The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

August 30, 2016

August 30, 1917

Referring to the death of British politician Denis Healey (August 30, 1917 to October 3, 2015), one obit said:

Denis Healey the best Prime Minister Labour never had dies, aged 98, in his sleep
He was one of the most towering figures of the post-war Labour Party. The ex-Chancellor fought battles against Labour’s militant Left-wingers...Lord Healey’s family said he died in his sleep at his Sussex home

And another summarizes

As an Oxford graduate, Healey entered politics after his war service, memorably being pictured at the 1945 Labour conference in his Army uniform as he talked to future Cabinet colleague Roy Jenkins.

He served as Defence Secretary from 1964 to 1970 and Chancellor from 1974 to 1979. The latter period saw Healey engaged in running battles with the party’s socialists as he attempted to impose pay curbs and public spending cuts.

But the defining moment of his political career came when he was forced to go ‘cap in hand’ for an emergency loan from the International Monetary Fund during the country’s near economic meltdown in 1976. After applying for the bailout, he was forced to rush back to the party conference in Brighton to urge delegates to accept the terms. He was heckled and booed on what he described as the most harrowing day of his life.

The 1970s was also a period when tax rates on the wealthy hit 98 per cent – although Healey never actually said, as is widely believed, that he was going to ‘tax the rich until the pips squeak’.

After Labour’s General Election defeat in 1979, he was beaten to the party leadership by Michael Foot. And in 1981, he fought a titanic battle for the deputy leadership against Left-winger Tony Benn, who was backed by a young Mr Corbyn. Healey won with 50.4 per cent of the vote to Benn’s 49.6.

After serving as Shadow Foreign Secretary during most of the 1980s, he retired from the Shadow Cabinet after the 1987 General Election, and from the Commons in 1992, becoming Baron Healey of Riddlesden.

His bushy eyebrows and witty one-liners – such as likening debating with Geoffrey Howe to ‘being savaged by a dead sheep’ – made him a favourite on the chat show circuit.

According to the Daily Mail:

But for all his Ministerial achievements, in some ways his greatest political moment came in opposition in 1981 when, with Labour on the cusp of capitulating to a hard-Left takeover, he won a crucial battle for the party’s deputy leadership, defeating Tony Benn by a slither.

It is to this Tony Benn, in his book Years Of Hope: Diaries,Letters and Papers 1940-1962 (2012) that we can credit a Healey quote:

"... Healey said Khrushchev used to murder cats when he was a child."

This was on October 5, 1960, when labor politics were being sorted at a conference.

No comments: