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Death of Edward Heath


John Simkin
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I have never voted for Edward Heath or his party but I have always respected him as a political figure (I know everybody in now saying this but I really mean it). I say this for the following reasons:

(1) In 1938 he went with three other undergraduates to observe the Spanish Civil War. He met leaders of the Popular Front government and on his return he campaigned against General Francisco Franco and the Nationalist Army.

(2) Heath was a strong opponent of the appeasement policy of Neville Chamberlain. Although a member of the Conservative Party, Heath supported his university tutor, A. D. Lindsay, the anti-appeasement candidate in the Oxford by-election in October, 1938.

(3) In the 1950 General Election Heath won Bexley with a majority of 133. A committed European, Heath made his maiden speech in the House of Commons on 26th June in favour of the Schuman Plan. He ended his speech with the words: "It was said long ago in the House that magnanimity in politics is not seldom the truest wisdom. I appeal tonight to the government to follow that dictum, and to go into the Schuman Plan to develop Europe and to coordinate it in the way suggested.

(4) Heath was a one nation Conservative as illustrated in his article showed in the seminal Conservative pamphlet, One Nation (1950).

(5) In 1965 Heath supported attempts by Harold Wilson to bring down the white minority regime in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). This upset Conservatives on the right and Heath had to deal with a rebellion led by Lord Salisbury.

(6) Heath lost the 1966 General Election to Harold Wilson. In 1968 Wilson's popularity slumped after Enoch Powell made his "rivers of blood" speech on immigration. Instead of supporting the use of the race issue to gain favour with the British electorate, Heath sacked Powell as a member of the shadow cabinet.

(7) He considered Margaret Thatcher to be a right-wing authoritarian and like another former Conservative prime minister, Harold Macmillan, Heath constantly criticized her policies.

(8) After leaving office he did not spend his time getting obsence amounts of money from the lecture circuit in the US. Instead he campaigned for justice for the Third World, for example, he was a key member of the Brandt Commission.

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He always seemed to be a decent human being to me.

Interestingly he would have to be placed to the left of the current Labour Party on any current British political spectrum.

What I do not approve of in his record was his changing the constitution of the UK (entry to the EEC) without consulting the electorate

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  • 3 weeks later...
I have never voted for Edward Heath or his party but I have always respected him as a political figure (I know everybody in now saying this but I really mean it). I say this for the following reasons:

(1)  In 1938 he went with three other undergraduates to observe the Spanish Civil War. He met leaders of the Popular Front government and on his return he campaigned against General Francisco Franco and the Nationalist Army.

(2) Heath was a strong opponent of the appeasement policy of Neville Chamberlain. Although a member of the Conservative Party, Heath supported his university tutor, A. D. Lindsay, the anti-appeasement candidate in the Oxford by-election in October, 1938.

(3) In the 1950 General Election Heath won Bexley with a majority of 133. A committed European, Heath made his maiden speech in the House of Commons on 26th June in favour of the Schuman Plan. He ended his speech with the words: "It was said long ago in the House that magnanimity in politics is not seldom the truest wisdom. I appeal tonight to the government to follow that dictum, and to go into the Schuman Plan to develop Europe and to coordinate it in the way suggested.

(4) Heath was a one nation Conservative as illustrated in his article showed in the seminal Conservative pamphlet, One Nation (1950).

(5) In 1965 Heath supported attempts by Harold Wilson to bring down the white minority regime in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). This upset Conservatives on the right and Heath had to deal with a rebellion led by Lord Salisbury.

(6) Heath lost the 1966 General Election to Harold Wilson. In 1968 Wilson's popularity slumped after Enoch Powell made his "rivers of blood" speech on immigration. Instead of supporting the use of the race issue to gain favour with the British electorate, Heath sacked Powell as a member of the shadow cabinet.

(7) He considered Margaret Thatcher to be a right-wing authoritarian and like another former Conservative prime minister, Harold Macmillan, Heath constantly criticized her policies.

