Edward Heath

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Person.png Sir Edward Heath   Powerbase WikiquoteRdf-icon.png
(Politician)
Edward Heath.jpg
BornEdward Richard George Heath
1916-07-09
Broadstairs, Kent, England, United Kingdom
Died2005-07-17 (Age 89)
Salisbury, Wiltshire, England, United Kingdom
NationalityBritish
Alma materOxford University/Balliol College
ReligionAnglican
Parents • William George Heath
• Edith Anne Pantony
PartyConservative

Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (HM Government).svg UK/Prime Minister Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
19 June 1970 - 4 March 1974
Preceded byHarold Wilson
Succeeded byHarold Wilson

Employment.png Leader of the Opposition Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
4 March 1974 - 11 February 1975
Preceded byHarold Wilson

Employment.png Leader of the Opposition Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
28 July 1965 - 19 June 1970
Preceded byAlec Douglas-Home
Succeeded byHarold Wilson

Employment.png Leader of the Conservative Party Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
28 July 1965 - 11 February 1975
Preceded byAlec Douglas-Home

Employment.png Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
27 October 1964 - 27 July 1965

Employment.png Lord Privy Seal Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
14 February 1960 - 18 October 1963
Succeeded bySelwyn Lloyd

Employment.png Minister of Labour

In office
14 October 1959 - 27 July 1960

Employment.png Government Chief Whip in the Commons

In office
7 April 1955 - 14 June 1959

Employment.png Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
7 April 1955 - 14 June 1959

Employment.png Father of the House

In office
9 April 1992 - 7 June 2001
Succeeded byTam Dalyell

Employment.png President of the Board of Trade

In office
20 October 1963 - 16 October 1964

Employment.png Member of Parliament for Sidcup

In office
28 February 1974 - 9 June 1983

Employment.png Member of Parliament for Bexley

In office
23 February 1950 - 28 February 1974

Sir Edward Heath (9 July 1916 – 17 July 2005) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1970 to 1974 and Leader of the Conservative Party from 1965 to 1975.

Born in Kent, Heath studied at Oxford University and served in the Second World War. He was first elected to Parliament in 1950 for Bexley, and was the Chief Whip from 1955 to 1959. Entering the Cabinet as Minister of Labour in 1959, he was later promoted to Lord Privy Seal and later became President of the Board of Trade. In 1965, Heath was elected leader of the Conservative Party, retaining that position despite losing the 1966 election.

Edward Heath became Prime Minister after winning the United Kingdom General Election in 1970. 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 oversaw 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 (IRA) delegates were unsuccessful, as was the Sunningdale Agreement of 1973, which caused 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 had hoped to deregulate the economy and make a transfer from direct to indirect taxation. However, rising unemployment in 1972 caused Heath to reflate the economy, attempting 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 causing 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 Labour, despite winning fewer votes, had four more seats than the Tories. 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, Heath vowed to continue as leader of his party. In February 1975, however, his former Education Secretary Margaret Thatcher challenged and defeated Heath to win the leadership. Returning to the backbenches, Heath became an active critic of Thatcher's policies. Outside of politics, Heath was a world-class yachtsman and a talented musician. He was also one of only four British Prime Ministers never to have married.[1]

Early life

Edward Heath (known as "Teddy" as a young man) was born at 54 Albion Road, Broadstairs, Kent on 9 July 1916, the son of William George Heath, a carpenter and builder, and Edith Anne Heath (née Pantony), a maid. His father was later a successful small businessman. 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. A talented musician, he won the college's organ scholarship in his first term (he had previously tried for the organ scholarships at St Catharine's College Cambridge, and Keble College Oxford) which enabled him to stay at the university for a fourth year; he eventually graduated with a Second Class Honours BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics in 1939.

While at university Heath became active in Conservative politics. On the key political issue of the day, foreign policy, he opposed the Conservative-dominated government of the day ever more openly. His first Paper Speech (i.e. a major speech listed on the order paper along with the visiting guest speakers) at the Oxford Union, in Michaelmas 1936, was in opposition to the appeasement of Nazi Germany by returning her colonies, confiscated after the First World War. In June 1937 he was elected President of the Oxford University Conservative Association as a pro-Spanish Republican candidate, in opposition to the pro-Franco John Stokes (later a Conservative MP). In 1937–38 he was also chairman of the national Federation of University Conservative Associations, and in the same year (his third at university) he was Secretary then Librarian of the Oxford Union. At the end of the year he was defeated for the Presidency of the Oxford Union by another Balliol candidate, Alan Wood, on the issue of whether the Chamberlain government should give way to a left-wing Popular Front. On this occasion Heath supported the government.

