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Quirks of History: Michael Foot Campaigns with Tony Blair – Video

Michael Foot and Tony Blair campaigning together in 1982
Michael Foot and Tony Blair campaigning together in 1982

In 1982 Tony Blair was put up as the Labour Party candidate to contest the safe Conservative seat of Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire following the death of Sir Ronald Bell MP. Watch now as the spring-heeled, smiley faced young tyro Blair wanders the constituency with mad-red-eyed wolf of the left (and party leader) Michael Foot.

You should also note that, as Michael Foot points out in the video below, Blair had joined the party under Foot’s leadership.

Also fascinating is the voice-over quote regarding the selection of Blair. Bear in mind that you are looking at the heady days of 1982 when, apparently Labour was Redder than a Deggsy Hatton’s face as he chased a vote.

Blair is chosen to appeal to hardcore Conservative voters. Selected by a Foot-lead Labour Party. As the voice-over quotes:

“Tony Blair’s press secretary says that he’s exactly the kind of young man that any Beaconsfield mother would be happy to welcome as her daughter’s escort to the Young Conservative dance.”

The result of the by-election? Tony Blair was beaten by the Conservative candidate, ahem, Tim Smith, and also by Liberal candidate Paul Tyler. In fact, “Labour’s vote was nearly halved from 20.2% in 1979, down to 10.4%, and Blair lost his deposit as his vote was below the 12.5% threshold.”12

Denis Healey loyal as the day is 23 hours long.
Denis Healey loyal as the day is 23 hours long.

Also worth a note is Foot’s statement that, “Nobody who joined the Labour Party when I was leader can be accused of being a Careerist [chuckle].”

Oh, before you go, given the current clustervote for the Labour leader and deputy leadership, it’s also worth remembering what Foot’s own deputy leader, Denis Healey said about him years after he stood by him from 1980 until the 1983 election loss to Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative party.

As you can see, in politics loyalty sometimes has a statute of limitations. Makes you wonder why Healey stood as Deputy for quite so long? We’ll look at that another time.

“He wasn’t good as a party leader on television. He was a very good romantic leader on television. But in an election people are choosing a Prime Minister [chuckles].”

Now you enjoy the footage (sorry) and then get back to Labour’s current self-immolation as everybody forgets what the hell “Labour is a broad church of the Left” means.


1House of Commons Public Information Office Factsheet no 16 – Statistical Digest of By-election Results in the 1979 – 1983 Parliament -rev ed Nov 1983.
2Wikipedia – Beaconsfield by-election, 1982

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