Farewell Michael Foot, atheist, champion of free speech and idealistic politician

Farewell Michael Foot, atheist, champion of free speech and idealistic politician March 3, 2010

LEFT-WING radical Michael Foot, leader of the Labour Party between 1980 and 1983, died in at his home in London earlier today at the age of 96.
A staunch republican (though actually well-liked by the Royal Family on a personal level) and proponent of an elected upper house, Foot had rejected honours from the Queen and the government, including a knighthood and a peerage, on more than one occasion.
Foot, an atheist, an honorary associate of the National Secular Society, and passionate supporter of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, was described in this report by Prime Minister Gordon Brown as:

A man of deep principle and passionate idealism and one of the most eloquent speakers Britain has ever heard. Michael Foot was a genuine British radical – one who possessed a powerful sense of community, a pride in our progressive past and faith in our country’s potential for a radical future.

Michael Foot pictured with Carol Naughton, Chair of CND, at the End the Occupation of Iraq Rally in London in 2003
Journalist Jon Snow, a friend of Foot, wrote:

Michael Foot was above all a romantic, an idealist, a scholar, a humanitarian and perhaps in the end quite simply too good for politics.
Foot believed in a better world for all. Unlike just about every other Labour leader he was never interested in money, accepted no political honours, did not go to the House of Lords, and did not bask in the political world of ‘when I was.
He was a decent and accomplished man. He was superb company, a fantastic gossip and married to a wonderful woman in Jill Craigie, the film director [who died in 1999]. They ran an almost open house of endless meals, drinks, conversation and walks with dogs on Hampstead Heath.
I feel fortunate to have known him as a friend. He lived a full life to the end, his body seeming to desert a still vibrant mind. History will eventually recall that he was a remarkable force for principle and morality in the unprincipled and immoral age in which he lived.

Above all, Foot was a passionate defender of free speech. His outspoken defence of Salman Rushdie during the Satanic Verses affair, earned him few friends in the Islamic world. Although Foot spoke during  the “End the Occupation of Iraq” rally in 2003, one Islamic website, which carried a picture of him, pointed out:

Please remember that Michael Foot is no friend of Muslims as was revealed during the Rushdie affair when he proclaimed that Islam was ‘the great persisting threat to the world’.

One of Britain’s finest writers and journalists, Foot retired from the House of Commons in 1992 and was the author of several books, including the highly regarded biography of H G Wells.

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  • Neuseline

    I was not fortunate enough to live in Michael Foot’s constituency. He would have had my vote every time as he spoke for me on every level. He leaves a gaping hole in British politics.

  • Brian Jordan

    So Winston Churchill and Michael Foot both saw Islam as a problem. Is there anyone left in the higher echelons of politics who does? If not, why not?

  • shargraves

    Great man. He will be missed.
    On a side note – bob hutton, that stupid little nasty bile spewing ignorant criminal, sent me an email pointing to his blog as he’d written another offensive article, this time concerning how Michael would be burning in hell.
    Truly, religion is the number one cause of evil in the world.

  • Broga

    Michael Foot – the best of the best. He had the inestimal virtue of being informed by a liberal education, deep knowledge of literature and principles and values based on this. He was a thinker. To me he was an exemplar of the socratic view that the unconsidered life is not worth living. What have we today? Politicians without principle or values and driven by whatever advantage appears.

  • Barry Duke

    @Shargraves. Yep, the pathetic little creep sent me the same email. In another era he’d be sharing Bedlam with fellow nutters suffering aggravated god complexes. He’s clearly wired to the moon.

  • Angela_K

    I saw Tony Benn last night who said of Michael Foot: “He said what he meant and meant what he said”. Something sadly lacking among today’s deceitful politicians.

  • Broga

    I don’t know who Bob Hutton is but I suppose he is a loathsome, scumbag, ignorant fundie. I guess the thing to remember is that these sick twats are ignorant, deeply, deeply ignorant. Know nothing, read nothing and piss people like me off by daring to critcise a gentlemen – in the best sense of the word – like Michael Foot.
    Hutton and his ilk are in hell already. The hell of ignorance, bigotry and terror of facing reality.

  • Barry Duke

    Broga, Bob Hutton is an evangelist based in Kent. He once plagued this blog with his incessant blathering until we barred him.
    We know little about the 50-something-year-old Hutton apart from the fact that one of this sad little cretin’s tricks is to insert biblical tracts into food packaging in supermarkets. He is a Baptist, a bigot and a rabid homophobe – in short, a classic Christian fundie entirely lacking in intelligence.

  • Broga —
    Bob Hutton also has a nasty habit of ‘blogstalking’ — leaving his droppings over members’ blogs here.
    And Michael Foot. Sad. One of ( probably the) last of his generation. His constituency was close to my home, so I saw him a few times at Newport station. He always amazed me how he kept going… he looked so unbelievably frail.

  • barriejohn

    I almost vomited yesterday at the sight of Neil Kinnock, of all people, wheedling himself onto practically every single news bulletin to eulogize Michael Foot, the “man of principle”! This surely cannot be the same Neil Kinnock who stood up at a Labour Conference – a LABOUR Conference – and said words to this effect: “What’s the point in having principles if you can’t get elected?“. Well, pardon me for breathing, but my view, and that of the late MF, I feel sure, would be: “What’s the point in getting elected if you can’t remain true to your principles?”!!

  • The nasty vile bigot pathetic-excuse-for-a-human-being Bob has been crawling and spewing his filth and screaming in capital letters that I “MUST repent”…the only thing I MUST do is delete his loathsome scribblings..
    Michael Foot will be sadly missed. There’s no politicians left with half of his decency, morals, ability, and integrity. All we’ve got left is soundbite-loving, expenses-stealing, non-dom crooks who are in it for the cash.

  • Broga

    Thanks Barry, Tim on Bob Hutton. If I had read my Freethinker earlier I needed have asked as there he is on page 7. Well, what a act, what a cariacture and what a Christian. I quote from Bob Hutton, “While I certainly do not approve of hatred or violence against gay perverts, the Bible is clear blah, blah blah…” Bit selective on the bible, as usual. This man must surely be mad – as in clinically insane. He seems also paranoid and obsessive and ready for sectioning. What kind of sad life must a nutter like that lead?
    Liked the Nietzche quote in the Freethinker article.
    PS Hutton really is a vicious little turd, isn’t he? Sneers at a man who kills himself in despair at the death of his mother.

  • NeoWolfe

    You Brits are rather a flip of the coin. In the US the republicans are the rich and religious. The far right wing. They don’t want to kill all the poor people, otherwise there would be no one to mow their lawn or clean their swimming pool. But, they damn sure don’t want to foot the bill if they get sick. So, to read that Mr. Foot was a staunch republican opens a new window to me, as I sit reading on my ignorant colonial ass.
    I think maybe there is more of interest to be learned about you crackers than King James, Henry the Eighth, Churchill, and Tony Blair. In seriousness, I am awaking to the realization of how little I know about our friends across the pond.

  • Broga

    @Barry Duke @ Tim Danaher Thanks for the information on Bob Hutton. I see that he also figures in The Freethinker, page 7, via his vile comments on Alexander McQueen. Hutton seems like a piece of low level excrescence. Can’t help wondering what kind of life this cariacture of humanity lives. Dig a little and people who are this obsessed in their pursuit of the vile and the cruel experience little joy and much misery.

  • barriejohn

    Your Republicans are right wing, NeoWolfe, whereas ours tend to be left wing! And don’t worry, most people over here know very little about YOUR political system either!!