In his final year Heath was President of Balliol College Junior Common Room, an office held in subsequent years by his near-contemporaries Denis Healey and Roy Jenkins, and as such was invited to support the Master of Balliol Alexander Lindsay, who stood as an anti-appeasement 'Independent Progressive' candidate against the official Conservative candidate, Quintin Hogg, in the Oxford by-election, 1938. Heath, who had himself applied to be the Conservative candidate for the by-election,[2] accused the government in an October Union Debate of "turning all four cheeks" to Adolf Hitler, and was elected as President of the Oxford Union in November 1938, sponsored by Balliol, after winning the Presidential Debate that "This House has No Confidence in the National Government as presently constituted". He was thus President in Hilary term 1939; the visiting Leo Amery described him in his diaries as "a pleasant youth".

As an undergraduate, Heath travelled widely in Europe. His opposition to appeasement was nourished by his witnessing first-hand a Nuremberg Rally in 1937, where he met top Nazis Hermann Göring, Joseph Goebbels and Heinrich Himmler at an SS cocktail party. He later described Himmler as "the most evil man I have ever met".[3] In 1938 he visited Barcelona, then under attack from Spanish Nationalist forces during the Spanish Civil War.

Second World War

Heath spent late 1939 and early 1940 on a debating tour of the United States before being called up. On 22 March 1941, he received an emergency commission as a second lieutenant in the Royal Artillery.[4] During the war he initially served with heavy anti-aircraft guns around Liverpool (which suffered heavy German bombing in May 1941) and by early 1942 was regimental adjutant, with the war substantive rank of captain. Later, as a temporary major commanding a battery of his own, he provided artillery support in the North-West Europe Campaign of 1944-1945, for which he received a mention in dispatches on 8 November 1945.[5]

According to his autobiography Heath participated as an Adjutant in the Normandy Landings, where he met Maurice Schumann, French Foreign Minister under President Georges Pompidou.[6]

Heath later remarked that, although he did not personally kill anybody, as the British forces advanced he saw the devastation caused by his unit's artillery bombardments. In September 1945 he commanded a firing squad that executed a Polish soldier convicted of rape and murder. He was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire, Military Division (MBE) on 24 January 1946.[7] He was demobilised in August 1946 and promoted to the substantive rank of lieutenant-colonel on 1 May 1947.[8] Heath joined the Honourable Artillery Company as a lieutenant-colonel on 1 September 1951,[9] in which he remained active throughout the 1950s, rising to Commanding Officer of the Second Battalion; a portrait of him in full dress uniform still hangs in the HAC's Long Room. In April 1971, as Prime Minister, he wore his lieutenant-colonel's insignia to inspect troops.

Post war, 1945–1950

Before the war Heath had won a scholarship to Gray's Inn and had begun making preparations for a career at the Bar, but after the war he instead passed top into the Civil Service. He then became a civil servant in the Ministry of Civil Aviation (he was disappointed not to be posted to the Treasury, but declined an offer to join the Foreign Office, fearing that foreign postings might prevent him from entering politics).[10] He joined a team under (later, Dame) Alison Munro tasked with drawing up a scheme for British airports using some of the many WW2 RAF bases, and was specifically charged with planning the home counties. Years later she attributed his evident enthusiasm for Maplin Airport to this work. Then much to the surprise of civil service colleagues, he sought adoption as the prospective parliamentary candidate for Bexley and resigned in November 1947.

After working as News Editor of the Church Times from February 1948 to September 1949,[11] Heath worked as a management trainee at the merchant bankers Brown, Shipley & Co. until his election as Member of Parliament (MP) for Bexley in the February 1950 General Election. In the election he defeated an old contemporary from the Oxford Union, Ashley Bramall, with a majority of 133 votes.

Member of Parliament (1950–1965)

Heath made his maiden speech in the House of Commons on 26 June 1950, in which he appealed to the Labour Government to participate in the Schumann Plan. As MP for Bexley, he gave enthusiastic speeches in support of the young, unknown candidate for neighbouring Dartford, Margaret Roberts, soon to become Margaret Thatcher.

