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Tony Benn
(Politics)
Neil Kinnock
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Harold Wilson
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Denis Healey
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James Callaghan
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(Military)
David Owen
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Michael Foot

Knowledge Identifier: +Michael_Foot

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Michael Foot

British Labour Party politician and man of letters add

Category: Politics

Born in 1913.

Countries: United Kingdom (77%), India (6%), (4%)

Education: undef.

Main connections: Tony Benn, Neil Kinnock, Harold Wilson

Linked to: European Economic Community, Labour Party, Liberal Party, House of Commons of the United Kingdom

 

Timeline


 

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Michael Foot was born in 1913 add something


1923

Wadham College, Oxford - Cecil Day-Lewis, later Poet-Laureate, came up in 1923, and Michael Foot M.P. in 1931


1934

On graduating in 1934, he took a job as a shipping clerk in Birkenhead add something


1937

Foot became a journalist, working briefly on the "New Statesman", before joining the left-wing weekly "Tribune" when it was set up in early 1937 to support the Unity Campaign, an attempt to secure an anti-fascist United Front between Labour and the parties to its left add something


1938

Foot resigned in 1938 after the paper's first editor, William Mellor, was fired for refusing to adopt a new CP policy of backing a Popular Front, including non-socialist parties, against fascism and appeasement add something


1940

In 1940, under the pen-name "Cato" he and two other Beaverbrook journalists published "Guilty Men", a Left Book Club book attacking the appeasement policy of the Chamberlain government that became a run-away best-seller add something

 

Peter Howard (journalist) - In 1940 he worked with fellow Beaverbrook journalists Michael Foot and Frank Owen to write "Guilty Men", a political polemic about appeasement and the politicians behind it


1942

Beaverbrook made Foot editor of the "Evening Standard" in 1942 at the age of 28 add something

 

Jon Kimche - In the early war years he contributed articles on military strategy to the "Evening Standard", and in 1942, on the recommendation of Michael Foot, was hired by Aneurin Bevan as "de facto" editor of the left-wing weekly "Tribune"


1945

Foot fought the Plymouth Devonport constituency in the 1945 general election add something

 

Foot left the "Standard" in 1945 to join the "Daily Herald" as a columnist add something

 

He was a Member of Parliament from 1945 to 1955 and from 1960 until 1992 add something

 

The party failed to master the medium of television, while Foot addressed public meetings around the country, and made some radio broadcasts, in the same manner as Clement Attlee in 1945 add something

 

James Callaghan - Michael Foot and Ian Mikardo remained of the 1945 intake, but Michael Foot had been out of the House from 1955 to 1960 and Mikardo from 1959 to 1964

 

Quintin Hogg, Baron Hailsham of St Marylebone - Hogg's 1945 book "The Left was Never Right" was a fierce response to two books in Victor Gollancz's 'Victory Books' series, "Guilty Men" by Frank Owen and Michael Foot and "Your M.P." by Tom Wintringham, both published during the war and largely discrediting Tory M.P.s as appeasers and war profiteers


1946

Philip Noel-Baker, Baron Noel-Baker - He was prominent within Labour, serving as Chairman of the Labour Party in 1946-7, but lost his place on the National Executive Committee in 1948 and his place was taken by Michael Foot


1948

He rejoined "Tribune" as editor from 1948 to 1952, and was again the paper's editor from 1955 to 1960 add something


1950

Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament - Foot was however a critic of the West's handling of the Korean War, an opponent of West German rearmament in the early 1950s and a founder member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament add something


1955

He won the seat for Labour for the first time, holding it until his surprise defeat by Dame Joan Vickers at the 1955 general election add something

 

In a 1955 interview, Foot ideologically identified as a libertarian socialist add something


1956

Under his editorship, "Tribune" opposed both the British government's Suez adventure and the Soviet crushing of the Hungarian Revolution in 1956 add something


1957

Until 1957, he was the most prominent ally of Aneurin Bevan, who had taken Cripps's place as leader of the Labour left, though Foot and Bevan fell out after Bevan renounced unilateral nuclear disarmament at the 1957 Labour Party conference add something


