Denis Healey

Knowledge Identifier: +Denis_Healey


Denis Healey

Retired British Labour politician, who served as Secretary of State for Defence from 1964 to 1970 and Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1974 to 1979 add

Category: Politics

Born in 1917.

Countries: United Kingdom (80%), (9%), United States (4%)

Main connections: Tony Benn, Michael Foot, Secretary of State for Defence

Linked to: Secretary of State for Defence, Labour Party, Leeds East, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party




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Denis Healey was born in 1917 add something


"'Denis Winston Healey, Baron Healey"' CH, MBE, PC, MC is a retired British Labour politician, who served as Secretary of State for Defence from 1964 to 1970 and Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1974 to 1979 add something


In 1936 he won an exhibition to Balliol College, Oxford, to read Greats where he was involved in Labour politics, although he was not active in the Oxford Union Society add something


At Oxford Healey joined the Communist Party in 1937 during the Great Terror but left in 1940 after the fall of France add something


Edward Heath - In his final year Heath was President of Balliol College Junior Common Room, an office held in subsequent years by his near-contemporaries Denis Healey and Roy Jenkins, and as such was invited to support the Master of Balliol Alexander Lindsay, who stood as an anti-appeasement 'Independent Progressive' candidate against the official Conservative candidate, Quintin Hogg, in the Oxford by-election, 1938


Healey achieved a double first for his degree, awarded in 1940 add something


Still in uniform, Healey gave a strongly left-wing speech to the Labour Party conference in 1945, shortly before the general election in which he narrowly failed to win the Conservative-held seat of Pudsey and Otley, doubling the Labour vote but losing by 1,651 votes add something


Healey married Edna May Edmunds on 21 December 1945; she died on 21 July 2010, aged 92 add something


From 1948 to 1960 he was a councillor of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, and of the International Institute for Strategic Studies from 1958 until 1961 add something


He supported the moderate side in the Labour Party during the series of 1950s splits add something


Healey was elected to the House of Commons as MP for Leeds East at a by-election in February 1952 with a majority of 7,000 votes, after the incumbent MP Major James Milner left the Commons to accept a peerage add something


He was a member of the Fabian Society executive from 1954 until 1961 add something


He was a supporter and friend of Hugh Gaitskell and, when Gaitskell died in 1963, he was horrified at the idea of Gaitskell's volatile deputy, George Brown, leading Labour, saying "He was like immortal Jemima; when he was good he was very good but when he was bad he was horrid" add something


He was appointed Shadow Defence Secretary after the creation of the position in 1964 add something


When Labour won the 1964 election Healey served throughout the government as Secretary of State for Defence add something


National Socialist Movement (UK, 1962) - The campaign against Walker intensified in 1965 when Colin Jordan took to the stage of a public meeting addressed by Denis Healey, who punched Jordan


Alan Lee Williams - He was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Rt Hon Denis Healey MP in his role as Defence Secretary from 1967 to 1970


Harold Wilson - In July 1967 Defence Secretary Denis Healey announced that Britain would abandon her mainland bases East of Suez by 1977, although airmobile forces would be retained which could if necessary be deployed in the region


The British nickname "Silly Billy" was popularised in the 1970s by impressionist Mike Yarwood, putting it in the mouth of the chancellor, Denis Healey, who took the catchphrase up and used it as his own add something


He remained defence secretary for the party's near six years of Government and was Shadow Defence Secretary after Labour's defeat in June 1970 add something


Patricia Hewitt - Hewitt joined the Labour Party in the 1970s, and was initially a follower of Tony_Benn; she publicly condemned those left-wing MPs who abstained in the deputy leadership election of 1981, giving Denis Healey a narrow victory


Healey was appointed Shadow Chancellor in April 1972 after Roy Jenkins resigned in a row over the European Economic Community add something


In a speech in Lincoln on 18 February 1974, reported in "The Times" the following day, Healey went further, promising he would "squeeze property speculators until the pips squeak" and said Lord Carrington, the Conservative Secretary of State for Energy, had made £10m profit from selling agricultural land at prices 30 to 60 times as high as it would command as farming land add something


Healey became Chancellor of the Exchequer in March 1974 after Labour's narrow election victory add something


During Led Zeppelin's 1975 and 1977 concert tours, Robert Plant facetiously dedicated the song "In My Time of Dying" to Healey for the tax exile issues the band was facing add something


Eric Heffer - At the 1975 Labour conference his bid for a National Executive Committee seat was finally successful as he defeated Denis Healey


The loan was negotiated and agreed in November and December 1976 and announced in Parliament on 15 December 1976 add something


Norman Atkinson - As treasurer, he clashed with Chancellor Denis Healey at the 1976 Labour Party Conference


Tony Benn - In autumn 1976 there was a sterling crisis, and Chancellor of the Exchequer Denis Healey sought a loan from the International Monetary Fund


Liberal Party (UK) - The agreement lasted from 1977 to 1978, but proved mostly fruitless, for two reasons: the Liberals' key demand of proportional representation was rejected by most Labour MPs, whilst the contacts between Liberal spokespersons and Labour ministers often proved detrimental, such as between finance spokesperson John Pardoe and Chancellor of the Exchequer Denis Healey, who were mutually antagonistic


On 14 June 1978, Healey likened being attacked by the mild-mannered Sir Geoffrey Howe in the House of Commons to being "savaged by a dead sheep" add something


