Page last updated at 14:45 GMT, Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Reaction and tributes after Michael Foot's death

Obituary of Michael Foot: Scroll down page for PM's questions in full

By Justin Parkinson and Emma Griffiths


1541 We're wrapping up our extended live coverage of the day's events but the tributes to Michael Foot continue to arrive - including one from TUC general secretary Brendan Barber, who described him as "a great employment secretary at a time when the economy was under real pressure" and Labour MP Ann Clwyd who remembered Mr Foot's kindness when she was a young aspiring politician in Wales. We will be back on Friday for our next live event coverage - when Gordon Brown appears before the Iraq Inquiry.

1532 Among other politicians remembering Mr Foot in the corridors of the Houses of Parliament today is former home secretary John Reid. He told the BBC Mr Foot was "a lovely man" and "in a sense among the last of the great orators before the television age". Former Liberal leader Lord Steel also paid tribute to Mr Foot's "spellbinding" oratory skill: "When his name came up on the ticker tape people would go in to hear him, now that doesn't happen very often for many people."

Michael Foot
"I think the House of Lords ought to be abolished and I don't think the best way for me to abolish it is to go there myself" - Michael Foot on his departure from the Commons in 1992 Read more of Mr Foot's quotes.

1458 Lord Mandelson remembered first meeting Mr Foot in the early 1980s when the now business secretary worked for former Labour minister Albert Booth: "It was there that I first discovered the stresses and strains that fall on anyone leading Labour, especially at that time in the 1980s," he said. Describing Mr Foot as "one of Labour's favourite sons", he added: "Michael was one of the giants on whose shoulders today's generation of Labour politicians stand."

1451 BBC chief political correspondent Laura Kuenssberg said some of the people paying tributes had noted their disagreements with Mr Foot but said they had admired him. He was not somebody who was seen as a calculating politician acting for his own advantage, but as someone who acted on his strong beliefs, she said.

1448
Nick Clegg
And Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has added his own tributes, describing Mr Foot as a "great parliamentarian, a great intellectual and a great idealist"."His intellectual integrity is an example to everyone in politics," he said.

1442
David Cameron
Conservative leader David Cameron has been speaking to the BBC about Mr Foot. He said although they came from "very different political persuasions", the former Labour leader was a great defender of Parliamentary democracy and was "in politics because he loved his country". "I think he will be remembered as a great speaker, a fantastic orator, a beautiful writer," he added.

Michael Foot on the campaign trail in 1955


1419 Tony Blair's former communications chief Alastair Campbell has paid tribute to Mr Foot as a "lovely man" on his blog. "On the Old-New Labour-ometer, fair to say that Michael might be placed closer to the old than the new. But he was a phenomenal support. He took as much pride in the three election wins under Tony Blair as anyone and was delighted to celebrate his 90th birthday in 2003 at a party in Downing Street," he wrote.

1413 Campaigner Peter Tatchell said he had had disagreements with Mr Foot but admired him as "one of the most outstanding British socialists and democrats of the 20th Century". "Sadly, Michael became Labour leader too late in life. He was at his peak in the 1940s and 1950s, and would have been an even better Labour Prime Minister than Clement Attlee," he said.

1408 More tributes from Wales, where Mr Foot was MP for Ebbw Vale and Blaenau Gwent. Welsh Labour leader and First Minister Carwyn Jones said: "This is obviously desperately sad news. We have lost a real political giant today."

1357
Gordon Brown
Mr Brown is outside 10 Downing Street along with his deputy, Harriet Harman. He tells the BBC he heard about Mr Foot's death this morning and goes on to pay personal tribute to the former Labour leader. Mr Brown says Mr Foot was "good, compassionate and dedicated to his country" and a "great unifier".

1354
e-mail sent in by reader
"He was an honest man who found himself in a rapidly changing politically world where image is more important than principle." Read more of your comments about Michael Foot.

