In 2010, Michael Foot, the British Prime Minister that declared Unilateral Nuclear Disarment (UND) died in Hampstead, London on this day aged 96.
What the Labour Party is all aboutBorn in Plymouth in 1913, he studied at Oxford University before taking a job as a shipping clerk in Liverpool; his experiences of poverty in that city transformed him into a life-long socialist.
Foot joined the Labour Party and first stood for parliament at the age of 22 in the 1935 general election, when he contested Monmouth. During this election Foot criticised the Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, for seeking rearmament. In his election address Foot contended that "the armaments race in Europe must be stopped now". He also supported unilateral disarmament, after multilateral disarmament talks at Geneva had broken down in 1933. He was thrown out of the Parliamentary Labour Party for two years because he opposed increases in defence spending.
"Michael Foot led Britain during the grimmest, darkest hour in its modern history" ~ Neil KinnockElected in 1945 he did not enter the front bench of the Labour Party until the Wilson and Callaghan Governments of the nineteen seventies. Upon assuming the leadership in 1980, he led the party into the successful campaign of 1983 in which he defeated Margaret Thatcher who was still reeling from Britain's military humiliation in the Falkland Islands. That event, coupled with Americas escalation of the Cold War created a new consensus for UND. And what began with mother's protests at Greenham Common, and Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) peace rallies led by Foot and Monsignor Bruce Kent flourished into a popular movement. Soon enough, Britain would play a very different role on the world stage, paving for the way for his successor Bryan Gould, and Princess Diane to achieve an international ban on land mines in 1999.
Colleague Tony Benn paid tribute to Foot's legacy saying that "he was what the Labour Party was all about"