]

Early life

Michael Foot was born in Lipson Terrace, Plymouth, Devon, the fifth of seven children of Isaac and Scottish Eva[5] (née Mackintosh, died 17 May 1946)[6] He was educated at Plymouth College Preparatory School and Leighton Park School in Reading. He then went on to read Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Wadham College, Oxford. Foot was the President of the Oxford Union. He also took part in the ESU USA Tour (the debating tour of the USA run by the English-Speaking Union). On graduating in 1934, he took a job as a shipping clerk in Birkenhead. 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 by Oxford University Labour Club 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."[7] Foot joined the Labour Party and first stood for parliament at the age of 22 in the 1935 general election, when he contested Monmouth. During this election Foot criticised the Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, for seeking rearmament. In his election address Foot contended that "the armaments race in Europe must be stopped now".[8] Foot also supported unilateral disarmament, after multilateral disarmament talks at Geneva had broken down in 1933.[9]

He became a journalist, working briefly on the New Statesman, before joining the left-wing weekly Tribune when it was set up in early 1937 to support the Unity Campaign, an attempt to secure an anti-fascist United Front between Labour and the parties to its left. The campaign's members were Stafford Cripps's (Labour-affiliated) Socialist League, the Independent Labour Party and the Communist Party of Great Britain (CP). Foot resigned in 1938 after the paper's first editor, William Mellor, was fired for refusing to adopt a new CP policy of backing a Popular Front, including non-socialist parties, against fascism and appeasement.


On the recommendation of Aneurin Bevan, Foot was soon hired by Lord Beaverbrook to work as a writer on his Evening Standard. (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. In 1940, under the pen-name "Cato" he and two other Beaverbrook journalists (Frank Owen, editor of the Standard, and Peter Howard of the Daily Express) published Guilty Men, a Left Book Club book attacking the appeasement policy of the Chamberlain government that became a run-away best-seller. Beaverbrook made Foot editor of the Evening Standard 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.[10] Foot was speaking in defence of the Daily Mirror, which had criticised the conduct of the war by the Churchill Government. He mocked the notion that the Government would make no more territorial demands 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, and was effectively an official Labour Party paper. He rejoined Tribune 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.

Member of Parliament

Foot fought the Plymouth Devonport constituency in the 1945 general election. 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. Until 1957, he was the most prominent ally of Aneurin Bevan, 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 and Ian Mikardo of the pamphlet Keep Left in 1947), but in the wake of the communist seizure of power in Hungary 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, an opponent of West German rearmament in the early 1950s and a founder member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Under his editorship, Tribune opposed both the British government's Suez 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 shortly after Foot's death.[11]

Foot returned to parliament in 1960 at a by-election in Ebbw Vale in Monmouthshire, 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.

Harold Wilson – the subject of an enthusiastic campaign biography by Foot published by Robert Maxwell'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 and reform the trade unions, was against the Vietnam War and Rhodesia's unilateral declaration of independence, and denounced the Soviet suppression of "socialism with a human face" in Czechoslovakia in 1968. He also famously allied with the Tory right-winger Enoch Powell 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 but failed to win the post of Treasurer of the Labour Party.

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 of the party, along with Edward Short and Anthony Crosland. 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, Foot became Secretary of State for Employment. 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. Foot was one of the mainstays of the "no" campaign in the 1975 referendum on British membership of the European Economic Community. When Wilson retired in 1976, Foot contested the party leadership and led in the first ballot, but was ultimately defeated by James Callaghan. Later that year, Foot was elected Deputy Leader and served as Leader of 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, the Prime Minister of India, after she prompted the declaration of a state of emergency.

Labour leadership

Following Labour's 1979 general election defeat by Margaret Thatcher, Foot was elected Labour leader in 1980, beating Denis Healey 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. 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, a Tribunite like Foot, and Peter Shore, an anti-European right-winger.)

When he became leader, Foot was already 67 and frail – and almost immediately after his election as leader was faced with a serious crisis: the creation in early 1981 of a breakaway party by four senior Labour right-wingers, Roy Jenkins, Shirley Williams, David Owen and William Rodgers (the so-called "Gang of Four"), the Social Democratic Party. The SDP won the support of large sections of the media, and for more than a year 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 by the narrowest of margins – Foot struggled to make an impact and was widely criticised for it, though his performances in the Commons, most notably on the Falklands war 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)[12] at the wreath-laying ceremony at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Day in November 1981, for which he was likened to an "out-of-work navvy" by one of Labour's own MPs.[13] 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 in Manchester.[14]

When the Falklands conflict ended on 14 June 1982 with a British victory over Argentina this caused a huge boost in popularity for the Tories, as did the return to economic growth later in the year.

