Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Talk about the Passion

Here is the tribute Gordon paid to Michael Foot today. Very typical of Gordon to mention Michael's passion for Plymouth Argyle; he could be talking about his own obsession with Raith Rovers! I really wish I'd been in Parliament at the same time as Michael Foot, to hear one of the great orators in action. I've been listening to some of his speeches tonight - funny, idealistic, and above all absolutely passionate about his politics.

"Michael Foot was a man of deep principle and passionate idealism and one of the most eloquent speakers Britain has ever heard. He was an indomitable figure who always stood up for his beliefs and whether people agreed with him or not they admired his character and his steadfastness.

The respect he earned over a long life of service means that across our country today people, no matter their political views, will mourn the passing of a great and compassionate man. All his life, Michael campaigned and fought for the ideals he believed in. I remember fondly my time with him and Jill Craigie, the love of his life - they both inspired me with their passion and kindness. They leave behind so many people whose grief overwhelms us today.

While Michael was a brilliant thinker – a first rate journalist and a celebrated biographer – he always knew that for the people and causes he had entered politics to represent, the Commons was not simply a forum for debate but the theatre of change.

As Leader of the Labour Party in the most difficult circumstances he was a respected and unifying figure who sought to steer it through turbulent times. And his record as a Labour minister and champion of working men and women will always be a tribute to his convictions and a source of pride - leading through Parliament the Health and Safety at Work Act .

He served the communities of Plymouth and Ebbw Vale with distinction. But Michael wasn't just a great parliamentarian - a historian, a journalist and an author, he showed the same skill as one of the youngest editors of a national newspaper in his twenties as he did when writing articles and books well into his nineties.

A founder member of CND, he is often remembered for being a self-proclaimed "inveterate peace-monger" although his determination to break the rise of Fascism in Europe in the 1940s was demonstrated in his hugely influential book, "Guilty Men".

A lifelong Plymouth Argyle fan who continued attending Home Park well into his 90s, his love of his football club mirrored his love of the labour party: sticking by the Pilgrims through thick and thin, no one could ever doubt his loyalty and determination to see them reach the summit of success.

We will never forget his good humour, his passion and above all his enduring values and determination to fight for them - as, one of his favourite poets, Shelley proclaims "Ye are many — they are few."

Michael Foot was a genuine British radical - one who possessed a powerful sense of community, a pride in our progressive past and faith in our country's potential for a radical future."

1 comment:

The Filthy Engineer said...

My father, when confronted with one wealthy left wing toff or another, is wont to observe that “they can afford to be socialists”. Now I’ve always liked this little aphorism since I rather “get it” – socialism is founded on a great mound of patronising hypocrisy. And where better than the silver spoon chewing classes to find both those traits!

The posh leftie is a sort – we’ve all met them and marvelled at their ability to propose the regime of St Francis for the masses of ordinary middle class folk while enjoying their homes overlooking Hampstead Heath, the swanky parties with the luvvies and Summers at the villa in some warm part of Southern Europe.

It’s important for us to remember that, for all their vaunted intelligence, their charm and their wit, these rich socialists are takers not builders. They lecture us on the moral rightness of state control or the absolute need for higher duties on alcohol or the banning of smoking from pubs they never go into – and they do this from atop a monumental pile of cash earned in wicked capitalist ways by their forefathers.

These people have never had to find a mortgage payment, have never wondered how they were going to get the cash to pay for the school uniform, have never been made redundant and wouldn’t know the first thing about starting a business from scratch. Yet they take it upon themselves to lecture me about greed, or about poverty or public services.

Michael Foot was, I’m sure, a charming and delightful man who gave great pleasure to those who knew him. I'm sure he professed strong principles. But he was, to me, just another rich, posh socialist. Another man whose chosen mission was to hold forth on socialism to less clever, less lucky folk while clutching hypocritically onto a glorious upper middle class lifestyle funded entirely from the proceeds of capitalism. We can recall his speaking – which was good. His thoughtfulness. His public service. We can catalogue all his writing, all his good works. But let’s never forget that…

…he could afford to be a socialist.