Most liberties have been won by people who broke the law – Michael Foot, 1980
At the height of World War Two in 1942, Michael Foot, then acting editor of the Evening Standard, gave a passionate defense of freedom of the press after the Churchill government tried to censor the Daily Mirror. Foot chided his own government by likening its encroachment on press freedom to Hitler’s territorial expansion:
Appreciation by Michael White at The Guardian:
Michael Foot, the most improbable literary romantic to lead a major British party since Benjamin Disraeli, has died at the age of 96 after a turbulent political career that left him a much-loved but also deeply controversial figure. Though physically frail he displayed his customary zest for life until close to the end.
Born a year before the outbreak of the first world war, Foot’s career could be traced through many of the horrors and triumphs of the bloody 20th century, while simultaneously harking back to literary and political conflicts long forgotten by most of those whose votes he sought through nearly 60 years of elective politics. Never a communist, always a leftwing socialist and scourge of fascism, in all his battles he was rarely less than wholly committed to causes for which he cared. After his death was announced at midday today Gordon Brown led the deluge of tributes from both friends and political foes.
“Michael Foot was a man of deep principle and passionate idealism and one of the most eloquent speakers Britain has ever heard. He was an indomitable figure who always stood up for his beliefs and whether people agreed with him or not they admired his character and his steadfastness,” the prime minister said in a statement.
Praise from the hollow men of contemporary British politics: