Monday, July 17, 2006

Podcast 15: An Hour With Michael Foot

Three years ago I interviewed Michael Foot for an hour on the occasion of his ninetieth birthday. It was originally transmitted in July 2003 on Oneword. I've divided it into two podcasts. Part 1 can be downloaded HERE and Part 2 HERE.

Thinking back, I have to say I was rather dreading doing this interview. Michael had been quite ill and I was worried about how it would turn out. I needn't have. I couldn't shut him up. What was supposed to be a 30 minute programme turned into two hours of chat, which we eventuall condensed to an hour. Michael is very fifficult to interview. He doesn't actually look at you when he's talking to you so it's almost impossible to interrupt. A good lesson there next time I'm on with Mr Paxman!

Much of the interview is about his early life, meeting Jill Craigie, the war and nuclear disarmament. We also talk about his time as Labour leader and what he thinks of the current government.

Michael Foot is 93 this Sunday.

25 comments:

C4' said...

I would personal like to thank Mr. Foot for guiding the Conservatives to victory in the 1983 General Election.

Chuck Unsworth said...

I found it difficult to tolerate some of Foot's politics, but I always greatly admired his abilities, and the way he could cogently put his case.

It's such a pity that New Labour's cabal does not have anyone with such a grasp and talent.

Anonymous said...

I was going to say Foot must be turning in his grave with the conversion of former CND member Tony Blair's conversion to nuclear power and nuclear weapons!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this. Whatever people's views of Foot when he was active in the Labour Party (and who, in all honesty, envied him when he was party leader?) - he never gave the impression that he really wanted the job. He deserves credit and recognition. I'll be grateful if I hit 65, let alone 90...
PS: Although you are at heart a Tory, more cross-party views would be good.

Bob Piper said...

If c4 had 1/10th of the intelligence and integrity of Michael Foot he or she would be a lot better off.

Anonymous said...

bob piper (and, dear god, I'm entering a comment chain - how awful) - I agree! [that's as the previous anonymous]. Oh dear...

adam said...

The intonation in his voice makes him very difficult for me to listen to. Anyone else find the same?

Iain Dale said...

Adam, yes, his voice is somewhat erratic - but he's over 90!

adam said...

very true, if the rest of us even see the age of 90 we'll be very lucky, nevermind conducting political interviews still!

Guardian cub Reporter said...

A most fascnating interview, far more lucid in the second half, had you given him a few whiskies?
Thank you for putting it on the site, I enjoyed it.

phone cam foolery said...

Hate to lower the tone
(not like me)But I find it very difficult to find any time for a person who was prepared to turn a blind eye to the rape of his wife.
I dont care if he is 93 ,that fact alone gives you the measure of him.
I was going to use the word man, in this case it would be a misuse of the word.
That on top of his Marxist clap trap opinions ,now carried out by Emily Blair

Scarlatti said...

This takes me back to when The Lady and Michael Foot were leaders of their parties, when politics was more fun, because there was actually some genuine differences to argue about.

I recommend a fascinating book Foot wrote on Jonathan Swift called 'The Pen and the Sword'.

phone cam foolery said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Curly said...

I have to agree with Captain Pocock. the political scene back the was black and white, with no shades of grey. Perfectly polarized, take your choice, not like today wher we are fighting over the same patch of land that someone decided to call "the middle ground".

Foot's politics were as principled as Thatchers, he also had remarkably good delivery in the House at times, we should pray that a few more like him emerge over the next decade.

Andrew Kennedy said...

Last year I was lunching with friends at The Gay Hussar. Michael Foot arrived in a group of four and sat on the banquette directly next to me.

He was clearly in failing health, and by the way he had to grope for his wine and feel his way around the plate, I guess his eyesight had completely failed him.

However, in the few exchanged pleasantries between restaurant neighbours, I found him to be charming, erudite and totally unassuming.

His leadership of the Labour Party was probably the low-point of his career. I think it is a great shame that the image ingrained in the public conscious is of a bumbling old man in a donkey jacket.