In February 1951, Heath was appointed as an Opposition Whip by Winston Churchill. He remained in the Whip's Office after the Conservatives won the 1951 General Election, rising rapidly to Joint Deputy Chief Whip, Deputy Chief Whip and, in December 1955, Government Chief Whip under Anthony Eden. Journalist Geoffrey Wheatcroft has observed that "Of all government jobs, this requires firmness and fairness allied to tact and patience and Heath's ascent seems baffling in hindsight". Because of the convention that Whips do not speak in Parliament, Heath managed to keep out of the controversy over the Suez Crisis.

On the announcement of Eden's resignation, Heath submitted a report on the opinions of the Conservative MPs regarding Eden's possible successors. This report favoured Harold Macmillan and was instrumental in eventually securing Macmillan the premiership in January 1957. Macmillan later appointed Heath Minister of Labour, a Cabinet Minister – as Chief Whip Heath had attended Cabinet but had not been formally a member – after winning the October 1959 election.

In 1960 Macmillan appointed Heath Lord Privy Seal with responsibility for the negotiations to secure the UK's first attempt to join the European Economic Community (as the European Community was then called). After extensive negotiations, involving detailed agreements about the UK's agricultural trade with Commonwealth countries such as New Zealand, British entry was vetoed by the French President, Charles de Gaulle, at a press conference in January 1963 – much to the disappointment of Heath, who was a firm supporter of European common market membership for the United Kingdom. However, he would oversee a successful application when serving in a higher position a decade later.[12]

After this setback, a major humiliation for Macmillan's foreign policy, Heath was not a contender for the party leadership on Macmillan's retirement in October 1963. Under Prime Minister Sir Alec Douglas-Home he was President of the Board of Trade and Secretary of State for Industry, Trade and Regional Development, and oversaw the abolition of retail price maintenance.

Bilderberg

As is not unusual for a Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Heath attended the Bilderberg group (in 1963 and 1964) before being elected Conservative party leader.

Leader of the Opposition (1965–1970)

Ted Heath as Opposition Leader, 1966

After the Conservative Party lost the General Election of 1964, the defeated Douglas-Home changed the party leadership rules to allow for an MPs ballot vote, and then resigned. The following year, Heath – who was Shadow Chancellor at the time, and had recently won favourable publicity for leading the fight against Labour's Finance Bill – unexpectedly won the party's leadership contest, gaining 150 votes to Reginald Maudling's 133 and Enoch Powell's 15.[13] Heath became the Tories' youngest leader and retained office after the party's defeat in the General Election of 1966.

Heath sacked Enoch Powell from the Shadow Cabinet in April 1968, shortly after Powell made his controversial "Rivers of Blood" speech which criticised Commonwealth immigration to the United Kingdom. Heath never spoke to Powell again.[14]

Prime Minister (1970–1974)

With another general election approaching in 1970 a Conservative policy document emerged from the Selsdon Park Hotel that, according to some historians,[15] offered monetarist and free-market oriented policies as solutions to the country's unemployment and inflation problems. Heath stated that the Selsdon weekend only reaffirmed policies that had actually been evolving since he became leader of the Conservative Party. The prime minister, Harold Wilson, thought the document a vote-loser and dubbed it the product of Selsdon Man – after the supposedly prehistoric Piltdown Man[16] – in order to portray it as reactionary. But Heath's Conservative Party won the General Election of 1970 – 330 seats to Labour's 287.[17] It was the only occasion since 1945 in which one party with a working majority had been replaced in a single election by another party with an overall majority.

The new cabinet included Margaret Thatcher (Education and Science), William Whitelaw (Leader of the House of Commons) and the former prime minister Alec Douglas-Home (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs).

By January 1972, the unemployment rate reached a million, the highest level for more than two decades. Opposed to unemployment on moral grounds, Heath encouraged a famous "U-Turn" in economic policy that precipitated what became known as the "Barber boom." This was a two-range process involving the budgets of 1972 and 1973, the former of which pumped £2.5 billion into the economy in increased pensions and benefits and tax reductions. By early 1974, as a result of this Keynesian economic strategy, unemployment had fallen to under 550,000. The economic boom did not last, however, and the Heath Government implemented various cuts that led to the abandonment of policy goals such as a planned expansion of nursery education.