1350
tweet
In a Twitter post, the Foreign Secretary David Miliband remembers a chance meeting with Mr Foot: "Michael Foot led a remarkable life. I remember meeting him on the Tube in the 80s. For a famous speaker he really listened."

1344 Labour veteran Dennis Skinner tells the BBC News channel Mr Foot was "a very honest man, very straight, the only one I can recall in all the years of the Labour Party who never took any honour - he never went into the Lords". Mr Skinner added the former Labour leader was "straight as a die".

1339
Gordon Brown
A full statement has come through from the prime minister about Mr Foot. In it, Mr Brown also described the former Labour leader as "an indomitable figure who always stood up for his beliefs" and earned people's respect. "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."

1329
Labour veteran Tony Benn, who stood against Denis Healey for deputy leadership of the party in 1981, told the BBC Mr Foot had been a "brilliant journalist", a socialist and said people would feel a "genuine sense of loss" at his death.


1327 Peter Jones, a friend of Michael Foot's, says he was "passionate" about football and his support for Plymouth Argyle. Mr Foot - who was on Plymouth's board of directors for many years - went to his first football match in 1923. "It was in his bones," Mr Jones tells BBC Radio 5 live.

1322 Praise for Michael Foot continues to flood in from across the political spectrum. Plaid Cymru leader Ieun Wyn Jones - Wales's deputy first minister - says he learnt much from the former Labour leader, who he described as "a great devolutionist". "His passing is a loss to the political culture of Wales," he added.

Gordon Brown
1318 Prime Minister Gordon Brown calls Mr Foot a "man of deep principle and passionate idealism".

1317 A personal reminiscence from Foreign Secretary David Miliband: "Michael Foot led a remarkable life. I remember meeting him on the Tube in the '80s; for a famous speaker he really listened."

1315 Labour MP and former Home Secretary David Blunkett says: "In many ways, his time as leader of the Labour Party allowed his opponents to diminish the enormous stature which his life-long contribution to the well-being of his fellow man enabled him to achieve."

1313 Labour's former London mayor Ken Livingstone tells Sky News: "He was the nicest person I ever met at a senior level in politics. He had time for everybody. It is amazing that someone that nice gets to the top of the Labour Party but perhaps not too surprising that someone that nice didn't win the election."

1309 Labour Party general secretary Ray Collins pays tribute to Mr Foot's skills as author and journalist, saying: "As well as pivotal biographies, Labour Party members will remember the clarity and passion of his writing against the appeasement of the 1930s, nuclear weapons, or apartheid and in support of social justice."

1305 Lord Healey, who was defeated for the Labour leadership by Mr Foot in 1980 then served as his deputy leader until 1983, says he is "very, very sorry to hear of his death". He says: "I was a great admirer of Michael's. He was a brilliant speaker. Although we disagreed very much over policy, I was very glad to serve under him as deputy leader."

1302 Peter Jones, a friend of Michael Foot's, says he was "passionate" about football and his support for Plymouth Argyle. Mr Foot - who was on Plymouth's board of directors for many years - went to his first football match in 1923. "It was in his bones," Mr Jones tells 5Live.

David Cameron
1300 Conservative leader David Cameron tells Talksport: "He was a very intelligent, witty, amusing and thoughtful man. Obviously it is very sad news that he died today. He had an extraordinary life but they will be mourning the death of a remarkable man."

1257 Veteran Labour MP Dennis Skinner says Mr Foot was "very straight" with people and kept his promise not to take any honours, such as a peerage.

1254 Further praise for Michael Foot. Justice Secretary Jack Straw tells the Commons he once made a speech which "suggested to me that he had a line into the Almighty".

1248 The former SDP leader and former Labour Foreign Secretary, Lord Owen, says that Michael Foot was a "great speaker". Former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott says: "A great man has died."

1243 Nick Robinson says Michael Foot put "some real magic" into his speeches. Michael Gove adds that he was a "great writer" and "committed to ideas".

