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Mrs Thatcher’s Admirer

Ian Aitken, 21 November 1991

Time to declare 
by David Owen.
Joseph, 822 pp., £20, September 1991, 0 7181 3514 8
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... Denis Healey, a politician who long ago established that the hobnailed boot can be wielded with just as much delicacy and skill as the épée, once said of David Owen that the Good Fairy who attended his birth had generously bestowed upon him the three qualities of charm, intelligence and good looks. He is then reported to have added: ‘What a pity that the Bad Fairy made him a shit ...

Seeing it all

Peter Clarke, 12 October 1989

The Time of My life 
by Denis Healey.
Joseph, 512 pp., £17.95, October 1989, 0 7181 3114 2
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... When they asked Haldane what sort of an army he had in mind, his reply was: A Hegelian army.’ Denis Healey calls his six years at the Ministry of Defence in the Sixties ‘the most exhilarating period of my life’ and ‘the most rewarding of my political career’. These are, of course, relative judgments, reflecting the barrenness of Labour ...

Labour’s Beachmaster

Peter Clarke: Jenkins, Healey, Crosland, 23 January 2003

Denis HealeyA Life in Our Times 
by Edward Pearce.
Little, Brown, 634 pp., £28, June 2002, 0 316 85894 3
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Friends and Rivals: Crosland, Jenkins and Healey 
by Giles Radice.
Little, Brown, 376 pp., £20, September 2002, 0 316 85547 2
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... his years, if not mortality too. Yet in the end his death has given his old friend and rival Denis Healey the satisfaction of having the last word, explicitly criticising the founder of the SDP for having had such a silly idea, while implicitly celebrating his own good sense in sticking with the Labour Party. Which of them had the more ...

Second Last Leader

Ian Gilmour, 7 June 1984

Another Heart and Other Pulses: The Alternative to the Thatcher Society 
by Michael Foot.
Collins, 220 pp., £8.95, June 1984, 0 00 217256 9
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... it was designed to be read in that way, since the use of parts of it would show that he and Mr Healey were at loggerheads. The statement is reprinted in this book. It begins: ‘Labour believes in a strong defence for Britain and Britain’s allies ... Labour aims to make Britain strong enough with her allies to counter a conventional attack without resort ...
The Socialist Agenda 
edited by David Lipsey.
Cape, 242 pp., £7.95, January 1981, 0 224 01886 8
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The Future of Socialism 
by Anthony Crosland.
Cape, 368 pp., £8.95, January 1981, 0 224 01888 4
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Politics is for people 
by Shirley Williams.
Allen Lane/Penguin, 230 pp., £8.50, April 1981, 0 7139 1423 8
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... up at Blackpool last October will not be changed in any fundamental way and that Michael Foot and Denis Healey will therefore have to fight the next election on a programme closer to the French Communist Party’s than to that of any other important working-class party in the Western world. Labour has been losing support since the early Fifties. The gap ...

State-Sponsored Counter-Terror

Karl Miller, 8 May 1986

Parliamentary Debates: Hansard, Vol. 95, No 94 
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... This has been an exceptionally serious debate,’ said Denis Healey on Wednesday 16 April, in contributing to the principal occasion on which the House of Commons gave its mind to the American air strike on Tripoli and Ben Ghazi, two days before, and to the Prime Minister’s decision – with the minimum of Cabinet consultation – to play the part of an ally by sanctioning the use for that purpose of bases in Britain ...

Leading the Labour Party

Arthur Marwick, 5 November 1981

Michael Foot: A Portrait 
by Simon Hoggart and David Leigh.
Hodder, 216 pp., £8.95, September 1981, 0 340 27600 2
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... Party, seemed bent on hounding left-wingers into the wilderness. The bitterness was intense and Denis Healey, and all others identified as right-wingers, reap the whirlwind today. Some commentators touted the notion of a political realignment in which Labour would be a centre, potential governing, party and the Left would split off to form a party in ...