1960

Foot returned to parliament in 1960 at a by-election in Ebbw Vale in Monmouthshire, left vacant by Bevan's death add something


1961

He had the Labour whip withdrawn in March 1961 after rebelling against the Labour leadership over air force estimates add something


1963

Foot suffered from asthma until 1963 and eczema until middle age add something

 

He only returned to the Parliamentary Labour Group in 1963 when Harold Wilson became Labour leader after the sudden death of Hugh Gaitskell add something

 

In October 1963 he was involved in a car crash, suffering pierced lungs, broken ribs, and a broken left leg add something


1967

In 1967, Foot challenged James Callaghan but failed to win the post of Treasurer of the Labour Party add something


1968

Vietnam War - He opposed the government's moves to restrict immigration, join the Common Market and reform the trade unions, was against the Vietnam War and Rhodesia's unilateral declaration of independence, and denounced the Soviet suppression of "socialism with a human face" in Czechoslovakia in 1968 add something


1970

After 1970, Labour moved to the left and Wilson came to an accommodation with Foot add something

 

Roy Jenkins - Jenkins was subsequently elected to the deputy leadership of the Labour Party in July 1970, defeating future Labour Leader Michael Foot and former Leader of the Commons Fred Peart at the first ballot


1971

Martin Gilbert - Michael Foot, reviewing a volume of Gilbert's Churchill biography in "The New Statesman" in 1971 praised his meticulous scholarship and wrote, "Whoever made the decision to make Martin Gilbert Churchill's biographer deserves a vote of thanks from the nation


1972

In April 1972, he stood for the Deputy Leadership of the party, along with Edward Short and Anthony Crosland add something

 

David Owen - He first quit as Labour's spokesman on defence in 1972 in protest at the Labour leader Harold Wilson's attitude to the EEC; he left the Labour Shadow cabinet over the same issue later; and over unilateral disarmament in November 1980 when Michael Foot became Labour leader


1974

His first Cabinet appointment was as Employment secretary under Harold Wilson in 1974, and later served as Leader of the House of Commons under James Callaghan add something

 

When, in 1974, Labour returned to office under Harold Wilson, Foot became Secretary of State for Employment add something

 

During the war Foot made a speech that was later featured during "The World at War" documentary TV series broadcast in February 1974 add something


1975

Foot was one of the mainstays of the "no" campaign in the 1975 referendum on British membership of the European Economic Community add something

 

In 1975, Foot, along with Jennie Lee and others, courted controversy when they supported Indira Gandhi, the Prime Minister of India, after she prompted the declaration of a state of emergency add something


1976

He was deputy leader of the Labour Party from 1976 to 1980, and later became the Leader of the Opposition from 1980 to 1983 add something

 

In 1976, Foot became blind in one eye following an attack of shingles add something

 

When Wilson retired in 1976, Foot contested the party leadership and led in the first ballot, but was ultimately defeated by James Callaghan add something

 

Eric Heffer - Despite Heffer's friendship with Tony Benn, he voted for Michael Foot in the Labour leadership election of 1976

 

Roy Jenkins - Jenkins was a candidate for the leadership of the Labour Party in March 1976, but came third out of the six candidates, behind Callaghan and Michael Foot


1979

Following Labour's 1979 general election defeat by Margaret Thatcher, James Callaghan remained party leader for the next 18 months before he resigned add something

 

Labour Party (UK) - After its defeat in the 1979 election the Labour Party underwent a period of internal rivalry between the left-wing, represented by Michael Foot and Tony Benn, and the right-wing represented by Denis Healey

 

David Owen - However, 18 months after Labour lost power in 1979, the staunchly left-wing politician Michael Foot was elected party leader, despite vocal opposition from Labour Party moderates , sparking a crisis over the party's future


1980

Gerald Kaufman, once Harold Wilson's press officer and during the 1980s prominent on the Labour right, described the 1983 Labour manifesto as "the longest suicide note in history" add something

 

The Tory government's controversial monetarist policy against inflation had increased unemployment and sent Britain into recession earlier in 1980 add something

 

Foot was elected Labour leader on 4 November 1980, beating Denis Healey in the second round of the leadership election add something

 