Heath attempted to reduce the power of the trade unions, which had so far managed to stop legal attempts to curb their power. His Industrial Relations Act 1971 set up a special court under the judge Lord Donaldson, whose imprisonment of striking dockworkers was a public relations disaster that the Thatcher Government of the 1980s would take pains to avoid repeating (relying instead on confiscating the assets of unions found to have broken new anti-strike laws). Heath's attempt to confront trade union power resulted in a political battle, hobbled as the government was by inflation and high unemployment. Especially damaging to the government's credibility were the two miners' strikes of 1972 and 1974, the latter of which resulted in much of the country's industry working a "Three-Day Week" in an attempt to conserve energy. The National Union of Mineworkers won its case but the energy shortages and the resulting breakdown of domestic consensus contributed to the eventual downfall of his government.

Edward Heath and Queen Elizabeth II with US President Richard Nixon and First Lady Pat Nixon during their 1970 visit to the UK

Foreign policy

Upon entering office in June 1970, Heath immediately set about trying to reverse Wilson's policy of ending Britain's military presence East of Suez.[18] Heath took the United Kingdom into Europe with the European Communities Act 1972 in October (21 Eliz. II c.68).[19] He publicly supported the massive US bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong in April 1972.[20]

In October 1973, he placed a British arms embargo on all combatants in the Arab-Israeli Yom Kippur war, which mostly affected the Israelis by preventing them obtaining spares for their Centurion tanks. Heath refused to allow US intelligence gathering from British bases in Cyprus, resulting in a temporary halt in the US signals intelligence tap.[21] He also refused permission for the US to use any British bases for resupply.

He favoured links with the People's Republic of China, visiting Mao Zedong in Beijing in 1974 and 1975 and remaining an honoured guest in China on frequent visits thereafter and forming a close relationship with Mao's successor Deng Xiaoping. Heath also maintained a good relationship with US President Richard Nixon and figures in the Iraqi Ba'ath Party.

Northern Ireland

Heath governed during a bloody period in the history of the Northern Ireland Troubles. On Bloody Sunday in 1972, 14 men were killed by British soldiers during a civil rights march in Derry. In early 1971 Heath sent in a Secret Intelligence Service officer, Frank Steele, to talk to the IRA and find out what common ground there was for negotiations. Steele had carried out secret talks with Jomo Kenyatta ahead of the British withdrawal from Kenya.[22] In July 1972, Heath permitted his Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, William Whitelaw, to hold unofficial talks in London with an IRA delegation by Seán Mac Stiofáin. In the aftermath of these unsuccessful talks, the Heath government pushed for a peaceful settlement with the democratic political parties.

The 1973 Sunningdale Agreement, which proposed a power-sharing deal, was strongly repudiated by many Unionists and the Ulster Unionist Party who withdrew its MPs at Westminster from the Conservative whip. The proposal was finally brought down by the Loyalist Ulster Workers' Council strike in 1974 (although by then Heath was no longer in office).

Heath was targeted by the IRA for introducing internment in Northern Ireland. In December 1974, the Balcombe Street ASU threw a bomb onto the first-floor balcony of his home in Wilton Street, Belgravia where it exploded. Heath had been conducting a Christmas carol concert at Broadstairs and arrived home 10 minutes after the bomb exploded. No one was injured in the attack, but a landscape portrait painted by Winston Churchill – given to Heath as a present – was damaged.[23]

In January 2003, Heath gave evidence to the Saville Inquiry and stated that he had never sanctioned unlawful lethal force in Northern Ireland.

Fall from power

1974 general election

Heath tried to bolster his government by calling a General Election for 28 February 1974, using the election slogan "Who governs Britain?". The result of the election was inconclusive with no party gaining an overall majority in the House of Commons; the Tories had the most votes but Labour had slightly more seats. Heath began negotiations with Jeremy Thorpe, leader of the Liberal Party but, when these failed, he resigned as Prime Minister on 4 March 1974, and was replaced by Wilson's minority Labour government, eventually confirmed, though with a tiny majority, in a second election in October of the same year.[24]

The Centre for Policy Studies, a Conservative group closely involved with the 1970 Selsdon document, began to formulate a new monetarist and free-market policy, initially led by Sir Keith Joseph. Although Margaret Thatcher was associated with the CPS she was initially seen as a potential moderate go-between by Heath's lieutenant James Prior.

