UK Politics

Tributes to Labour's Denis Healey

Denis Healey Image copyright PA

Tributes from across the political world have been paid to former Labour chancellor Denis Healey, who has died at the age of 98.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

"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."

Prime Minister David Cameron

"We've lost a huge figure of post-war politics. A hero in World War Two as beach master at Anzio and a brave politician, Denis Healey told his party hard truths about Britain having to live within her means.

"By all accounts he was a hugely entertaining man personally - and author of tremendously readable and informative books. A great man and a genuine public servant has left us. We should mourn with his family and give thanks for all he gave our country."

Image copyright Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body

Former cabinet colleague Shirley Williams

"He said things the way they were and you couldn't stop him from doing so.

"Unlike so many members of Parliament, Denis had this extraordinarily rich hinterland which meant he got huge satisfaction out of life whether or not he was prime minister. Being a prime minister wasn't the most important thing in his life, as it is in the life of many politicians.

"Probably the most important thing in his life was his wife.

"He was a mixture of incredible courage, lack of tact and not very good at playing in a way that would give him the advantage as distinct from party or the country. It was an impressive performance and I shan't forget it."

Former Labour prime minister Tony Blair

"Denis Healey was a great champion for social justice, in and out of government, a stalwart of the Labour Party, a true patriot who fought for and cared deeply about his country and an extraordinary and vibrant character.

"His was a generation which lived through the horrors of war and came back determined to build a peace that was progressive and offered the prospect of opportunity for all.

"He steered the Labour government and the country through some of the most difficult economic times; and in winning the deputy leadership of the Labour Party in 1981, he probably saved the Labour Party as an instrument of government and social change. All of us in the Labour Party owe him a huge debt. Britain has lost a dedicated and faithful public servant."

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Shadow chancellor John McDonnell

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Media captionShadow chancellor John McDonnell: Healey was "a towering intellect"

"He was always looked upon as a real bruiser politically, but actually if you took him to one side, he was one of the kindest men I've ever met.

"And he was always really helpful to young up-and-coming activists like myself.

"Even though he disagreed with you, he was immensely kind, gave good advice at times and also was willing to come down and campaign in your constituency, even if you were on a different spectrum within the Labour Party."

Former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown

"Denis Healey will always be remembered as one of the great political figures of Britain's 20th Century.

"No one could stereotype or spin Denis - who was a polymath and a great character in his own right with wide popular appeal.

"I found him to be a friend who was always intellectually robust, passionate about his values, knowledgeable in every area of policy and supportive when times were difficult.

"He will be remembered most as a tough, no-nonsense, chancellor of the exchequer, but because of his detailed and panoramic knowledge of international events his greatest interest always lay in foreign affairs.

"He enjoyed widespread respect and his contribution to public service will be recognised in every continent."

Image copyright PA

Former Labour leader Neil Kinnock

"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 sing-songs were - like him - loud, lively, and uplifting.

"Denis's 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."

Former Labour leader Ed Miliband

"Denis Healey was an iconic figure of a great generation. He served our country and our party with unique character, humour and resilience."

Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson

"Denis Healey was a man of great energy, humour and intellect who served his country and party with distinction. He was a talented member of the generation of politicians who fought in the Second World War, then helped build the peace in Europe and shape the post-war world.

"Denis was one of the great characters in politics and was widely admired by Labour Party members. On behalf of them, I send condolences to his family."

Labour's leader in the House of Lords, Baroness Smith of Basildon

"Denis was a great man of British politics and a real character with a tremendous sense of fun.

"He maintained his passion and commitment and all of us in the Labour peers group will miss him so much."

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

"Very sorry to hear that Denis Healey has died. He was, undoubtedly, a giant of the post-war Labour movement. Condolences to his family."

Chancellor George Osborne

"Sad to hear that Denis Healey has died at 98. A giant of the Labour movement... Chancellor in the most difficult circumstances."

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