Like anyone from the Right I had no time for his politics. However, he was a man of great principle and a true giant of the post war Socialist movement.

phone cam foolery said...

Andrew kennedy
yes you have to love a cretin who loved the soviet union and China
Where is the love for ex nazis?

Verity said...

"However, he was a man of great principle and a true giant of the post war Socialist movement."

He was a man of great insanity, as are all self-righteous, self-regarding socialist prats who managed not to notice the millions of deaths in the glorious cause of ...uh ... something. Just because he knows how to order from a French menu in a nice restaurant doesn't mean all those millions who died of starvation aren't dead.

Fewer "socialist giants", please.

Scarlatti said...

Alas, Michael Foot will be remembered for that TV clip of him getting into his car during the 1983 campaign, waving his walking stick, and shouting "We're on the way to victory".

Rather like the excellent clip of Silly Kinnock falling over on the beach.

(Apologies to Michael Foot for mentioning him in the same comment as Silly Kinnock.)

Geoff said...

With all due respect to Iain I detest this man and hold him in the lowest regard. His political views were laughable have rightly been condemned to the dustbin of history.

The marvellous thing is that because he is a leftie then when he dies the BBC website will have a feedback page on Don't Have Your Say called "Foot: Your Tributes". When anyone to the right of Heath (a fair few) passes away it is always "Fascist Dies: Your Reaction"

Privatise the BBC now, and let's also have less unworthy respect to failed politicians just because they have managed to grow old. So has my grandfather. He shot down German fighter planes and as far as I am concerned that makes him a much worthier person to listen to than this nutter who would have been happy to see the Hammer and Sickle over Buckingham Palace.

Anonymous said...

Phone cam foolery - I beg you to actually look at the facts insted of talking such bilge. Look at Tribune's editorial stance on the USSR from as early as 194, under his leadership.

You big twat.

Jackart said...

I'm afraid I agree with PhoneCamFoolery. A commitment to free speech doesn't absolve someone from continuing a love-affair with a creed which is demonstrably damaging to anything it touches.

Such Consistency looks like merely stubborn vanity masquerading as principle. Tony Benn likewise. They aren't great elder statesmen, they are silly old gits. Museum pieces. Please can we ignore them?

Anonymous said...

I agree with Capt. Pocock and Curly. I remember when you could be a good lefty and hardly know where the Middle East was.

Now it seems I have to take full responsiblity for Islamic fundamentalism, suicide bombers, FGM etc. etc.

Oh, well - serves me right, I guess, for being a TU and LP member for decades...

skipper said...

I interviewed Footie for the New Statesman back in 1997 and can confirm he is not the easiest. He tends not to look you in the eye and the unpredictable emphasis which made his public speeches sound so eccentric is poreesent in private conversations also so his sense of distance from you is suddenly bridged by a shout in your ear which can be disconcerting. But the scholarship and grace of the man shines through. Never PM material admittedly, but a genuine, original really nice guy.

Andrew Kennedy said...

Yadda yadda yadda.....

By all means comment on my words but not on your misinterpretation of them.

I said, quite clearly,

"Like anyone from the Right I had no time for his politics."

I do not see how that could be taken as sympathy for his pro Soviet views.

Yes, I did say,
" a true giant of the post war Socialist movement" and I stand by it. One doesn't have to agree with someones philosophy to recognise their contribution.

And yes, I also stand by "a man of great principle." Again, you don't have to agree with someones views to acknowledge their political integrity. I admire Foot for the same reasons as I admire Benn, Jospeph, Sherman, Thatcher, Grimmond and many others.

And finally, Verity, The Gay Hussar is Hungarian, not French. Perhaps if it was a provincial restaurant selling Roast Beef you may have heard of it.

C4' said...

If Rowdy Bobby Piper paid greater attention to history instead of insulting bloggers and ripping off local taxpayers, he would realise that Foot, Benn and co did as much to win the election for the Tories as the improving economy and the Falklands victory achieved for Thatcher.

Remember the longest suicide note in history? If Foot had had his way, this country would have been at the mercy of the Soviets.