Rise of Thatcher

Heath came to be seen as a liability by many Conservative MPs, party activists and newspaper editors. His personality was cold and aloof, annoying even to his friends. Alan Watkins observed in 1991 that his "brusqueness, his gaucherie, his lack of small or indeed any talk, his sheer bad manners" were among the factors costing him the support of Conservative backbenchers in the 1975 leadership election.[25]

He resolved to remain Conservative leader, even after two general election defeats in one year, and at first it appeared that by calling on the loyalty of his front bench colleagues he might prevail. In the weeks following the second election defeat, Heath came under tremendous pressure to concede a review of the rules and agreed to establish a commission to propose changes and to seek re-election. There was no clear challenger after Enoch Powell had left the party and Keith Joseph had ruled himself out after controversial statements implying that the working classes should be encouraged to use more birth control. Joseph's close friend and ally Margaret Thatcher, who believed an adherent to CPS philosophy should stand, joined the leadership contest in his place alongside the outsider Hugh Fraser. Aided by Airey Neave's campaigning amongst back-bench MPs – whose earlier approach to William Whitelaw had been rebuffed out of loyalty to Heath – she emerged as the only serious challenger.[26]

The new rules permitted new candidates to enter the ballot in a second round of voting should the first be inconclusive, so Thatcher's challenge was considered by some to be that of a stalking horse. Neave deliberately understated Thatcher's support in order to attract wavering votes from MPs who were keen to see Heath replaced even though they did not necessarily want Thatcher to replace him.[27][28]

On 4 February 1975, Thatcher defeated Heath in the first ballot by 130 votes to 119, with Fraser coming in a distant third with 16 votes. This was not a big enough margin to give Thatcher the 15% majority necessary to win on the first ballot, but having finished in second place Heath immediately resigned and did not contest the next ballot. His favoured candidate, William Whitelaw, lost to Thatcher in the second vote one week later (Thatcher 146, Whitelaw 79, Howe 19, Prior 19, Peyton 11).[29] The vote polarised along right-left lines, with in addition the region, experience and education of the MP having their effects. Heath and Whitelaw were stronger on the left, among Oxbridge and public school graduates, and in MPs from Northern England or Scotland.[30]

Thatcher had promised Heath a seat in the Shadow Cabinet, and planned to offer him whatever post he wanted. His advisers agreed he should wait at least six months, so he declined. He never relented and his refusal was called "the incredible sulk."[31] Thatcher nonetheless visited Heath at his home shortly after her election as leader, and had to stay for coffee with his PPS Tim Kitson so that the waiting press would not realise how brief the visit had been. Heath claimed that he had simply declined her request for advice about how to handle the press, whilst Thatcher claimed that she offered him any Shadow Cabinet position he wanted and asked him to lead the Conservative campaign in the upcoming EEC referendum, only to be rudely rebuffed.[32]

Later career (1975–2001)

Heath for many years persisted in criticism of the party's new ideological direction. At the time of his defeat he was still popular with rank and file Conservative members and was warmly applauded at the 1975 Party Conference. He played a leading role in the 1975 referendum campaign in which Britain voted to remain part of the EEC and remained active on the international stage, serving on the Brandt Commission investigation into developmental issues, particularly on North-South projects (Brandt Report).

His relations with Thatcher remained negative, and in 1979–80 he turned down her offers of ambassador to the U.S. and secretary-general of NATO.[33] He continued as a central figure on the left of the party and, at the 1981 Conservative Party conference, openly criticised the government's economic policies – namely monetarism, which had seen inflation rise from 13% in 1979 to 18% in 1980 then fall to 4% by 1983,[34] but had seen unemployment double from around 1,500,000 to a postwar high of 3,300,000 during that time.[35] In 1990 he flew to Baghdad to attempt to negotiate the release of aircraft passengers and other British nationals taken hostage when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. After Black Wednesday in 1992 he stated in the House of Commons that government should build a fund of reserves to counter currency speculators.

In the 1960s Heath had lived at a flat in the Albany, off Piccadilly; at the unexpected end of his premiership he took the flat of a Conservative MP Tim Kitson for some months. In February 1985 Heath moved to Salisbury, where he resided until his death 20 years later. In 1987 he was nominated in the election for the Chancellorship of the University of Oxford but lost to Roy Jenkins as a result of splitting the Conservative vote with Lord Blake.

Heath continued to serve as a back bench MP for the London constituency of Old Bexley and Sidcup and was, from 1992, the longest-serving MP ("Father of the House") and the oldest British MP. As Father of the House he oversaw the election of two Speakers of the Commons, Betty Boothroyd and Michael Martin. Heath was created a Knight of the Garter on 23 April 1992.[36] He retired from Parliament at the 2001 General Election]]. He and Tony Benn were the last two serving MPs to have been elected under George VI, with Heath being the only one to have served continuously since 1950.

