Mr. Michael Foot is one of the six candidates standing for election to succeed Mr.?
Mr. Michael Foot is one of the six candidates standing for election to succeed Mr. Harold Wilson as leader of the British Labour Party, and therefore as Prime Minister. He is regarded as the most likely of the two candidates on the left of the party (the other is Mr. Anthony Wedgwood Benn) to do well in the first ballot next Thursday, and is probably the second favourite at the moment to the front-runner, the Foreign Secretary, Mr. James Callaghan.
Mr. Foot is 62 -- older than the retiring Prime Minister. All the other candidates, except Mr. Callaghan, are under 60. Mr. Foot comes from a well-known British west-country Liberal family, and is the younger brother of Lord Caradon, the former British representative at the United Nations.
He broke with the family's Liberal tradition and turned Socialist at Oxford University, where he was President of the Union (the leading debating society) in 1933. After leaving the university, he became a journalist -- first with the left-wing weekly paper Tribune. Then, in 1942, Lord Beaverbrook, the independent but far from left-wing proprietor of a newspaper group, made him editor of the London Evening Standard. Later, he returned to Tribune, as editor and managing director.
Mr. Foot first entered Parliament as Labour member for one of the Plymouth seats in 1945; lost it again ten years later; and was elected for the Welsh mining constituency of Ebbw Vale in 1960, which he has held ever since. This was an unusual achievement for one who was not a Welshman; but he had succeeded to the mantle of the late Aneurin Bevan, the leader of the left in the 1940s and 1950s, and took over the seat on Bevan's death. He also wrote a biography of Bevan.
He made a reputation as a fiery orator and public protester. He was often seen heading orderly demonstrations, such as the Aldermaston marches against nuclear weapons. He is a popular broadcaster and television personality. He was an outspoken opponent of Britain's becoming a member of the European Economic Community. Film includes and extract from one of his speeches to a mass rally against Common Market membership, held in Trafalgar Square in London: