Page last updated at 14:36 GMT, Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Michael Foot death ends political dynasty in Plymouth

Michael Foot
Michael Foot was elected in 1945 as Clement Atlee was swept to power

Former Labour leader Michael Foot has died, aged 96.

His death at his home in London after a long period of ill health marks the end of a political dynasty in the West Country.

He was born in 1913 into a famous Liberal family and was educated at Plymouth College Prep School.

He later moved with his family to Callington in Cornwall when his father, Isaac, a leading Plymouth solicitor, became Liberal MP for Bodmin.

Michael Foot
The future Labour leader fought for cash to rebuild Blitz-hit Plymouth

Michael was the youngest, and most famous, of four sons who all became national figures.

Hugh Foot, later Lord Caradon, was a former permanent British representative at the United Nations.

The late Sir Dingle Foot was a Liberal MP and later a Labour minister, and Lord Foot, a former parliamentary candidate, sat as a Liberal peer.

But it was Michael Foot who first broke the Liberal tradition, something his parents found particularly galling.

However, his mother sent him the peace offering of a homemade Cornish pasty to celebrate his election as an MP in Plymouth in 1945.

Mr Foot's niece, Sarah Burbury from Saltash, Cornwall said: "He thought that was absolutely wonderful.

"He was devoted to his mother, so everything was made all right."

During the Plymouth campaign, which brought Clement Attlee's Labour Party to power, he met his future wife Jill Craigie, who was making a film in the city.

'Up Argyle'

As MP for Plymouth he fought for cash to rebuild the blitzed centre of the city.

Plymouth Devonport MP Alison Seabeck told BBC News: "He was an extraordinary man and man of great integrity.

It was his passion for absolutely everything he was involved in that struck me
Alison Seabeck, MP

"He cared passionately about Devonport when he was an MP here and people do still have a soft spot for him."

She remembers him also as a man with a great sense of humour.

"I went to have lunch with him in London and I wanted to get a memento and asked him to sign a photo.

"With a twinkle in his eye he said 'Can I have it back?'

"In the other corner he wrote Up Argyle. That was so indicative of the man.

"He had a lovely sense of humour but I think it was his passion for absolutely everything he was involved in that struck me."

Tributes have been posted on Twitter, with one person calling him a "socialist Titan".

Another wrote: "A Plymouth legend, a REAL Labour man, and a truly fine politician."

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Michael Foot's passion for Argyle
03 Mar 10 |  Devon


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