Page last updated at 13:57 GMT, Wednesday, 3 March 2010

In quotes: Michael Foot in his own words

Former Labour leader Michael Foot has died at the age of 96. Renowned for his passionate and erudite speeches, he was also a prolific journalist and writer. Here is a selection of some of his most memorable quotations.

Is the Labour Party to remain a democratic party in which the right of free criticism and free debate is not merely tolerated but encouraged? Or are the rank and file of the party to be bludgeoned or cowed into an uncritical subservience towards the leadership?" Writing in Tribune, 1954.

"Socialism without public ownership is nothing but a fantastic apology." Writing in the Daily Herald, 1956.

A Britain which denounced the insanity of the nuclear strategy would be in a position to direct its influence at the United Nations and in the world at large, in a manner at present denied us." Newspaper article, 1960.

"A Royal Commission is a broody hen sitting on a china egg." Speech in the House of Commons, 1964.

"He was without any rival whatever, the first comic genius who ever installed himself in Downing Street." Description of Disraeli in his book Debts Of Honour.

"Men of power have not time to read; yet men who do not read are unfit for power." In his book Debts Of Honour.

"The national strike of the miners in 1972 performed, I believe, a great service, not only to the miners, but the people in Britain today who wanted coal." House of Commons, 1974.

"People must learn more and more that the strength of this country is the democratic power of the trade union movement." Article in the Morning Star, 1974.

"I have been on the Left of the party since I joined it in about 1934 and I have not seen much reason for altering." Panorama TV interview, 1976.

"If the freedom of the people in this country had been left to the good sense and fair-mindedness of the judges, we would have had few freedoms in this country at all." Article in Daily Telegraph, 1977.

"There is nothing wrong with being a Marxist. Their point of view is essential to a democratic debate." Daily Telegraph, 1977

"What is needed is a strong shift leftwards. This party in Parliament ought to start the process, and if it won't, the party conference will do it for them." Article in Tribune, 1979.

"In my opinion, Marxism is a great creed of human liberation. It is the creed which says that when all other empires fade and vanish, our business is to enlarge the empire of the human mind." At a Morning Star rally in 1980.

"Most liberties have been won by people who broke the law." Interview in 1980.

"She has no imagination and that means no compassion." On Margaret Thatcher, 1981.

"I can well understand the anxieties and pressures that must have been upon you during this weeks and I can understand that, at this moment, these pressures and these anxieties may be relieved and I congratulate you." To Margaret Thatcher after the retaking of the Falklands in 1982.

"It is not necessary that every time he rises he should give his famous imitation of a semi-house-trained polecat." To Norman Tebbit, 1978.

"We had not the armour, the strength, the quickness in manoeuvre, yes, the leadership." Explaining Labour's 1983 election defeat in his book Another Heart And Other Pulses, 1984.

"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." On his departure from the House of Commons, 1992.

"No rising hope on the political scene who offered his service to Labour when I happened to be leader can be dismissed as an opportunist." On Tony Blair, Independent, 1995.

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