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, in which Peter Tatchell was its candidate, standing against a Tory, a Liberal (eventual winner Simon Hughes) 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 and Foot remained leader for the 1983 general election.


The 1983 Labour manifesto, strongly socialist 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, nationalise banks and leave the then EEC. 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, who came close to them in terms of votes but were still a long way behind in terms of seats.[15] Despite this, Foot was very critical of the Alliance, accusing them of "siphoning" Labour support and enabling the Tories to win more seats.[16]

Foot resigned and was succeeded by Neil Kinnock as leader. Gerald Kaufman, once Harold Wilson's press officer and during the 1980s prominent on the Labour right, described the 1983 Labour manifesto as "the longest suicide note in history". 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 in 1945. Members joked that they had not expected Foot to allow the slogan "Think positive, Act positive, Vote Labour" on grammatical grounds.[citation needed]

Backbenches and retirement

Foot took a back seat in Labour politics after 1983 and retired from the House of Commons in 1992 but remained politically active. From 1987 to 1992, he was the oldest sitting British MP (preceding former Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath). He defended Salman Rushdie, the novelist who was subject to a fatwa 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.[17] The Guardian's political editor Michael White criticised Foot's "overgenerous" support for Croatian leader Franjo Tuđman.[18]

Foot remained a high-profile member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. He wrote several books, including highly regarded biographies of Aneurin Bevan and H. G. Wells. Indeed, he was a distinguished Vice-president of the H. G. Wells Society. 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 and a Distinguished Supporter of the British Humanist Association.[19]

In a poll of Labour party activists he was voted the worst post-war Labour party leader.[20] Though Foot is considered by many a failure as Labour leader, his biographer Mervyn Jones 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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

A portrait of Foot by the artist Robert Lenkiewicz now permanently hangs in Portcullis House, Westminster.

Gordievsky allegations

Oleg Gordievsky, a high-ranking KGB officer who defected from the Soviet Union to Britain in 1985, made allegations against Foot in his 1995 memoirs.[21] The Sunday Times, 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.[22] 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."[23] In a February 1992 interview, Gordievsky had claimed that he had no further Labour Party revelations to make.[23] Foot successfully sued The Sunday Times, winning "substantial" damages.[22]

However, in the The Daily Telegraph in 2010 Charles Moore 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.[24]

Plymouth Argyle

Foot was a passionate supporter of Plymouth Argyle Football Club from his childhood and once remarked that he wasn't going to die until he had seen them play in the Premiership.[citation needed]

He served for several years as a director of the club, seeing two promotions under his tenure.[25]

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.[25][26]

Personal life

Foot had no children.[27] He was married to the film-maker, author and feminist historian Jill Craigie (1911–1999) from 1949 until her death.

In February 2007, it was revealed that Foot engaged in an extramarital affair with a black woman around 35 years his junior in the early 1970s. The affair, which lasted nearly a year, put a considerable strain on his marriage, not least because he spent many thousands of pounds paying the woman's bills. The affair is detailed in Foot's official biography, published in March 2007.[28]

On 23 July 2006, his 93rd birthday, Michael Foot became the longest-lived leader of a major British political party, passing Lord Callaghan's record of 92 years, 364 days.

A staunch republican (though actually well-liked by the Royal Family on a personal level)[29] Foot had rejected honours from the Queen and the government, including a knighthood and a peerage, on more than one occasion. This was the opposite view of his brothers, who accepted peerages and a knighthood.


Foot suffered from asthma until 1963 (which disqualified him from active service in World War II) and eczema until middle age.[30]

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 for the rest of his life.[31] According to former MP Tam Dalyell, Foot had up to the accident been a chain-smoker, but gave up the habit thereafter.[32]

In 1976, Foot became blind in one eye following an attack of shingles.[33]


Foot died at his Hampstead, North London 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,[34] 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."[35] Foot's funeral was a non-religious service, held on 15 March 2010 at Golders Green Crematorium in North West London.[36]

Fictional depiction

Foot was portrayed by Patrick Godfrey in the 2002 BBC production of Ian Curteis' long unproduced The Falklands Play.


