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Michael Foot Obituary

Michael Foot Obituary

4 March 2010

Michael Foot 1913 – 2010

It is with great sadness that we received the news of the death of Michael Foot, ex leader of the Labour Party and great friend to the People’s History Museum.

Michael was a trustee of the museum since 1986 and was involved in the negotiations which saw its transfer from London to Manchester.  He fully supported its establishment in the North West and regularly travelled to trustees meetings in Manchester.  Until 2006, he regularly attended trustees meetings in London, travelling by bus from his home in Hampstead.

Michael’s papers came to the Labour History Archive and Study Centre in 1992 and form a fascinating collection covering the whole of his life as a statesman; from anti-appeasement Beaverbrook newspaper editor, through to left wing backbencher MP, government minister during the period of the 1970s Social Contract, to the leader of the Labour Party in the troubled period 1980-1983.  In 2003 on the occasion of his 90th birthday he donated the famous ‘donkey jacket’ worn on Remembrance Sunday, 1981, which became an icon of this period.  Ironically, the coat was bought at Harrods and he was complimented on it by the Queen Mother before the ceremony.  It and other artefacts he owned are on display in the new galleries at the museum, opened weeks before his death.  Michael became known to many museum staff and visitors giving a series of popular and packed lectures over the years.  These included Thomas Paine – the first 200 years (1991), The 50th anniversary of the Labour Government (1995), Nye Bevan (1993), Labour’s Centenary (2000) and Lord Byron (2003).

Michael’s likable and always positive manner charmed most people that he met, whether discussing current politics or the varied fortunes of his beloved Plymouth Argyle Football Club.  Knowing such giants of the world including HG Wells, Ernest Hemingway, Pandit Nehru and Willy Brandt (to say nothing of the Labour Party) to meet him was to experience a living labour history lesson.  We shall all mourn his passing.