Thursday, March 4, 2010

"Old Labour" Social-Democrat of Britian Dies at 96

Michael Foot was the leader of the British Labour Party who ran for Prime Minister in 1983, losing to Margaret Thatcher. He was the last Labour Party candidate for Prime Minister to advocate "workers control of the means of production." It was shortly after dropped from Labour Party politics when the "New Labourites" led by Tony Blair announced that socialism no longer meant workers control of the economy but referred to 'universal human values' and 'cooperation by all sectors of the economy.'

In the videos below, you can see that the key issue of his 1983 campaign was the demand for full employment, and that he attended the "Workers March for Jobs" while on the campaign trail.

Wikipedia also notes that he was the editor of a left-wing newspaper, staffed members of the Communist Party of Great Britian, Socialist League, and the Independent Labour League. It also notes that he resigned in 1938 in protest of the class collaborationist policies then championed by the USSR and called the "Popular Front" and sometimes "Browderism."

(Note: This should not be considered an endorsement of the late Mr. Foot's politics. I find that many of his political positions, particularly on international issues were quite repugnant. I am merely highlighting this bit of British Marxist history. I also find it interesting that a major candidate for Prime Minister in Britain attended a "worker's march for jobs."

Also note, one video below makes reference to the "Brixton Riots" featured in many songs by the well known British Punk Band, The Clash.

Former Labour leader Michael Foot dies aged 96
Wednesday 03 March 2010
by Paddy McGuffin

Michael Foot, the former Labour Party leader and founding member of CND, has died at the age of 96.

Mr Foot, who led the Labour Party from 1980-3, was held in great affection as a passionate and highly intelligent orator and parliamentarian and a man of strong principle.

Regarded as one of the greatest political speakers of his generation, Mr Foot employed sharp wit to great effect - once famously describing Tory chairman Norman Tebbit as a "semi-house-trained polecat."

He fought the 1983 election on a radical manifesto in the face of demonisation and derision from the right-wing media and suffered defeat at the hands of the Thatcher government.

His death sparked tributes from across trade unionists and campaigners.

Veteran Labour figure Tony Benn described Mr Foot as "a great credit to the labour movement."

Former London mayor Ken Livingstone said: "He was the nicest person I ever met at a senior level in politics. He had time for everybody."

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber praised Mr Foot, a former employment secretary, as "a man who personified decency and integrity in politics."

And CND chairwoman Kate Hudson said she was greatly saddened by the news.

She condemned the "dirty tricks" used against Mr Foot during the 1983 campaign, saying his principled belief in nuclear disarmament was now shared by the majority of the British public - "a fact that our politicians would do well to recognise as they head into a general election," she said.

"We send our deepest sympathy to Michael's family and friends."

Mr Foot died shortly before 7am on Wednesday at his home in Hampstead.

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