The death of Michael Foot yesterday caused a brief cessation in pre-election hostilities as politics paid tribute to a life so sharply at odds with the spin-dried and airbrushed posturing of the modern era.
His leadership of Labour will for ever be associated with the division and discord of the early 1980s — not to mention the “donkey jacket” he famously once wore at the Cenotaph — that culminated with the party’s worst performance in a post-war general election.
Such a picture, however, belies the genuine warmth and admiration felt across all parties towards this idealistic, unashamedly intellectual and even romantic figure, who died at home in Hampstead at the age of 96.
Gordon Brown said: “Whether people agreed with him or not, they admired his character and his steadfastness. The respect he earned over a long life of service means that across our country today people, no matter their political views, will mourn the passing of a great and compassionate man.”