Michael Foot: key quotes

Memorable quotations from the former Labour leader, who has died aged 96

On nuclear weapons

A Britain which denounced the insanity of the nuclear strategy would be in a position to direct its influence at the United Nations and in the world at large, in a manner at present denied us. (1960)

On Aneurin Bevan

The only man I knew who could make a curse sound like a caress. (Aneurin Bevan, Vol 1, 1962)

On the Profumo scandal

The members of our secret service have apparently spent so much time under the bed looking for communists that they haven't had the time to look in the bed. (1963)

On royal commissions

A broody hen sitting on a china egg. (1964)

On Lords reform

Think of it! A second chamber selected by whips. A seraglio of eunuchs. (Feb 1969)

On Tory leaders

Disraeli was my favourite Tory. He was an adventurer pure and simple, or impure and complex. I'm glad to say Gladstone got the better of him. (March 1975)

On Marxism

There is nothing wrong with being a Marxist. Their point of view is essential to a democratic debate. (Daily Telegraph, 1977)

On Norman Tebbit

It is not necessary that every time he rises he should give his famous imitation of a semi-trained polecat. (March 1978)

On David Steel, Leader of the Liberal party

He's passed from rising hope to elder statesman without any intervening period whatsoever. (March 1979)

On protest

Most liberties have been won by people who broke the law. (Interview, 1980)

On Margaret Thatcher

She has no imagination and that means no compassion. (1981)

On Labour's 1983 election defeat

[Explaining Labour's 1983 election defeat when he was leader.] We had not the armour, the strength, the quickness in manoeuvre, yes, the leadership. (Another Heart and Other Pulses, 1984)

On John Major

It's quite a change to have a prime minister who hasn't got any political ideas at all. (February 1991)

On Tony Blair

No rising hope on the political scene who offered his services to Labour when I happened to be its leader can be dismissed as an opportunist. (February 1995)


Richard Nelsson

The GuardianTramp

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