July 18th, 2005

Edward Heath

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.