For­mer UK Trea­sury sec­re­tary De­nis Healey dies at 98 af­ter ill­ness


Dec­o­rated World War II mil­i­tary hero and for­mer Bri­tish Trea­sury chief De­nis Healey has died af­ter a long ca­reer in Bri­tish pol­i­tics. He was 98.

His fam­ily said Healey, a Labour Party stal­wart and mem­ber of the House of Lords, died Satur­day morn­ing at his home in Sus­sex af­ter a brief ill­ness.

Healey was a tow­er­ing fig­ure on Bri­tain’s po­lit­i­cal scene for sev­eral decades, known for his fa­mil­iar bushy eye­brows, his forth­right de­meanor, and his wide-rang­ing in­ter­ests, which in­cluded pho­tog­ra­phy and the opera.

He never be­came party leader, nar­rowly los­ing a hotly con­tested lead­er­ship race to left- winger Michael Foot in 1980. That fate­ful de­feat cost Healey the chance to run for prime min­is­ter even though he was made deputy party leader.

His most chal­leng­ing mo­ment in gov­ern­ment came in 1976 when, as Trea­sury chief, he had to go to the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund for a des­per­ately needed loan to keep Bri­tain’s bat­tered fi­nances afloat.

That ac­tion, which re­quired a se­ries of dif­fi­cult cuts in public spend­ing, cost him left-wing sup­port within the party, a de­vel­op­ment that later doomed his lead­er­ship bid.

His death Satur­day brought tributes from across the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum, led by Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron from the ri­val Con­ser­va­tive Party.

Cameron praised Healey’s long ca­reer in public ser­vice and his brav­ery dur­ing World War II, when Healey served as a ma­jor in the Royal Engi­neers in North Africa and Italy.

“We’ve lost a huge fig­ure of post-war pol­i­tics,” the prime min­is­ter said. “A hero in World War II as beach master at Anzio and a brave politi­cian, De­nis Healey told his party hard truths about Bri­tain hav­ing to live within her means.”

He called Healey “a hugely en­ter­tain­ing man” and an ex­cel­lent au­thor.

Healey, an Ox­ford Univer­sity grad­u­ate, wrote nu­mer­ous books about pol­i­tics, na­tional se­cu­rity, Bri­tain’s place in the world, and also pub­lished a book of his pho­to­graphs.

Labour’s leader, Jeremy Cor­byn, praised Healey as a “Labour gi­ant whose record of ser­vice to party and coun­try stands as his tes­ta­ment.”

Healey ini­tially sup­ported Tony Blair, whose “New Labour” move­ment brought the party back to power af­ter a long drought, but he later broke with Blair be­cause of dis­agree­ment over Blair’s sup­port for the Iraq war.

Healey also served as de­fense sec­re­tary in the 1960s.

His wife Edna, a writer and film­maker, died in 2010. The cou­ple had a son and two daugh­ters.

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