After the Battle

Matthew Coady, 26 November 1987

Misrule 
by Tam Dalyell.
Hamish Hamilton, 152 pp., £10.95, May 1987, 0 241 12170 1
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One Man’s Judgement: An Autobiography 
by Lord Wheatley.
Butterworth, 230 pp., £15.95, July 1987, 0 406 10019 5
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Changing Battlefields: The Challenge to the Labour Party 
by John Silkin.
Hamish Hamilton, 226 pp., £13.95, September 1987, 9780241121719
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Heseltine: The Unauthorised Biography 
by Julian Critchley.
Deutsch, 198 pp., £9.95, September 1987, 0 233 98001 6
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... ever after. The Anglo-French Variable Geometry aircraft project, which had the robust backing of Denis Healey as Secretary of State for Defence, was grounded after a sustained campaign by the tireless Scot. Again, he helped to defeat James Callaghan’s legislation designed to provide a devolved government for Scotland. But no occupant of 10 Downing ...

Late Developer

Paul Foot, 22 February 1990

Against the Tide: Diaries 1973-1976 
by Tony Benn.
Hutchinson, 512 pp., £20, October 1989, 0 09 173775 3
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... Others have written autobiographies. All are full of evidence of the impotence of office. Even Denis Healey in his recent popular autobiography admits that the notorious ‘IMF cuts’ in 1976 were probably based on a false prospectus presented to him by international bankers who knew they were deceiving him. But in all these cases the former ...
TheSinking of the ‘Belgrano’ 
by Desmond Rice and Arthur Gavshon.
Secker, 192 pp., £8.95, March 1984, 0 436 41332 9
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Our Falklands War 
edited by Geoffrey Underwood.
Maritime Books, 144 pp., £3.95, November 1983, 0 907771 08 4
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... Commander-in-Chief’s no less official report, and endorsed by the Prime Minister. Indeed, when Denis Healey, from the Opposition Front Bench, and I questioned Ministers, in the Monday and Tuesday Commons exchanges immediately after the Sunday sinking, we were given the impression that one of our submarines had come upon the Belgrano in a threatening ...
... surrender to both the Left and the Unions. There had been precious little support from colleagues. Denis Healey often missed crucial meetings: despite his vast experience and natural belligerence, there was no fight in him. Roy Hattersley was ever seeking compromises that slipped away into nothingness. Others, sound at heart, were wearied by the struggle ...

Short Cuts

David Runciman: Tony and Jeremy, 20 April 2017

... assault on the deputy leadership the following year, when he came within a whisker of defeating Denis Healey. ‘It has been a staggering result,’ he wrote in his diary in the immediate afterglow of heroic defeat, ‘with all the media against us, the most violent attacks by the shadow cabinet, the full intervention of Michael, the abstention of a ...

The Future of the Labour Party

Barbara Wootton, 18 December 1980

Healey’s Eye 
by Denis Healey.
Cape, 191 pp., £7.95, September 1980, 0 224 01793 4
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The Role of the Trade Unions: The Granada Guildhall Lectures 
by James Prior, Tony Benn and Lionel Murray.
Granada, 96 pp., £1, August 1980, 0 586 05386 7
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Rank and File 
by Hugh Jenkins.
Croom Helm, 179 pp., £9.95, September 1980, 0 7099 0331 6
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The Tragedy of Labour 
by Stephen Haseler.
Blackwell, 249 pp., £7.95, September 1980, 9780631113416
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Labour into the Eighties 
edited by David Bell.
Croom Helm, 168 pp., £9.95, September 1980, 0 7099 0443 6
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... the 1980 Party Conference by authors who have some concern about the future of the Labour Party. Healey’s is a magnificent picture-book strung on a slender autobiographical thread, which he describes as being ‘partly about photography, partly about the world and partly about me’. Although he has included some political anecdotes, the book makes no ...

Keeping Left

Edmund Dell, 2 October 1980

The Castle Diaries 
by Barbara Castle.
Weidenfeld, 778 pp., £14.95, September 1980, 0 297 77420 4
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... were frankly puzzled: Brian, David and I all said we got on like a house on fire with Denis Healey and Joel Barnett, even if Edmund was a more difficult customer.’ Denis Healey was forced to make too many compromises with the spending ministries in these early years. He was forced to do so by the ...

Her way of helping me

Hugo Young, 6 December 1990

Listening for a Midnight Tram: Memoirs 
by John Junor.
Chapmans, 341 pp., £15.95, October 1990, 9781855925014
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... a journalistic art-form of which they need take not the slightest notice. One Christmas, he meets Denis Healey in the street. ‘Don’t think you’re going to get away with it,’ booms Healey’s voice as Junor is caught feeding a parking meter. They engage in bonhomous conversation. What a marvellous moment, the ...

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