David Owen - Michael Foot's election as Labour party leader indicated that the party was likely to become more left-wing, and in 1980 committed itself to withdrawing from the EEC without even a referendum

 

Tom Ellis (politician) - Ellis' disenchantment with the Labour Party was so great that he probably voted for Michael Foot over Denis Healey in Labour's 1980 leadership election in order to accelerate the disintegration of the Labour Party

 

Neil Kinnock - He remained as Education spokesman following the resignation of Callaghan as party leader and the election of Michael Foot as his successor in late 1980

 

Tony Benn - In a keynote speech to the Labour Party Conference of 1980, shortly before the resignation of party leader James Callaghan and election of Michael Foot as successor, Benn outlined what he envisaged the next Labour Government would do

 

Labour Party (UK) - The election of Michael Foot as leader in 1980 led in 1981 to four former cabinet ministers from the right of the Labour Party forming the Social Democratic Party


1981

For most of 1981 and early 1982 its opinion poll ratings suggested that it could at least overtake Labour and possibly win a general election add something

 

In early 1981, four senior Labour right-wingers left Labour to form the Social Democratic Party add something

 

The double-digit lead which had still been intact in opinion polls at the start of 1981 was swiftly wiped out, and by the end of October the opinion polls were showing the Alliance ahead of Labour add something

 

The right-wing newspapers nevertheless lambasted him consistently for what they saw as his bohemian eccentricity, attacking him for wearing what they described as a "donkey jacket" at the wreath-laying ceremony at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Day in November 1981, for which he was likened to an "out-of-work navvy" by a fellow Labour MP. Foot did not make it generally known that HM the Queen Mother had complimented him on it; he later donated the garment to the People's History Museum in Manchester add something

 

Reg Freeson - He remained on the Labour front bench in opposition, as spokesman on health and social security, but was demoted by Michael Foot in 1981

 

Tony Benn - In 1981, he stood against incumbent Denis Healey for Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, disregarding the appeal from Michael Foot to either stand for the leadership or abstain from inflaming the party's divisions

 

Kenneth Woolmer, Baron Woolmer of Leeds - Leader of the Opposition Michael Foot promoted Woolmer to the front bench as junior spokesman on trade, prices and consumer protection from November 1981; it was noted that he was not a left-winger in Labour Party terms

 

Eric Heffer - In December 1981 he attempted to solve the problem of Michael Foot's denunciation of Peter Tatchell by holding a quick enquiry, but this attempt failed when Foot loyalists passed a motion to refuse Tatchell endorsement

 

Stan Cohen (politician) - Labour Party leader Michael Foot persuaded him to remain in the Labour Party and not defect at a meeting on 3 December 1981


1982

Foot struggled to make an impact and was widely criticised for his ineffectiveness, though his performances in the Commons, most notably on the Falklands war of 1982, won him widespread respect from other parliamentarians add something

 

It was looking certain that the Tories would be re-elected, and the only key issue that the media were still speculating by the end of 1982 was whether it would be Labour or the Alliance who formed the next opposition add something

 

Through late 1982 and early 1983, there was constant speculation that Labour MPs would replace Foot with Healey as leader add something

 

Labour briefly regained their lead of most opinion polls in early 1982, but when the Falklands conflict ended on 14 June 1982 with a British victory over Argentina, opinion polls showed the Tories firmly in the lead add something

 

Eric Varley - He served as opposition spokesman on employment, and resisted an attempt by Michael Foot to replace him with Neil Kinnock in 1982

 

Tony Blair - In contrast to his later centrism, Blair made it clear in a letter he wrote to Labour leader Michael Foot in July 1982, that he had "come to Socialism through Marxism" and considered himself on the left.