(8) After leaving office he did not spend his time getting obsence amounts of money from the lecture circuit in the US. Instead he campaigned for justice for the Third World, for example, he was a key member of the Brandt Commission.

"(7) He considered Margaret Thatcher to be a right-wing authoritarian and like another former Conservative prime minister, Harold Macmillan, Heath constantly criticized her policies."

I admire this man. He knew a rogue when he saw one.

By any chance, were these the two gentlemen George Harrison immortalized, albeit "tongue-in-cheek", in his song, "Taxman"? Mr. Wilson, and Mr. Heath?

Edited by Terry Mauro
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By any chance, were these the two gentlemen George Harrison immortalized, albeit "tongue-in-cheek", in his song, "Taxman"?  Mr. Wilson, and Mr. Heath?

Yes. Harrison, like other stars, suffered from high-rates of income-tax under Wilson and Heath. Both these men used progressive taxation to redistribute wealth in the UK. It worked and inequality was reduced dramatically between 1964-1979. Margaret Thatcher, John Major and Tony Blair reversed this policy. Heatb was one of the first politicians to point out that Blair was in reality a Tory. Despite the statistics (the gap between rich and poor is wider today than at any time since the 19th century) some people, mainly members of the Labour Party, still see Blair as being on the left. Yet on every issue, he is to the right of the Ted Heath government in the 1970s.

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Yes. Harrison, like other stars, suffered from high-rates of income-tax under Wilson and Heath. Both these men used progressive taxation to redistribute wealth in the UK. It worked and inequality was reduced dramatically between 1964-1979. Margaret Thatcher, John Major and Tony Blair reversed this policy.

...and we know the results of this. This mirror very well what happened in Sweden. As a cornerstone of the Swedish welfare politics was progressive taxation. To reverse this system was the target of the conservative over the years. Still the country and most of the population experienced a period (from the 1940's into the 1970's) of continous progress. The result of progressive taxation was well distributed and the differences between rich and poor became much less. Sweden went from being a poor agricultural country in the beginning of the 20th century to a well respected modern industrial country, a role model.

In the late 70's and early 1980's we start to see a change. Under the pressure from the capital (wealthy conservative and dominant private enterprises), who had been able to build up their strength within this system(!), the economic politic started to change. The deconstruction of the welfare state had started. Today we don't recognize the "old" Social democratic economic politics. It's economical policy is more conservative than the ideas the conservative party presented in the 50's-70's. The rift between rich and poor has become much wider, the general difference between rich and poor is much bigger, the executives gets these fantasy wages and benefits, the well established companies move their business abroad and the left-over of the old welfare state gets weaker and weaker.

This is a most disturbing development... :D - I know, but when John showed this development in Britain I had to show that this was a development that took place in other countries as well...

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This is a most disturbing development...  :D - I know, but when John showed this development in Britain I had to show that this was a development that took place in other countries as well...

Maybe we need to start a new thread on this topic. I would be interested to hear if the same thing has happened in other countries. It is a subject that is rarely discussed in the media. Can understand why. The vast majority of the population were in favour of this "progressive taxation" policy. That is why Heath left it alone when he took over from Wilson. He feared that if he did, he would lose the next election. He was therefore amazed when Thatcher got away with it in the 1980s. I have also been amazed with the way Blair has got away with it. The main way is that New Labour refuse to discuss this issue. A cabinet minister, Peter Hain, was threatened with the sack when he raised this topic a couple of years ago.

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Maybe we need to start a new thread on this topic. I would be interested to hear if the same thing has happened in other countries. It is a subject that is rarely discussed in the media. Can understand why.

I think this is a very good idea. I agree that it would be interesting to see if other countries went through the same development. It would also be good to see what exactly was it that happened in these countries, to more in detail describe the change. Maybe it could be called "the end of the welfare state" or...

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