Michael Foot died earlier this week. Foot was the leader of Britain’s Labour Party from 1980-1983. He was an “Old Labour” guy — a supporter of unilateral nuclear disarmament and state ownership of major industries. Nonetheless, Foot represented a compromise choice to lead his party because he was to the right of Tony Benn and others. And Foot did support, without apparent hesitation, the Falklands War.
Under Foot’s leadership, Labour ran against Margaret Thatcher’s Tory party on a platform that embraced disarmament, nationalization of the banks, higher taxes, abolition of the House of Lords, and withdrawal from the European Economic Community. The platform was dubbed “the longest suicide note in history.” The Obamacare legislation may soon supplant it for this honor.
Labour was crushed and Foot resigned as its leader.
My interest in Foot stems from his connection with Everton. After graduating from Oxford, where he converted to socialism, Foot migrated to Liverpool and took a job as a shipping clerk. Impressed by Goodison Park and the “scientific” style of football played there by the home team, Foot soon became an Everton supporter.
In 1935, Foot published a poetic tribute to Everton in the Liverpool Daily post, following Everton’s exit from the FA Cup at the hands of Bolton. It’s hardly great poetry, but I love the shots Foot takes at our cross-park rivals. Note also the religious references:
When at Thy call my weary feet I turn
The gates of paradise are opened wide
At Goodison I know a man can learn
Rapture more rich than Anfield can provide.
In Coulter’s skill and Geldard’s subtle speed
I see displayed in all its matchless bounty
The power of which the heavens decreed
The fall of Sunderland and Derby County.
The hands of Sagar, Dixie’s priceless head
Made smooth the path to Wembley till that day
When Bolton came. Now hopes are fled
And all is sunk in bottomless dismay.
And so I watch with heart and temper cool
God’s lesser breed of men at Liverpool.
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