Michael Foot has died at the ripe old age of 96. Whatever one's politics, he was a true political great. The first time I ever really heard of him was when my Grandmother gave me some well meant political advice when I was about thirteen years old. She told me: "Just remember, all Labour governments spend more than they can afford, and Michael Foot's a Communist." Well, she was half right.
A few years later, during the 1983 election I and a few Conservative student friends went along to St Andrews Hall to hear Michael Foot rally the Labour troops. It was packed out, with a good 1500-2000 people there. I played an inadvertaant part in helping in him make a very good speech when I decided to indulge in a little light heckling. He loved it and sprang to life. I seem to recall he said something about Norman Tebbit, I shouted out something and off he went. It was done in very good humour, which is why we we were allowed to escape the meeting without being lynched!
He also used to come to booklaunches at Politico's and would sit and hold court to an admiring court. I was privileged to publish a book of Michael Foot essays to coincide with his 90th birthday and I also recorded an hour long interview with him which was then released on CD. By that stage, he tired very easily, and we had to record the interview over a three hour period to allow him to have some rest. I recently donated several hundred copies of the CD to Tribune Magazine. He was probably Tribune's most famous editor and I thought they could make better use of them than I could.
There's no doubt that Michael Foot, over a fifty year periodm had a huge effect on the Labour Party and socialist political thought. I may not have agreed with him on much, if anything, but no one can deny his lasting political and literary influence. He may have been a disastrous leader of the Labour Party, but he was a man of principle and conviction. I don't have to agree with him on much to admit that politics needs more like him.