Michael Foot one of the most iconic British politicians of the last century and the man who is largely remembered for leading the Labour Party to electoral catostrophe against Margaret Thatcher in 1983, has died. Speaking candidly I can say that on a political level Foot espoused almost everything I despise and I believe he would have been a disaster for the country had he defeated Thatcher in 1983, having said that on a personal level I can say that I admired his conviction and principles greatly. I have always admired anyone with a political conviction, whatever it may be, and have said on many occasions that I would rather debate with a staunch socialist than someone who “can’t be bothered” with politics. He was a man who stood up for what he believed in and despite the media ridicule he endured, Foot was above all else a very humble man – a fact which left him uncomfortable and unprepared for the harsh reality of life on the frontbench.
The truth is that Michael Foot was unsuited for front line politics, he was far more at home and at his best on the backbenches where he could speak his mind, rather than as leader where he was hemmed around by official policy lines which he was compelled to adhere to. His catastrophic electoral defeat of 1983 still serves as his political epitaph but I believe that this fails to take in to account a lifetime of principle and service – principle which led him to decline a life peerage and seat in the House of Lords and was not just confined to his socialist politics. Indeed Michael Foots principle extended beyond party policy in the sense that he wasn’t afraid to cross party lines and support opponents if he felt it was for the good of the nation. For example he was heavily criticised by the left for supporting the Falklands campaign, which helped regain some of Mrs Thatcher’s falling popularity ahead of the 1983 General Election, but in doing so he once again put his principles above personal or political considerations. That is how I will remember him; as a skilled and principled political opponent but an opponent none the less.