Was Foot a National Treasure or the KGB’s Useful Idiot?

From the Telegraph:

Why did the former Labour leader take money from Moscow for years, asks Charles Moore .
We have a habit in this country of turning certain people into “national treasures”. If they go on long enough, and have enough charm, we tend to forget what we once disliked about them. This has happened to Tony Benn, who was once routinely depicted by cartoonists as wearing jackboots. It has come perilously close to happening to Ian Paisley. It happened to Michael Foot, who died this week.

Like all dear old “characters”, Foot had his props – the thick spectacles, the knobbly walking stick, his dog Dizzy, and that hotly debated garment worn at the Cenotaph. He had an eccentric way of speaking, which involved shouting at the end of sentences. And there were all those books he’d read: “And still they gazed and still the wonder grew/ That one small head could carry all he knew.”

In death, Foot’s reviews were immensely favourable. He had a “mighty heart”, said The Guardian. He was “a genuinely good man”, said The Times. Yes, he had been useless as leader of the Labour Party, but somehow, for most of the media, that hardly seemed to matter.

There are, indeed, reasons to have fond memories of Michael Foot. He was personally kind and generous. He was eloquent, and often funny. During the 1983 election, I reported his progress – or rather, regress – round the country. One night, at an enormous rally in Plymouth, he mocked the entire Cabinet just by reading out their names, without comment (“And then there’s Mr Norman Fowler!”). It was hilarious – all in the timing and tone. As a journalist, I feel privileged to have observed him and met him.

[Read more at the Telegraph]

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