Sunday, 4 October 2015

Denis Healey

There have been tributes elsewhere based on deeper personal and political knowledge. I would like to add some sidelights on a man of my father's generation, one who shared in the push up Italy to complete the rout of fascism. (One of my deepest regrets is not having asked my father more about this campaign.) That must have helped form Denis Healey's political stance. He must have been the last survivor of those men in public life who had served in the second world war.

So when he said in a 1983 speech in Birmingham à propos the Falklands re-capture that Margaret Thatcher had ''wrapped herself in the Union Jack, exploiting the sacrifices of our troops.'' he spoke with authority.  ''This Prime Minister who glories in slaughter has taken advantage of the superb professionalism of our forces in the Falkland Islands,'' he had continued. ''Now she is lending the military dictatorship in Buenos Aires millions of pounds to buy weapons to kill British servicemen. This is an act of stupefying hypocrisy.''

Healey was also critical of the Major government's contribution to the break-up of Yugoslavia. He accused Norman Lamont of being complicit in Germany's hurried recognition of Slovenia and Croatia in return for the federal republic's agreeing to keep sterling over-valued within the European Monetary System.

There was a gentler side to him which came more to the fore in retirement. One wonders what more he might have achieved if he had been more forgiving and less swift with biting criticism of his enemies within the Labour party when he was in his prime.

He was certainly not one-dimensional, as this appreciation of an exhibition of his photography showed. It is to be hoped that more of his photographs will be shown in the days to come.

1 comment:

Frank H Little said...

It's worth listening to the contributions in the last ten minutes of yesterday's "Broadcasting House".