  1. ^ Richard Kelly "Not as daft as you thought", New Statesman, 2 June 2003
  2. ^ Foot, John. "Isaac Foot". in Duncan Brack. Dictionary of Liberal Biography. Malcolm Baines, Katie Hall, Graham Lippiatt, Tony Little, Mark Pack, Geoffrey Sell, Jen Tankard (1st ed. ed.). Artillery Row, London: Politico's Publishing. pp. 109–112. ISBN 1902301099. 
  3. ^ thePeerage.com
  4. ^ thePeerage.com
  5. ^ politics.co.uk obituary
  6. ^ Extraordinary life of Apostle of England
  7. ^ Smith, Cameron (1989). Unfinished Journey: The Lewis Family. Toronto: Summerhill Press. pp. 161–162. ISBN 0-929091-04-3.  Foot in an interview with the author in 1985
  8. ^ Mervyn Jones, Michael Foot (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1994), p. 43.
  9. ^ Ibid, p. 30.
  10. ^ The World at War, Episode 15: "The Home Front 1940-44", imdb page
  11. ^ Anthony Howard "Michael Foot: The last of a dying breed", Daily Telegraph, 5 March 2010
  12. ^ Michael Foot Craig Murray (Writer and broadcaster), 13 May 2009
  13. ^ Dominic Sandbrook Review of Michael Foot: a Life by Kenneth O Morgan, Sunday Telegraph, 11 March 2007
  14. ^ Dedicated Followers of Fashion BBC Radio Four - Today
  15. ^ "1983: Thatcher triumphs again". BBC News Online. BBC. 5 April 2005. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/vote_2005/basics/4393313.stm. Retrieved 5 January 2010. 
  16. ^ "9 June 1983: Thatcher wins landslide victory". On This Day. BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/june/9/newsid_2500000/2500847.stm. Retrieved 5 January 2010. 
  17. ^ The British Croatian Society Registered Charity No. 1086139 Info and CV's of the members, retrieved 29 January 2009
  18. ^ Michael White (18 April 2007). "Michael Foot's lucky life". The Times Literary Supplement. http://tls.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,25346-2637313,00.html. Retrieved 3 July 2009. 
  19. ^ Distinguished Supporters British Humanist Association
  20. ^ Newsnight: Michael Crick (25 September 2008). "Place That Labour Face". BBC News. http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/newsnight/michaelcrick/2008/09/place_that_labour_face.html. Retrieved 24 June 2009. 
  21. ^ Gordievsky, Oleg (1995). Next Stop Execution. Macmillan. ISBN 0333620860.  pages 187-189
  22. ^ a b Rhys Williams "'Sunday Times' pays Foot damages over KGB claim", The Independent, 8 July 1995
  23. ^ a b Leading Article: Michael Foot's tainted accuser", The Independent, 20 February 1995
  24. ^ Charles Moore " title="Linkification: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/charlesmoore/7377111/Was-Foot-a-national-treasure-or-the-KGBs-useful-idiot.html">http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/charlesmoore/7377111/Was-Foot-a-national-treasure-or-the-KGBs-useful-idiot.html "Was Foot a national treasure or the KGB’s useful idiot?", The Daily Telegraph, 5 March 2010
  25. ^ a b Michael Foot Plymouth Argyle, 3 March 2010
  26. ^ Michael Foot's passion for Plymouth Argyle BBC News, 3 March 2010
  27. ^ Former UK Labour Party Leader Michael Foot dies
  28. ^ Michael Foot had a young black mistress
  29. ^ Brooks, Richard (25 February 2007). "Michael Foot had a young black mistress". The Sunday Times. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article1434627.ece. Retrieved 17 August 2009. 
  30. ^ Obituary, The Times, 4 March 2010
  31. ^ Obituary, Daily Telegraph, 3 March 2010
  32. ^ Michael Foot was the heart and soul of Labour and a giant of the movement - even his enemies will mourn
  33. ^ Mervyn Jones Obituary The Guardian, 3 March 2010
  34. ^ Former Labour leader Michael Foot has died BBC News, 3 March 2010
  35. ^ "Michael Foot dies". New Statesman. http://www.newstatesman.com/2010/03/foot-dies-aged-leader-labour. 
  36. ^ Gordon Brown leads mourners at funeral of Michael Foot


