Denis Healey, British politician, died at 98

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Denis Winston Healey, Baron Healey, born on August 30, 1917 and died October 3, 2015, he was a British Labour politician who served as Secretary of State for Defence from 1964 to 1970 and Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1974 to 1979.

He was a Member of Parliament for 40 years (from 1952 until his retirement in 1992) and was the last surviving member of the cabinet formed by Harold Wilson after the Labour Party’s victory in the 1964 general election.

A major figure in the party, he was twice defeated in bids for the party leadership.

Denis became well known for his trademark bushy eyebrows and his creative turns of phrase.

During an interview with Nick Clarke on BBC Radio 4, Denis Healey was the first Labour politician to publicly declare his wish for the Labour leadership to pass to Tony Blair in 1994 (following the death of Labour leader John Smith).

Denis was born in Mottingham, Kent, but moved with his family to Keighley in the West Riding of Yorkshire when he was five.

His middle name was in honour of Winston Churchill.

Denis was one of two siblings. His father was an engineer who worked his way up from humble origins studying at night school.

His paternal grandfather was a tailor from Enniskillen in Northern Ireland. Denis was educated at Bradford Grammar School.

In 1936 he won an exhibition to Balliol College, Oxford – to read Greats – where he was involved in Labour politics, although he was not active in the Oxford Union Society.

At Oxford Denis joined the Communist Party in 1937 during the Great Terror but left in 1940 after the fall of France.

Also at Oxford, Denis met future Conservative Prime Minister Teddy Heath (as he was then known), whom he succeeded as president of Balliol College Junior Common Room, and who was to be a lifelong friend and political rival.

Denis achieved a double first degree, awarded in 1940.

Denis Healey died at age 98 on October 3, 2015.