Michael Foot, author and Labour leader, was born in 1913, son of the Liberal MP Isaac Foot. During the 1930s Foot worked on various newspapers. In 1940 he and others wrote the polemical book Guilty Men which castigated the appeasers for allowing the country to drift unprepared into war. For many years Foot worked upon the left-wing weekly newspaper, Tribune, becoming Assistant Editor, 1937, Editor, 1948-52 and 1956-9 and Managing Director, 1945-1974.
In 1935 Foot unsuccessfully stood for Monmouth, ten years later he became the Labour MP for Davenport, losing the seat in 1955. Foot was a devout Bevanite, supporting Nye Bevan in his 1950s battles against Gaitskill. Like Bevan, Foot was a skilled orator firmly attached to left-wing causes such as unilateralism. When Bevan died in 1960 Foot inherited his seat at Ebbw Vale (the seat was renamed Blaenau Gwent in 1983). Foot held this seat until 1992.
Initially Foot appeared destined to be a backbencher. However his prospects changed with the Party's shift to the Left during the 1970s. Harold Wilson made him Secretary for Employment in 1974 and the resulting Employment Protection Act, 1975 pleased the Unions but laid the ground for the increased militancy of the late 1970s. In 1976 Callaghan moved Foot to the role of Leader of the Commons. He was therefore in a good position to succeed as leader of the Labour Party when Callaghan retired in 1980.
Michael Foot won the leadership of the election narrowly. Internal strife and the Party's march leftwards marred his period of leadership. The loss of thirty moderate Labour MPs to the new Social Democratic Party in 1981-2 and the Falklands war, which helped to sustain the Tory recovery, further hampered Foot.
The Labour Party 1983 manifesto, an avowedly left-wing programme, described by a colleague as the longest suicide note in history, produced Labour's worst election result in forty years. Shortly afterwards, once Neil Kinnock's leadership was assured, Michael Foot stood down. Since then Foot has devoted more time to his historical and literary works, including studies of Jonathan Swift and H.G.Wells.