  • "Cato". Guilty Men. Left Book Club. 1940.
  • "Brendan and Beverley" (as "Cassius"). Victor Gollancz. 1940.
  • Foot, Michael: The Pen and the Sword. MacGibbon and Kee. 1957. ISBN 0-261-61989-6
  • Foot, Michael: Aneurin Bevan. MacGibbon and Kee. 1962 (vol 1); 1973 (vol 2) ISBN 0-261-61508-4
  • Foot, Michael: Debts of Honour. Harper and Row. 1981. ISBN 0-06-039001-8
  • Foot, Michael: Another Heart and Other Pulses. Collins. 1984.
  • Foot, Michael: H. G.: The History of Mr Wells. Doubleday. 1985.
  • Foot, Michael: Loyalists and Loners. Collins. 1986.
  • Foot, Michael: Politics of Paradise. HarperCollins. 1989. ISBN 0-06-039091-3
  • Foot, Michael: 'Introduction' in Swift, Jonathan. Gulliver's Travels. Penguin (Penguin Classics), 1967 & 1985.
  • Foot, Michael (1997). "Bevan's Message to the World". in Goodman, Geoffrey (ed.). The State of the Nation: The Political Legacy of Aneurin Bevan. London: Gollancz. pp. 179–207. ISBN 0575063084. 
  • Foot, Michael: 'Introduction' in Russell, Bertrand: Autobiography (Routledge, 1998)
  • Foot, Michael: Dr Strangelove, I Presume (Gollancz, 1999)
  • Foot, Michael: The Uncollected Michael Foot (ed Brian Brivati, Politicos Publishing, 2003)
  • Foot, Michael: 'Foreword' in Rosen, Greg: Old Labour to New (Methuen Publishing, 2005)
  • Foot, Michael: Isaac Foot: A West Country Boy - Apostle of England. (Politicos, 2006)


  • Hoggart, Simon; & Leigh, David. Michael Foot: a Portrait. Hodder. 1981. ISBN 0-340-27040-3
  • Jones, Mervyn. 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

  • The Labour History Archive and Study Centre hold Michael Foot's archive at: People's History Museum
  • The last published interview with the former Labour leader, who died on 3 March 2010 at the aged of 96. Michael Foot 1913-2010
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Leslie Hore-Belisha
Member of Parliament for Plymouth Devonport
Succeeded by
Joan Vickers
Preceded by
Aneurin Bevan
Member of Parliament for Ebbw Vale
Succeeded by
Llew Smith
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Robert Edwards
Oldest sitting member
(not Father of the House)

1987 - 1992
Succeeded by
Edward Heath
Political offices
Preceded by
William Whitelaw
Secretary of State for Employment
Succeeded by
Albert Booth
Preceded by
Edward Short
Deputy Leader of the Labour Party
Succeeded by
Denis Healey
Preceded by
Edward Short
Lord President of the Council
Succeeded by
The Lord Soames
Leader of the House of Commons
Succeeded by
Norman St John-Stevas
Preceded by
James Callaghan
Leader of the British Labour Party
Succeeded by
Neil Kinnock
Leader of the Opposition
Media offices
Preceded by
Frank Owen
Editor of the Evening Standard
Succeeded by
Sydney Elliott
Preceded by
Jon Kimche
and Evelyn Anderson
Editor of Tribune
(jointly with Evelyn Anderson)

Succeeded by
Bob Edwards
Preceded by
Bob Edwards
Editor of Tribune
Succeeded by
Richard Clements


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Michael Mackintosh Foot (born 23 July 1913) is a British politician, son of the politician Isaac Foot. He was leader of the Labour Party from 1980 to 1983.


  • Think of it! A second chamber selected by the Whips. A seraglio of eunuchs.
    • House of Commons speech (3 February 1969).
  • 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.
  • Since the matter has been raised, can I say, Mr Speaker, that the individual concerned is not an endorsed member– [jeering] .. the individual concerned is not an endorsed member of the Labour Party, and so far as I am concerned never will be an endorsed member?
    • In the House of Commons, 3 December 1981, referring to Peter Tatchell. Foot subsequently corrected "endorsed member" to "endorsed candidate".
  • We are not here in this world to find elegant solutions, pregnant with initiative, or to serve the ways and modes of profitable progress. No, we are here to provide for all those who are weaker and hungrier, more battered and crippled than ourselves. That is our only certain good and great purpose on earth, and if you ask me about those insoluble economic problems that may arise if the top is deprived of their initiative, I would answer 'To hell with them.' The top is greedy and mean and will always find a way to take care of themselves. They always do.
    • Speech before the 1983 General Election.
  • The right hon. Member for Heseltine-- [Laughter.] --well, that is what he is ; he sticks to that principle more than he does to Henley
    • In the House of Commons, 26 March 1991, referring to Michael Heseltine. MPs are referred to in the House by the constituency they represent rather than by their name, so Mr Heseltine would be "Rt. Hon. Member for Henley". Whether by accident or intent, Foot mixed this up in a way which clearly amused other MPs.

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