Labour Party stal­wart, WWII hero

The Washington Post Sunday - - OBITUARIES - BY GRE­GORY KATZ

De­nis Healey, a dec­o­rated World War II mil­i­tary hero and for­mer Bri­tish Trea­sury chief, died Oct. 3 at his home in Sus­sex, Eng­land. 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.

Mr. 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 opera.

He never be­came party leader, nar­rowly los­ing a hotly con­tested lead­er­ship race to left-winger Michael Foot in 1980. That fate­ful de­feat cost Mr. 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,” Cameron 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.”

De­nis Win­ston Healey was born Aug. 30, 1917, in Mot­ting­ham, Eng­land, and grew up in York­shire. His fa­ther was an engi­neer.

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

Mr. 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 the Iraq war, which Blair sup­ported.

Mr. Healey also served as min­is­ter of de­fense in the 1960s.

His wife, Edna, a writer and film­maker, died in 2010. Sur­vivors in­clude three chil­dren.


Bri­tain’s Labour Party deputy leader De­nis Healey smiles dur­ing a news con­fer­ence in front of the Krem­lin in­Moscow in 1987.

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