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The lost leader Denis Healey Edward Pearce 480pp Little Brown Denis Healey an intellectual who matched Roy Jenkins a proven administrator with undeniable courage and a useful street politician Why then was Michael Foot leading Labour to ignominy in 1983 and why was the party so perverse in neglecting Healey These are the questions Edward Pearce seeks to answer and he has good qualifications for the job A Europhile and former Labour parliamentary candidate his career as a Westminster columnist has given him an encyclopaedic knowledge of the Labour movement Healey is a compelling subject Academic brilliance at Balliol was followed by a distinguished war record He entered politics as a Transport House backroom boy namely as international secretary of the Labour party His political career was dominated firstly by foreign affairs and defence and then from the 1970s onwards by economic issues Pearce considers both aspects in depth As international secretary Healey was a valued adviser to his patron Ernest Bevin They must have been a formidable partnership The late 1940s were crucial in developing Healeys views The elimination of the social democratic parties in eastern Europe particularly in Czechoslovakia confirmed his fears of Soviet Russian expansion and there was the anxiety that France and Italy with their large communist parties would defect to Moscow Healey saw the vital importance of the US and the Nato alliance he was always a committed Atlantacist and only a qualified European His delayed arrival at Westminster via a byelection in 1952 was soon compensated by rapid promotion and he was shortly answering debates from the front bench To be Labour spokesman on defence in the 1960s was a beleaguered task The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament sharply divided the party Healey was unmoved by its idealism and never compromised his commitment to partnership with the US At the same time he ridiculed the Tory military grandeur that had led to a series of expensive -
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