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Monday, March 29, 2021

A Labour leader with intellect and passion who advocated defence, patriotism and peace

Michael Foot's reply to Margaret Thatcher in the emergency House of Commons' Falkland Islands debate in April 1982 was the speech of a statesman, delivered with passion, wit and intellect. Its assault on the Thatcher Government’s signal failure to deliver on the first responsibility of any government, that of protecting its people, ought to have made a mockery of the Conservatives’ vaunted defence credentials. It was delivered by a Labour leader who believed in conventional military deterrence and who rhetorically asked why Margaret Thatcher seemingly didn’t, in practise. The previous Labour Government, of which Foot was a very senior member, had mobilised a flotilla in advance of an Argentinian threat, thereby successfully preventing the possibility of invasion. Given the current Conservative Government‘s announcement of a large defence expenditure expansion amidst economic retrenchment, when the Con-Dem Government had previously recklessly slashed defence spending and left the UK without an aircraft carrier for many years, it would be wise to once again question the credentials of a Conservative Government on defence. Foot of course could reach back to his own assaults on another Conservative Government being soft on defence and on fascism (I use the word advisedly) in the latter 1930s. Sad that this great man should have been so pilloried and so parodied to the detriment of appreciating the power of his reason and his rhetoric. Sad that after the moronic disdain for defence shown by the last Labour leader we don’t have one now who's able to rip apart the Tories’ pretensions as the ‘patriotic party’. To hear Foot's speech click on this link

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