Former Labour chancellor Denis Healey died peacefully in his sleep on Saturday morning, his family announced. He died at his home in Sussex after a short illness. He was 98.
Healey served as Labour's chancellor of the exchequer from 1974 to 1979. He came close to winning the Labour leadership in 1980, finishing with 10 votes less than Michael Foot. After the loss, Healey became deputy Labour leader of the opposition. After serving as a member of parliament for 40 years, he joined the House of Lords in 1992.
Britain's new Chancellor of the Exchequer Denis Healey with his Budget Box in his offices in Whitehall, London, on March 22, 1974
Healey was born in London in 1917, but grew up in Keighley, Yorkshire. He attended Bradford Grammar School before studying at Balliol in Oxford. During the Second World War he served with the Royal Engineers, seeing action in North Africa and Italy.
Healey was a member of the Fabian Society executive committee and a councillor of the Royal Institute of International Affairs before going into politics.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn released a statement on new of the Lord's death. It read:
Denis Healey was a giant of the Labour Party whose record of service to his party and his country stands as his testament.
He distinguished himself with his military service during the Second World War and continued that commitment to the British people as a Labour politician at the highest levels of government. His wit and personality transcended politics itself, making him one of the most recognisable politicians of his era.
Speaking personally, we had many interesting conversations when I was first elected to Parliament in 1983 and I found him a decent and very knowledgeable man who I enjoyed engaging with, particularly in his work as Shadow Foreign Secretary.
Labour is built on people with the commitment of those who devote their lives to public service, as Denis Healey did. The thoughts of everyone in the Labour Party are with his family at this time.
Former Labour leader Neil Kinnock offered the following words:
Denis had high intellect, great personal courage, charm and a sense of humour which was rumbustious and, when needed, lethal. His “hinterland”, as he called it, was culturally broad and creative. It reflected his abiding conviction that everyone should have access to “the best that beauty has to offer.
He didn’t suffer fools gladly or, indeed, at all. That partly explains why he was never Leader of the Party despite having rich political talent. He was brilliant in the Commons, an ebullient campaigner in the country, and his piano-thumping performances in by-election singsongs were – like him – loud, lively, and uplifting.
Denis’ love for Edna, his partner in every sense, was strong and lifelong, his commitment to Labour was total, his character was unforgettable. To know Denis Healey was to enjoy him.
Glenys and I offer our deepest sympathy to his children to whom – as they know – he was completely devoted.