Sunday 4 December 2016

From passionate Labour leader to 'lame duck'

Published 04/03/2010 | 05:00

Michael Foot, the Labour Party leader, pictured in 1981, brought many talents to British public life
Michael Foot, the Labour Party leader, pictured in 1981, brought many talents to British public life

MICHAEL FOOT (96) was a Labour Party leader who never became British prime minister, but this failure could not eclipse the array of talents he brought to British public life.

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He was one of the last of the great political orators, a skilful parliamentary manager, a pamphleteer of wit and passion, a prolific author, an editor, a critic, a bibliophile, a man whose life and career were shaped largely by three of his heroes, but who himself became a hero to many. He was, above all, the best-loved socialist of his time.

Yet, for a period, he was also the most derided. Winning the Labour leadership in 1980, which should have provided his greatest triumphs, became the occasion for his most memorable disasters. He stumbled and broke his ankle almost at the moment he, surprisingly, defeated Denis Healey and this proved all too accurate an augury for what lay ahead. He proved a lame-duck leader.

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