The Plastic Hippo

March 3, 2010

A good man has passed

Filed under: Politics — theplastichippo @ 11:29 pm

At the age of 96, some may say that Michael Foot had a decent innings. He did, but not just in terms of longevity. Possibly the last of a generation of politicians who put substance before style and oratory before the sound bite, young pretenders like Cameron, Clegg and the Milibands would be mistaken to airbrush him out of history.

In the early 80`s, when Labour in opposition nearly disappeared after the gang of four and militant tendency factions almost made the party irrelevant, Foot steadied the ship and paved the way for Kinnock, John Smith, Blair and Brown. The 1983 election manifesto was described by Gerald Kaufman as “the longest suicide note in history”, but the manifesto proposed the nationalisation of banks, government intervention in failing industries and unilateral nuclear disarmament. That was nearly 30 ago.

Not exactly photogenic, the old, long-haired bohemian will forever be Worzel Gummidge to the right wing press and his choice of coat at the remembrance service in 1981 caused a Labour MP to say that his leader “looked like an out-of-work Irish navvy.” In these days of trough snuffling MP`s, that could be now considered as something of a compliment and in no way detrimental to our friends across the water.

A founder member of CND and an unlikely ally of Enoch Powell in plans to reform the House of Lords, Foot was never one to give up on a lost cause. At 90, he became the oldest registered “player” in the Football League and was presented with a number 90 shirt by his beloved Plymouth Argyle. He never gave up on socialism, on justice, on freedom or the Labour Party. This next generation of 30 something suits should take a look at what a real politician looks like.


1 Comment »

  1. This is the first non professional obit I’ve read that hasn’t portrayed him as a failure, laid the blame for the ’83 election result at his feet, made him out as prinicipled but ultimately incompetent. I agree that he can be blamed for laying the ground for the New Labour project but that’s with hindsight and the same hindsight shows me that the alternative was quite possibly no Labour party at all.

    In a specch during the ’83 election he said:

    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. This 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.

    You won’t hear that or anything like it said, much less meant in this coming election campaign.

    Comment by Sabcat Printing — March 4, 2010 @ 4:00 pm | Reply

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