1241 Tessa Jowell tells the Daily Politics that Michael Foot was "never held responsible" for the 1983 election disaster. The party was "riven" through no fault of his, she adds.

Michael Gove
1239 Conservative Michael Gove says Mr Foot "transcended" party politics, foreseeing the threats posed by fascism ahead of the Second World War. He had a "visionary notion of what politics could achieve", he adds.

Nick Robinson
1238 BBC political editor Nick Robinson calls Mr Foot one of the "giants" of post-war politics. Despite his lack of success as Labour leader, taking the party to a landslide defeat in 1983, there was "huge affection" for him, even from those who disagreed with him.

1237 Labour's Tessa Jowell says Michael Foot was "loved" by the party.

Michael Foot
1235 Some sad news. Former Labour leader Michael Foot has died at the age of 96.

The full session of PM's questions: From Democracy Live

1234 Ms Harman says the Tories should back the proposal that cancer patients can see an oncologist within a week. That ends prime minister's questions for this week. The Speaker again tells MPs to be quiet, as many leave the chamber.

Mike Sergeant
1234 From BBC political correspondent Mike Sergeant: Lots of sound and fury from Harman about the Ashcroft affair - but Hague will feel pretty satisfied with the encounter. The nature of the clash made it very hard for anyone to land a blow on the shadow Foreign secretary - particularly after Harman got off to rather a shaky start. MPs loved the (undiplomatic) joke from Cable about Zuma and polygamy. Labour and the Lib Dems really think there is more mileage in the Ashcroft saga. It dominated the three-way battle, but will it really explode as a national political issue? The Tories might be feeling a fraction more confident after Hague's performance today.

1233 Ashcroft again. Labour's Jim Sheridan asks if the government has been contacted by the Electoral Commission about "buying" UK constituencies. Ms Harman makes a point that the government is "not for sale".

1231 Ms Harman says the government will not re-introduce a married man's tax allowance. It sends a message to children of divorced families that "there's something wrong with you", she adds.

1229 Tory David Heathcoat-Amory says the government should apologise for selling the UK's gold reserves at a low price. Ms Harman does not.

1228 Ms Harman does not hear a question from Labour's Phil Wilson. It is about Lord Ashcroft's donations to the Conservatives. Ms Harman says a parliamentary bill is not retrospective but this does not relieve the peer of his need to pay taxes.

1226 Labour's Betty Williams asks whether the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act was inadequate and will be reviewed. She says she has been a victim of an attack by a dog. Ms Harman says discussions are under way to make sure they are controlled.

1225 Labour veteran Sir Gerald Kaufman asks about the Falklands war and says it had to be fought because the Tory government cut patrols beforehand. He asks the government to maintain its loyalty to the Falklands. Ms Harman says there is "no question" they will be defended.

Mike Sergeant
1224 From BBC political correspondent Mike Sergeant: An awkward opening to the session for Harriet Harman. She would have loved to have been asking the questions today - particularly as William Hague played such a key role in securing a peerage for Lord Ashcroft. But her slip calling him the "foreign secretary" gave Hague an open goal and put her on the back foot for a while. Thereafter, the Commons leader struggled to pin him down. Leading off on Afghanistan and the economy gave Hague the opportunity to play it cool and work in the pre-scripted lines. But Harman and Labour certainly won't let the Ashcroft affair go.

Vince Cable
1222 For the Lib Dems, Vince Cable pays a "very warm welcome to Jacob Zuma", asking about his advocacy of polygamy, wondering what role married tax allowances might have with him. He claims Lord Ashcroft avoided around £100m of tax while serving in Parliament, asking when the requirement for him to be a "permanent" UK resident was done away with. Ms Harman says there are "answers" to be given by the Conservatives.

1219 Ms Harman turns her fire on shadow chancellor George Osborne, calling him inexperienced. She then goes back to the Ashcroft issue, saying either the peer himself should quit as Conservative deputy chairman or Mr Hague should resign as shadow foreign secretary. That was the liveliest leaders' - or deputies' - exchange in some time.

