Edward Heath

Sir Edward Heath

Edward Heath 4 Allan Warren.jpg
Heath in 1987 by Allan Warren
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
In office
19 June 1970 – 4 March 1974
MonarchElizabeth II
Preceded byHarold Wilson
Succeeded byHarold Wilson
Leader of the Opposition
In office
4 March 1974 – 11 February 1975
MonarchElizabeth II
Prime MinisterHarold Wilson
Preceded byHarold Wilson
Succeeded byMargaret Thatcher
In office
28 July 1965 – 19 June 1970
MonarchElizabeth II
Prime MinisterHarold Wilson
Preceded bySir Alec Douglas-Home
Succeeded byHarold Wilson
Leader of the Conservative Party
In office
28 July 1965 – 11 February 1975
Preceded bySir Alec Douglas-Home
Succeeded byMargaret Thatcher
Father of the House
In office
9 April 1992 – 7 June 2001
Preceded byBernard Braine
Succeeded byTam Dalyell
Ministerial offices
President of the Board of Trade
In office
20 October 1963 – 16 October 1964
Prime MinisterSir Alec Douglas-Home
Preceded byFred Erroll
Succeeded byDouglas Jay
Secretary of State for Industry, Trade and Regional Development
In office
20 October 1963 – 16 October 1964
Prime MinisterSir Alec Douglas-Home
Preceded byPosition created
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal
In office
14 February 1960 – 18 October 1963
Prime MinisterHarold Macmillan
Preceded byThe Viscount Hailsham
Succeeded bySelwyn Lloyd
Minister of Labour
In office
14 October 1959 – 27 July 1960
Prime MinisterHarold Macmillan
Preceded byIain Macleod
Succeeded byJohn Hare
Chief Whip of the House of Commons
& Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury
In office
7 April 1955 – 14 June 1959
Prime Minister
Preceded byPatrick Buchan-Hepburn
Succeeded byMartin Redmayne
Lord Commissioner of the Treasury
In office
7 November 1951 – 20 December 1955
Prime Minister
Preceded byWilliam Wilkins
Succeeded byEdward Wakefield
Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer
In office
27 October 1964 – 27 July 1965
LeaderSir Alec Douglas-Home
Preceded byReginald Maudling
Succeeded byIain Macleod
Parliamentary offices
Member of Parliament
for Old Bexley and Sidcup
In office
23 February 1950 – 7 June 2001
Preceded byAshley Bramall
Succeeded byDerek Conway
Personal details
Edward Richard George Heath

(1916-07-09)9 July 1916
Broadstairs, Kent, England
Died17 July 2005(2005-07-17) (aged 89)
Salisbury, Wiltshire, England
Resting placeSalisbury Cathedral
Political partyConservative
Alma materBalliol College, Oxford
  • Civil servant
  • musician
  • politician
  • yachtsman
Military career
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
RankLieutenant Colonel
Service number179215
Battles/warsSecond World War

Sir Edward Richard George Heath KG MBE (9 July 1916 – 17 July 2005), often known as Ted Heath, was a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1970 to 1974 and Leader of the Conservative Party from 1965 to 1975. He was a strong supporter of the European Communities (EC), and after winning the decisive vote in the House of Commons by 336 to 244, he led the negotiations that culminated in Britain's entry into the EC on 1 January 1973. It was, says biographer John Campbell, "Heath's finest hour".[1] Although he planned to be an innovator as Prime Minister, his government foundered on economic difficulties, including high inflation and major strikes. He became an embittered critic of Margaret Thatcher, who supplanted him as Tory leader.

Heath's lower middle-class origins were quite unusual for a Tory leader. He was a leader in student politics at the University of Oxford and served as an officer in the Royal Artillery during the Second World War. He worked briefly in the Civil Service,[2] but resigned in order to stand for Parliament, and was elected for Bexley in the 1950 general election. He was the Chief Whip from 1955 to 1959. Having entered the Cabinet as Minister of Labour in 1959, he was promoted to Lord Privy Seal and later became President of the Board of Trade. Heath was elected leader of the Conservative Party in 1965; he retained that position despite losing the 1966 general election.

Heath became Prime Minister after winning the 1970 general election. In 1971 he oversaw the decimalisation of British coinage, and in 1972 he reformed Britain's system of local government, reducing the number of local authorities and creating a number of new metropolitan counties. Possibly most significantly, he took Britain into the European Economic Community in 1973. Heath's premiership also coincided with the height of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, with the suspension of the Stormont Parliament and the imposition of direct British rule. Unofficial talks with Provisional Irish Republican Army delegates were unsuccessful, as was the Sunningdale Agreement of 1973, which led the MPs of the Ulster Unionist Party to withdraw from the Conservative whip.

Heath also tried to curb the trade unions with the Industrial Relations Act 1971, and hoped to deregulate the economy and make a transfer from direct to indirect taxation. Rising unemployment in 1972 led him to reflate the economy; he attempted to control the resulting high inflation by a prices and incomes policy. Two miners' strikes, in 1972 and at the start of 1974, damaged the government; the latter caused the implementation of the Three-Day Week to conserve energy. Heath eventually called an election for February 1974 to obtain a mandate to face down the miners' wage demands, but this instead resulted in a hung parliament in which the Labour Party, despite gaining fewer votes, had four more seats than the Conservatives. Heath resigned as Prime Minister after trying in vain to form a coalition with the Liberal Party. Despite losing a second general election in October that year, he vowed to continue as party leader. In February 1975, Margaret Thatcher challenged and defeated him to win the leadership.

Returning to the backbenches, Heath was vocally critical of Thatcherism. He remained a backbench MP until retiring at the 2001 election, serving as the Father of the House for his last nine years in Parliament. Outside politics, Heath was a world-class yachtsman and a talented musician. He died in 2005, aged 89. He is one of only four British prime ministers never to have married.

Early life

Edward Heath was born at 54 Albion Road, Broadstairs, Kent on 9 July 1916, the son of William George Heath (1888–1976), a carpenter who built air frames for Vickers during the First World War, and was subsequently employed as a builder[3] and Edith Anne Heath (née Pantony; 1888–1951), a maid. His father was later a successful small businessman after taking over a building and decorating firm. Heath's paternal grandfather had run a small dairy business, and when that failed worked as a porter at Broadstairs Station on the Southern Railway.[3] Heath was known as "Teddy" as a young man.[4] He was educated at Chatham House Grammar School in Ramsgate, and in 1935 with the aid of a county scholarship he went up to study at Balliol College, Oxford.[5]

In later years, Heath's peculiar accent, with its "strangulated" vowel sounds, combined with his non-Standard pronunciation of "l" as "w" and "out" as "eout", was satirised by Monty Python in the audio sketch "Teach Yourself Heath" (released on a 7" flexi-disc single included with initial copies of their 1972 LP Monty Python's Previous Record.[6] Heath's biographer John Campbell speculates that his speech, unlike that of his father and younger brother, who both spoke with Kent accents, must have undergone "drastic alteration on encountering Oxford", although retaining elements of Kent speech.

Other Languages
العربية: إدوارد هيث
беларуская: Эдвард Хіт
български: Едуард Хийт
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Ελληνικά: Έντουαρντ Χιθ
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हिन्दी: एडवर्ड हीथ
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latviešu: Edvards Hīts
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occitan: Edward Heath
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਐਡਵਰਡ ਹੀਥ
پنجابی: ایڈورڈ ہیتھ
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русский: Хит, Эдвард
Simple English: Edward Heath
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татарча/tatarça: Эдвард Хит
тоҷикӣ: Едвард Ҳет
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українська: Едвард Гіт
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粵語: 希思