A COUNCILLOR has recalled the “amazing courage” of former Labour leader Michael Foot, who died last week.
And he has also relived the frightening clashes between hunt supporters and protestors in Holmfirth.
Clr David Williams was the party’s Colne Valley candidate during the 1983 election.
He recalled Mr Foot’s visit to Holmfirth during the campaign – when he was surrounded by protestors angry at his plan to outlaw fox hunting.
Clr Williams said: “Like thousands of other socialists I was saddened to hear of the death of Michael Foot.
“He was one of the great orators of the 20th century.
“ I witnessed him make many inspirational speeches and saw him do many brave things.
“My enduring memory of him was when he came to support me when I stood as the Labour candidate in the Colne Valley and the way he stood up to the hunting lobby who held their national day of action on the day of his visit during the 1983 general election.
“Fifteen Labour party members faced 2,000 baying hunt supporters in Holmfirth as his car arrived in the town’s car park.
“Photographers from all the national daily papers were there as were the TV but I begged him not to get out of the car as the pro-hunting mob were out for blood.
“They had smashed up the memorial gardens where Michael was to plant a cherry tree to commemorate a peace activist.
“He said: ‘No! They must not win,’ got out of the car, marched across the car park with only me and a few Labour members between him and the thousands of crazed huntsmen.
“He stopped outside a chemist and used his stick to point to a notice in the window saying ‘New Prescription Charges’.
“Bemused, the hunt lobby stopped and a strange silence prevailed for a few seconds.
“ Michael launched into ‘That’s what this election is about – the destruction of the NHS.’
“‘Quite right’ shouted some local pensioners.
“Then all hell broke loose with placards flying through the air and cries of ‘let the dogs at him’.
The police dived in to rescue Michael and he was stuffed into a police car.
“I jumped onto a wall by Leo’s supermarket and started to shout out a speech.
“Their anger turned on me and the police car sped off.
“I ended up making a run for it as they started to throw things.
“Michael’s courage was amazing and he managed to turn what could have been a PR disaster into an opportunity to get a central message home.”
Clr Williams, who is now a Green Party member of Oxford City Council, concluded: “If only we had such people in the Labour party today, I would never have left.”
Mr Foot, who led the Labour party from 1980 to 1983, died on Wednesday aged 96.