Labour lost the general election to the Conservatives in May 1979, following the Winter of Discontent during which Britain had faced a large number of strikes add something


Labour Party (UK) - After its defeat in the 1979 election the Labour Party underwent a period of internal rivalry between the left-wing, represented by Michael Foot and Tony Benn, and the right-wing represented by Denis Healey


Healey was Shadow Foreign Secretary during most of the 1980s, a job he coveted add something


When Callaghan stepped down as Labour leader in November 1980, Healey was favourite to win the Labour Party leadership election, decided by Labour MPs add something


Tom Ellis (politician) - Ellis' disenchantment with the Labour Party was so great that he probably voted for Michael Foot over Denis Healey in Labour's 1980 leadership election in order to accelerate the disintegration of the Labour Party


Eric Varley - He led Denis Healey's campaign for the party leadership in 1980 and defeated the left-winger Norman Atkinson for the post of party Treasurer in 1981


Michael Foot - Foot was elected Labour leader on 4 November 1980, beating Denis Healey in the second round of the leadership election


Four Labour MPs who defected to the SDP in early 1981 said they voted against Healey to land the Labour Party with an unelectable left-wing leader and so help their new party add something


Tony Benn - In 1981, he stood against incumbent Denis Healey for Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, disregarding the appeal from Michael Foot to either stand for the leadership or abstain from inflaming the party's divisions


Neil Kinnock - In 1981, when still Labour's Education spokesman, Kinnock was alleged to have effectively scuppered Tony Benn's attempt to replace Denis Healey as Labour's deputy leader by first supporting the candidacy of the more traditionalist Tribunite John Silkin and urging Silkin supporters to abstain on the second, run-off, ballot


Robert McTaggart - The union leadership was strongly aligned with the right in internal Labour Party debates and its leader Frank Chapple supported Denis Healey in the Deputy Leadership election in 1981


Robin Cook - When Tony Benn challenged Denis Healey for the party's deputy leadership in September 1981, Cook supported Healey


Eric Heffer - Heffer joined with Foot and Denis Healey in an NEC motion calling for negotiations with the United Nations Secretary-General after the Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands on 28 April 1982, in opposition to a motion from Tony Benn calling for a ceasefire and withdrawal of the British taskforce


He was retained in the shadow cabinet by Neil Kinnock, who succeeded Foot after the disastrous 1983 general election, when the Tories bolstered their majority and Labour suffered their worst general election result in decades add something


Margaret Thatcher - Thatcher succeeded in completely suppressing her Lincolnshire dialect except when under stress, notably after provocation from Denis Healey in the House of Commons in April 1983, when she accused the Labour front bench of being "frit"


In 1986 he appeared in series one of "Saturday Live" add something


The 1986 comic "Watchmen", set in an alternative present, mentioned a "British Prime Minister Healey" add something


After the 1987 general election, he retired from the Shadow Cabinet, and in 1992 stood down after 40 years as a Leeds MP. In that year he received a life peerage as "'Baron Healey"', of Riddlesden in the County of West Yorkshire add something


Adam Boulton - It was during the 1987 general election that he was punched by Denis Healey after Anne Diamond asked Healey about his wife using private healthcare; the incident was witnessed by gossip columnist Nigel Dempster


Although he supported Tony Blair to lead the Labour Party within hours of John Smith's death in May 1994, he later became critical add something


He was portrayed by David Fleeshman in the 2002 BBC production of Ian Curteis's "The Falklands Play" add something


During 2004 and 2005, he called on Blair to stand down in favour of Gordon Brown add something


In July 2006 he argued that "Nuclear weapons are infinitely less important in our foreign policy than they were in the days of the Cold War" and "I don't think we need nuclear weapons any longer" add something


In 2007, when Healey had reached the age of 90, the Yorkshire Post said "As Chancellor, in 1974 he inherited an even worse picture add something


In a 2012 interview, Healey reported that he was swimming twenty lengths a day in his outdoor pool add something


In March 2013 during an interview with the "New Statesman", Healey said that if there was a referendum on British membership of the EU, he would vote to leave add something


Following the death of Alan Campbell, Baron Campbell of Alloway in June 2013, Healey became the oldest sitting member of the House of Lords add something


Following the death of John Freeman on 20 December 2014, Healey became the surviving former MP with the earliest date of first election, and the second-oldest surviving former MP, after Ronald Atkins add something


Healey died at his home in Alfriston, Sussex, on 3 October 2015 at the age of 98 add something


Derek Ezra, Baron Ezra - Following the death of Denis Healey in October 2015, Ezra became the oldest sitting member of the House of Lords, but took leave of absence on 30 November and died on 22 December


Albert McQuarrie - Following the death of Denis Healey on 3 October 2015, McQuarrie became the second-oldest surviving former MP, after Ronald Atkins


John Eden, Baron Eden of Winton - Following the death of Lord Healey on 3 October 2015, Eden became the surviving former MP with the earliest date of first election


Derek Ezra, Baron Ezra - Following the death of Denis Healey in October 2015, Ezra became the oldest sitting member of the House of Lords, but took leave of absence on 30 November and died on 22 December 2015


Steve Richards - In 2018, he presented another series of unscripted episodes for BBC Parliament, entitled "Reflections: The Prime Ministers We Never Had", which profiled Rab Butler, Denis Healey, Tony_Benn, Roy Jenkins, Neil Kinnock, Michael Heseltine, Kenneth Clarke, Michael Portillo, and David Miliband and Ed Miliband