Denis Healey
Denis Healey
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
In office:

October 2, 1983 - October 5, 1990

Preceded by: James Callaghan
Succeeded by: John Smith
Foreign Secretary
In office:

March 5, 1982 - October 15, 1983

Preceded by: Francis Pym
Succeeded by: David Owen
Chancellor of the Exchequer
In office:

1970 - 1973

Preceded by: Roy Jenkins
Succeeded by: Tony Crosland

August 30 1917, Nottingham, London

Died -
Nationality: British
Political party: Labour

Edna Edmunds

Children: None
Alma mater:

Balliol College, Oxford

Occupation: Politician
Religion: None

Denis Healey is a former British politician who served as Prime Minister (1983 - 1990).

Healey was first elected as an MP at the 1945 election, and entered cabinet in 1959. Healey was one of only a few Labour heavyweights to serve throughout the 1959 - 1975 Labour government, holding the Aviation (1959 - 1962), Defence (1964 - 1970) and Treasury (1970 - 1973) portfolios.

Healey ran in the 1973 Labour leadership election, and came a close third. He was sacked by Roy Jenkins shortly after he came to office, a controversial move at the time and for no apparent reason.

When Labour entered opposition he threw his support wholeheartedly behind James Callaghan, and became a loyal supporter throughout his leadership of the Labour party.

After the 1979 general election he moved from shadow chancellor to shadow foreign secretary, and he served as foreign secretary during the Callaghan government.

In 1983 Callaghan retired from the party leadership, Healey was elected as his successor as Labour leader and Prime Minister.

As Prime Minister Healey continued the Callaghan's policies of using the revenues from North Sea oil to pay off the national debt, as well as increased public spending on education and the NHS.

He led labour to victory at the 1987 general election, but with a reduced majority. His second government was much less stable than his first, with prominent figures such as David Owen, Neil Kinnock and Roy Hattersley maneuvering to be his successor.

By early 1990 the pressure had become too great, and Healey finally, and suddenly, resigned at the Labour Party conference in October. John Smith was elected as his successor.

Healey remains a political figure, and a frequent commentator on political issues, although in recent years he has withdrawn from public life somewhat. A controversial figure amongst Labour Party supporters he is remembered fondly by the general public.

Early Life

Early Political Career

Healey was elected MP for Pudsey and Otley at the 1945 election.

In 1950 he lost his seat, narrowly, at the general election, and spent two years outside parliament before returning at a by election as MP for Leeds South East.

He became an early supporter of Hugh Gaitskell, and one of the most ardent Gaitskellites. When Gaitskell led Labour to victory in 1959, Healey was appointed Aviation Minister.

Defence Secretary 1963 - 1970

In 1963 Gaitskell died after a short illness. Healey was not yet considered senior enough to run for the leadership, and campaigned heavily for James Callaghan. There was a proposal for Healey to run for the deputy leadership, however this ultimately amounted to nothing.

When Callaghan was defeated in the first round Healey wrote in his autobiography "It was a choice between a drunk [Brown] and Machiavelli [Wilson], and I chose Machiavelli"

After Wilson's victory he was promoted to Defence Secretary.

Chancellor of the Exchequer 1970 - 1973

Healey had been promised a senior cabinet post by Wilson after the 1970 election, and had expected (and hoped for) the foreign office. Much to Healey's surprise he was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer, and became one of the major players the in cabinet. When Jenkins entered office as Prime Minister he surprisingly removed Healey from the Treasury in place of Tony Crosland. Healey was instead offered his old portfolio of Defence, which he reluctantly accepted. Healey later wrote that it was probably the best thing to happen to him as it meant that he was not associated with the unpopular economic difficulties of the Jenkins government.

Opposition 1975 - 1982

He was a key supporter of James Callaghan in the 1975 leadership election, and was rewarded with the position of shadow chancellor. By this point he was clearly viewed as the second most important figure in the party.

After the 1979 election he was moved from shadow chancellor to shadow foreign secretary.

Foreign Secretary 1982 - 1983

Denis was appointed Foreign Secretary, and de facto Deputy Prime Minister by Callaghan. Healey would later describe in his memoirs that his brief period at the Foreign Office was his personal highlight of his political career.

Healey was considered Callaghan's obvious successor, and Callaghan tipped off Healey several weeks before he publicly announced his intention to resign.

Prime Minister 1983 - 1990

As Prime Minister Healey continued the same economic reformist policies of the Callaghan government.

Healey led Labour into the 1987 election, Labour was returned to office but with a reduced majority.

Unlike Jenkins, Healey was not a die hard pro-European although he supported British membership of the EU.

After 1988 his position as leader weakened, with figures such as David Owen and Neil Kinnock maneuvering for the Labour leadership. It was not until the Labour conference in October 1988 that he hinted he would retire before the next general election, and in January 1990 practically confirmed this in an interview with Brian Walden.

As soon as the Walden interview had been aired several prominent figures in government began raising support and money to mount leadership campaigns.

On September 5th Healey officially announced he would resign the Labour leadership as soon as a successor was elected. In the subsequent election he voted for Hattersley on the first two ballots, and Smith on the final three.

He built up a good relationship with John Smith as Chancellor, this relationship would continue when Smith suceeded him as Prime Minister.

First Healey Ministry 1983 - 1987

Prime Minister - Denis Healey

Chancellor of the Exchequer - Eric Varley

Foreign Secretary - David Owen

Home Secretary - Shirley Williams

Defence Secretary - Neil Kinnock

Education Secretary - Bill Rogers

Employment Secretary - John Smith

Energy Secretary - Gerald Kaufman

Environment Secretary - Jack Cunningham

Health Secretary - Michael Meacher

Trade and Industry Secretary - John Smith

Transport Secretary - John Prescott

Scottish Secretary - Donald Dewar

Welsh Secretary -

Second Healey Ministry 1987 - 1990

Prime Minister - Denis Healey

Chancellor of the Exchequer - John Smith

Foreign Secretary - David Owen

Home Secretary - Roy Hattersley

Defence Secretary - Neil Kinnock

Education Secretary - Jack Straw

Employment Secretary - Michael Meacher

Energy Secretary - John Prescott

Health Secretary - Robin Cook

Trade and Industry Secretary - Bryan Gould

Transport Secretary -

Scottish Secretary - Donald Dewar

Welsh Secretary - 
Denis healey labour

Denis Healey and Michael Foot, 1980

Post Premiership

Healey remained a backbench MP before stepping down at the 1991 general election. Shortly afterwards he was introduced to the House of Lords. He became an adviser to John Smith, and was one of those who advised him to call an early election in 1991. Healey's relationship with Neil Kinnock was noted by one biographer as being "Civil, but without much warmth", despite that he campaign vigorously for Labour in the 1996 general election.

He strongly criticised Michael Portillo's conservative government, describing the decision to privatise the BBC as "a national insult to license fee payers". In 2006 he advocated Britain retiring its nuclear weapons, stating that "there is no longer a real case for them".

In 2013 he

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