Parliament broke with precedent by commissioning a bust of Heath while he was still alive.[37] The 1993 bronze work, by Martin Jennings, was moved to the Members' Lobby in 2002. On 29 April 2002, in his 86th year, he made a public appearance at Buckingham Palace alongside the then prime minister Tony Blair and the three other surviving former prime ministers, as well as relatives of deceased prime ministers, for a dinner which was part of the Golden Jubilee of Elizabeth II. This was to be one of his last public appearances, as the following year saw a decline in his health.[38]

Illness and death

Edward Heath (1916-2005) Statesman, Musician & Sailor

In August 2003, at the age of 87, Heath suffered a pulmonary embolism while on holiday in Salzburg, Austria. He never fully recovered, and owing to his declining health and mobility made very few public appearances in the final two years of his life. His last public appearance was at the unveiling of a set of gates to Sir Winston Churchill at St Paul's Cathedral on 30 November 2004.

In his final public statement Heath paid tribute to James Callaghan who died on 26 March 2005, saying that Callaghan had been "...a major fixture in the political life of this country during his long and varied career. When in opposition he never hesitated to put firmly his party's case. When in office he took a smoother approach towards his supporters and opponents alike...We have lost a major figure from our political landscape".[39]

Heath died from pneumonia on the evening of 17 July 2005, at the age of 89. He was cremated on 25 July 2005 at a funeral service attended by 1,500 people. The day after his death the BBC Parliament channel showed the BBC results coverage of the 1970 election. A memorial service was held for Heath in Westminster Abbey on 8 November 2005 which was attended by two thousand people. Three days later his ashes were interred in Salisbury Cathedral. In a tribute to him, the then Prime Minister Tony Blair stated "He was a man of great integrity and beliefs he held firmly from which he never wavered".[40]

Arundells

In January 2006, it was announced that Heath had left his house and contents to the value of £5 million in his will, most of it to a charitable foundation to conserve his 18th-century house, Arundells, opposite Salisbury Cathedral, as a museum to his career. The house is open to the public for guided tours from March to October, and displayed is a large collection of personal effects as well as Heath's personal library, photo collections and paintings by Winston Churchill.[41]

In his will Heath, who had had no descendants, left only two legacies: £20,000 to his brother's widow, and £2,500 to his housekeeper.[42]

Sexuality

Heath never married. He had been expected to marry childhood friend Kay Raven, who reportedly tired of waiting and married an RAF officer whom she met on holiday in 1950. In a four-sentence paragraph of his memoirs, Heath claimed that he had been too busy establishing a career after the war and had "perhaps ... taken too much for granted". In a 1998 TV interview with Michael Cockerell, Heath said that he had kept her photograph in his flat for many years afterwards.[43]

His interest in music kept him on friendly terms with female musicians including pianist Moura Lympany. When Heath was Prime Minister she was approached by the Conservative MP Tufton Beamish, who said: "Moura, Ted must get married. Will you marry him?" She said she would have done but was in love with someone else.[44] She later said the most intimate thing Heath had done was to put his arm around her shoulder.[45]

Bernard Levin wrote at the time in The Observer, forgetting two other prime minsters who were bachelors with no known romantic interests, that the UK had to wait until the emergence of the permissive society for a prime minister who was a virgin.[46] In later life, according to his official biographer Philip Ziegler, Heath was "apt to relapse into morose silence or completely ignore the woman next to him and talk across her to the nearest man".

John Campbell, who published a biography of Heath in 1993, devoted four pages to a discussion of the evidence concerning Heath's sexuality. Whilst acknowledging that Heath was often assumed by the public to be gay, not least because it is "nowadays ... whispered of any bachelor" he found "no positive evidence" that this was so "except for the faintest unsubstantiated rumour" (the footnote refers to a mention of a "disturbing incident" at the beginning of the Second World War in a 1972 biography by Andrew Roth). Campbell ultimately concluded that the most significant aspect of Heath's sexuality was his complete repression of it.