1217 Ms Harman reacts furiously, saying Mr Hague has no credibility. Mr Bercow tells Labour MPs not to get over-excited. Mr Hague says the prime minister should ask the Queen to dissolve Parliament, to be "rid of this disastrous government once and for all".

1216 Mr Hague asks whether a weak currency arises from a weak economy, in turn coming from a weak government. What does this say about recent falls in the value of sterling, he asks. Ms Harman returns once again to the Lord Ashcroft situation. The Speaker tells her to stick to matters of government responsibility.

1213 Mr Hague jokes about the selection of Ms Harman's husband Jack Dromey as a Labour candidate, saying he came top of an all-female shortlist. Ms Harman says the question is "not about one man in the House of Commons but one man in the House of Lords". The atmosphere in the chamber is very lively indeed. This is gloves-off, personal stuff.

1212 On to the economy, Mr Hague asks why UK bonds are classed by the markets as twice as risky as those of Pepsi or McDonald's. Speaker John Bercow warns MPs against "yah-boo" behaviour. Moving on to the Lord Ashcroft story, Ms Harman questions Mr Hague's "future" in his job. She says the country has been "misled". Mr Bercow says the session must be about issues affecting the government. But Mr Hague says: "People in glass houses should not throw stones".

1209 Mr Hague says Mr Brown must "recognise" his "error" when he faces the Iraq inquiry on Friday. Ms Harman says it is "fatuous" to ask her to suggest what the prime minister will say at his appearance.

William Hague
1208 For the Conservatives, William Hague pays tribute to soldiers killed this week in Afghanistan. He says the prime minister made a "mistake" in cutting the helicopter budget when troops were in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ms Harman says the government is fully committed to equipping the armed forces.

1206 After an easy question from Labour's Andy Reed, Ms Harman says the government will help economic development in the regions.

1204 Ms Harman also sends her condolences to the people of Chile, which suffered a huge earthquake at the weekend. Asked about the decline of manufacturing by a Tory MP, she says it is "typical of the Conservatives talking the country down".

Harriet Harman
1202 Harriet Harman, standing in for Gordon Brown, is on her feet. She pays tribute to five British soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

1201 Not long to go. BBC political editor Nick Robinson tells Daily Politics that someone from the Labour or Lib Dem benches is likely to mention Lord Ashcroft in an effort to embarrass Mr Hague.

Mike Sergeant
1154 From BBC political correspondent Mike Sergeant: With anticipation building for the TV election debates, today its back to the raucous Commons version of a three-way battle. But, with Brown out greeting Zuma, we won't see the candidates for PM locking horns today. Clegg and Cameron are rested. Hague and Cable to face Harman. In the light of the revelations about Tory donor Lord Ashcroft's tax status, that raises some interesting possibilities. The Labour Party wants to keep the Ashcroft row going by any means possible. Of course, Harriet Harman will be answering the questions not probing the Tories (though she's likely to attach a barb or two to her replies). Vince Cable could try to frame an attack on both the big parties and their non-dom Lords - but remember the Lib Dems have also taken money from non-doms. It's the 10th time Gordon Brown has missed PMQs - roughly double the number Blair missed over a similar period. Harman has a mixed record against Hague - once scoring a memorable victory. Could this be the last time we see this particular duel?

1152 Giving his expert analysis today is the BBC's Mike Sergeant. And, courtesy of BBC Two's Daily Politics, shadow schools secretary Michael Gove and Cabinet Office minister Tessa Jowell, will offer their opinions.

Jacob Zuma
1150 Hello and welcome to our live coverage of prime minister's questions. One difference this week: there will be no prime minister, or Tory or Lib Dem leaders. South African President Jacob Zuma (right) is in London for a state visit and Gordon Brown is otherwise detained. This means Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman, shadow foreign secretary William Hague and Lib Dem deputy leader Vince Cable are in the hot seats.





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