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Edward Heath [Jul. 18th, 2005|11:50 am]
Tony Grist
Edward Heath has died. He was leader of the conservative party from 1965 until Mrs T toppled him and Prime Minister from 1970-74.

Reading the obits I'm reminded of the extent to which I'm a Heathite. His biggest achievement was to get Britain into the Common Market (later the EU.) I was always a keen European- still am. I guess some of that passion for Europe is derived (by osmosis or trickle-down) from Heath.

He wasn't a particularly attractive man. He had a big fake grin (cheesier even than Blair's) and satirists took full advantage of the fact that Heath rhymes with teeth. By modern standards he was remarkably unspun. He was plump, ugly, charmless. He never married and his sexuality remains a mystery. Something I'd forgotten- and it's to his credit that he never made a big thing of it- is that he was a war hero and holder of the M.C.

After Mrs T took the leadership away he opposed her from the back benches. He'd have been more effective in this if he hadn't come across as a such sore loser. Unlike most of today's politicians he had a life beyond politics. He raced yatchs and conducted a church choir and wrote books about his hobbies. At the time I got sick of hearing about how Morning Cloud (Heath's yatch) was doing in this or that boat race, but in retrospect it seems healthy and endearing that he gave so much time and energy to his extra-curricular activities. What does Blair do in his spare time? Read political biographies probably.

I didn't like him. He wasn't a man you liked. But I guess I respected him. He was right about a lot of things. He lived a full life. He made good use of his time.

[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-07-18 04:29 am (UTC)
How old was he?

I am ashamed to say I never heard of him.

He lived a full life. He made good use of his time.

It does seem so.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-07-18 04:40 am (UTC)
He was 89.

Not only a full life, but a long one.

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[User Picture]From: shewhomust
2005-07-18 06:16 am (UTC)
During his premiership, Heath was very much The Enemy; once Thatcher came along the perspective shifted a little. He represented an old-fashioned conservatism very much at odds with her doctrinaire radicalism. Still, it was a surprise to hear Tony Benn on the radio this morning talking about how they had campaigned together against the invasion of Iraq.

The things which I remember personally about him are: his curious laugh - all in the shoulders. And (this is part of the Europeanism) he was willing to speak French in public, which he did fluently and with an atrocious accent.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-07-18 08:15 am (UTC)
I viewed him as the enemy too. But that was before Thatcher....and Major....and Blair.

And, yes, the laugh. If then had been now they'd have got someone in to give him a make-over and eliminate all those irritating quirks.
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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2005-07-18 06:51 am (UTC)
NPR did a less than flattering story on him this morning, portraying him as a staunch enemy of Mrs. Thatcher who rejoiced when she was (finally) defeated.

But I remember hearing about him. And 89 is a very ripe old age.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-07-18 08:20 am (UTC)
He was a staunch enemy of Thatcher's. For me that's a plus. But then I regard Thatcher as a very bad thing indeed. I know she has a good reputation abroad, but back home she was very divisive and is still- in certain quarters (including this one)- very well hated.
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From: ex_kharin447
2005-07-19 08:25 am (UTC)
"What does Blair do in his spare time? Read political biographies probably."

He reads theology, apparently.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-07-19 08:48 am (UTC)
That's a scary thought.

It's odd/ironic/puzzling that here we are- the most secular society in the west (more or less) and we have the most frankly religious leader (with the exception of George Bush.) I can't work out how or why this has happened.
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From: ex_kharin447
2005-07-19 11:47 am (UTC)
I think that people are generally indifferent to belief except when it seems to define a political programme. Blair wasn't especially demonstrative concerning his faith (largely because Alastair Campbell wouldn't let him) and it was accordingly not viewed as an issue. Until there came faith schools, religion czars and assorted other initiatives...
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