 

Jack Dormand - In November 1982, amidst rumours that a majority of Labour MPs wanted to replace party leader Michael Foot, Dormand gave a radio interview insisting that "I have absolutely no doubt whatever that the vast majority think that Michael Foot is the man for the job at the moment, and will take us into the next general election"


1983

A passionate orator, he was Labour leader at the 1983 general election when the party obtained its lowest share of the vote since 1918 add something

 

A passionate orator, he was Labour leader at the 1983 general election when the party obtained its lowest share of the vote since 1918 add something

 

Critically, Labour held on in a subsequent by-election in Darlington and Foot remained leader for the 1983 general election add something

 

Foot took a back seat in Labour politics after 1983 and retired from the House of Commons at the 1992 general election, when Labour lost to the Tories for the fourth election in succession, but remained politically active add something

 

Such speculation increased after Labour lost the 1983 Bermondsey by-election, in which Peter Tatchell was its candidate, standing against a Tory, a Liberal and the right wing John O'Grady, who had declared himself the "real" Labour candidate and fought an openly homophobic campaign against Tatchell add something

 

The 1983 Labour manifesto, strongly socialist in tone, advocated unilateral nuclear disarmament, higher personal taxation and a return to a more interventionist industrial policy add something

 

The "Daily Mirror" was the only major newspaper to back Foot and Labour at the 1983 general election, urging its readers to vote Labour and "Stop the waste of our nation, for your job your children and your future" in response to the mass unemployment that had resulted from Conservative prime minister Margaret Thatcher's monetarist economic policies to reduce inflation add something

 

Conservative Party (UK) - Thatcher now faced, arguably, her most serious rival yet after the 1983 election, when Michael Foot resigned as Labour leader and was succeeded by Neil Kinnock

 

Neil Kinnock - After Labour's heavy election defeat in June 1983, the almost 70-year-old Michael Foot resigned as leader and from the outset it was expected that Kinnock would succeed him

 

Tony Benn - In the period since Benn's defeat in Bristol, Michael Foot had stepped down after the general election in June 1983 and was succeeded in October of that year by Neil Kinnock


1984

After Foot's election as leader, opinion polls showed a double-digit lead for Labour, boosting his hopes of becoming prime minister in the next general election, which had to be held by May 1984 add something


1985

Foot in an interview with the author in 1985 Foot joined the Labour Party and first stood for parliament at the age of 22 in the 1935 general election, when he contested Monmouth add something

 

Oleg Gordievsky, a high-ranking KGB officer who defected from the Soviet Union to Britain in 1985, made allegations against Foot in his 1995 memoirs add something


1986

In 1986, Foot was the subject of one of the best-known newspaper headlines of all time add something


1987

From 1987 to 1992, he was the oldest sitting British MP add something


1988

He was elected in 1988 a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature add something


1992

In a February 1992 interview, Gordievsky had claimed that he had no further Labour Party revelations to make add something


1995

Oleg Gordievsky - In 1995 the former British Labour Party leader Michael Foot received an out of court settlement from "The Sunday Times" after the newspaper alleged, in articles derived from claims in the original manuscript of Gordievsky's book "Next Stop Execution" , that Foot was a KGB "agent of influence" with the codename 'Boot'


2002

Foot was portrayed by Patrick Godfrey in the 2002 BBC production of Ian Curteis' long unproduced "The Falklands Play" and by Michael Pennington in the film "The Iron Lady" add something


2006

On 23 July 2006, his 93rd birthday, Michael Foot became the longest-lived leader of a major British political party, passing Lord Callaghan's record of 92 years, 364 days add something


2007

In February 2007, it was revealed that Foot engaged in an extramarital affair with a black woman around 35 years his junior in the early 1970s add something

 

The affair is detailed in Foot's official biography, published in March 2007 add something


2010

However, in the "Daily Telegraph" in 2010 Charles Moore gave a "full account", which he claimed had been provided to him by Gordievsky shortly after Foot's death, of the extent of Foot's alleged KGB involvement add something


Michael Foot died in 2010 add something

 

Foot died at his Hampstead, North London home in the morning of 3 March 2010 add something

 

Foot's funeral was a non-religious service, held on 15 March 2010 at Golders Green Crematorium in North West London add something

 

Jo Brand - Brand introduced and spoke at the celebration of Michael Foot's life at the Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, on 8 November 2010


2011

It was suggested in 2011 that he became a member of the secret Auxiliary Units add something


2016

A memorial to Foot in Plymouth was vandalised in the wake of the 2016 United Kingdom European Union membership referendum in July 2016 add something

 

A memorial to Foot in Plymouth was vandalised in the wake of the 2016 United Kingdom European Union membership referendum in July 2016 add something