Decidedly, it’s a week for sad news. Yesterday former Labour Leader and great man of letters, Michael Foot, passed away at the ripe old age of 96. I had the privilege of meeting and interviewing ‘Footie’ (as Neil affectionately called him) when I was researching my biography of Kinnock. I was warmly received at Foot’s Hampstead house and, once I’d made friends with Dizzie the dog (after Disraeli, of course), he took me up to his study and spent the best part of two hours with me. Like Napolitano, Foot was a historical figure and, indeed, when I think about it, the two have much in common; anti-fascism and great passions for parliamentarianism and literature. About half way through my interview with Foot we were talking about the SDP breakaway. ‘I had them all there – Williams, Rogers, Jenkins,’ he said, pointing animatedly to the sofa I was sitting on. It soon became clear that most of the Labour front bench over the past twenty years or more had sat on that very sofa, seeking advice, making confessions or declarations. I wonder what will happen to it now? As I said goodbye his wife, Jill, made a brief but beautiful appearance. Foot was monstrously ill-treated by the British media. He would have been a towering figure in any other century. As it was, he made an indelible impression on the political and cultural life of his country.
Leave a Reply