I am very saddened by the news that Michael Foot has passed away today. He was the leader of the Labour Party during the early part of my political career and I was once fortunate enough to share a platform with him during my time as a Councillor in Barnet in the early 1980s.
Though Michael Foot was our leader during what was the most turbulent period in Labour Party history, he has always been a popular and well-regarded member of the party, as the tributes from across the political divide today have shown. Throughout his long political career he remained true to his convictions and was an outstanding parliamentarian. His speeches in the chamber during his time as leader are revered as some of the best in post-war British Politics, even by Conservatives and his political enemies. Michael Foot was also a journalist and prolific writer, who had managed to rise to the heady heights of editor of the Evening Standard at the age of twenty-eight. This was before he began his political career which started when he was first elected to the House of Commons in 1945 and lasted until his stepping down as an MP in 1992. During this time he served as a member of both the Wilson and Callaghan governments, as Employment Secretary, Leader of the House of Commons, and Deputy Prime Minister, before becoming party leader in 1980.
He was an intelligent, thoughtful and charming individual, who cared passionately about the Labour party and British people. He will be sorely missed.