Brian Coleman, the Conservative Party London Assembly member for Barnet and Camden, claimed in 2007 that Heath, in order to protect his career, had stopped cottaging in the 1950s. Coleman said it was "common knowledge" among Conservatives that Heath had been given a stern warning by police when he underwent background checks for the post of Privy Councillor.[47] Heath's biographer Philip Ziegler wrote in 2010 that Coleman was able to provide "little or no evidence" to back up this statement, that no man had ever claimed to have had a sexual relationship with Heath, nor was any trace of homosexuality to be found in his papers, and that "those who knew him well” insist that he had no such inclination. He believes Heath to have been asexual.[48]

Paedophilia

Jimmy Savile and Edward Heath rehearsing for Savile's BBC TV show Jim'll Fix It in 1980

In August 2015 the Sunday People reported that Edward Heath had backed ­paedophile Jimmy Savile for a royal honour – two years after the previous Prime Minister warned the Queen against it. Savile was passed over for an MBE a month before the former Conservative leader moved into No10. But less than two years after Heath took office, the TV presenter – exposed after his death as a serial child-sex abuser – was awarded the higher honour of an OBE. Heath later appeared on Savile’s BBC TV show Jim’ll Fix It when it was one of the nation’s favourites.

Government files show that in May 1970 the Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson did “not wish to submit the name of Mr Jimmy Savile for an MBE in the Birthday List”. Heath took office weeks later after a June General Election and stayed in power until 1974. And records reveal how Savile was put forward for an OBE midway through Heath’s stint as PM. The award was made in the New Year’s Honours List of 1972. Top of the Pops presenter Savile ­officially received the honour in March of that year. The words: “The Prime Minister would not wish to submit the name of Mr Jimmy Savile for an MBE in the Birthday List,” appeared in a heavily censored note to civil servant Sir Robert Armstrong dated May 5 1970, when Wilson was still in power. The notes goes on: “He would, ­however, be ready to consider his name again for a future list.”

Savile, who died in 2011 aged 84, became a Sir in 1992 following ­repeated attempts by Margaret Thatcher to have him knighted. The newspaper also revealed that Heath was present at more than half a dozen Westminster meetings of the notorious Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) which was formed to persuade politicians to lower the age of sexual consent to only ten. The revelations raise fresh doubts over the character of Heath, who died aged 89 in 2005. A source said:

“While nothing has been proven against Heath, these sort of links show why the fullest possible investigation is necessary. The authorities must find out if there was any sinister reason for this apparent U-turn over honours to be awarded to Jimmy Savile.”

The relationship between Savile and Heath is being probed by North Yorkshire Police who said last week they were “undertaking a ­comprehensive search of force systems to ­assess if there is any ­information or intelligence held in relation to Mr Heath”. A dossier of files compiled by former Labour minister Baroness Castle showed Heath was present at Westminster meetings ­with paedophile rights campaigners from the PIE group. Heath is said to have attended at least a quarter of the 30 or so monthly or bi-weekly meetings. Heath's name is said to have appeared on minutes of the private gatherings, also apparently attended by other MPs, along with scoutmasters and headteachers. But the Castle files have been ­missing since the mid 1980s. Baroness Castle, a former MP for Blackburn and Euro MP for Greater Manchester, died in 2002. It was claimed by Savile’s nephew Guy Marsden last week that a boy of 14 was abused by Heath at a London party. The unnamed victim is said to have been targeted by the politician just over a year before he became Prime Minister after the boy was picked up by Savile. The man claims he ­recognised his alleged abuser as Heath only when he saw the politician on TV several years later. Earlier it was revealed a man had come forward to claim to police he had been abused by Heath at the age of 12 in a flat in Mayfair, central London, after he was picked up as a ­hitch-hiker when he ran away from home in 1961. London’s Metropolitan Police said on Tuesday that it had been decided “there were no lines of inquiry that could proportionately be pursued” in relation to that rape allegation. Heath’s supporters have been highly critical of the allegations being made against him. Former Tory MP Matthew Parris today slammed the “idiocy” surrounding the claims. But Heath is the highest-profile figure to emerge in allegations of a VIP paedophile ring.[49]

Sex abuse allegations

Ten years after Sir Edward's death, allegations of child sexual abuse against him were received by eight police forces.[50]

Baron Armstrong of Ilminster, who as Robert Armstrong was PM Edward Heath's private secretary, said he had "never felt a whiff of sexuality about Ted Heath, whether it was in relation to women, men or children".[51] On 14 August 2015, Lord Armstrong told Radio 4's Today Programme the allegations were "so totally uncharacteristic and unlikely" that he did not believe them to be true:

"My incredulity is based on the way of life of a man and about his character and his personality.
"When he was at home he had two policemen on the gate, he had the personal protection officer from Scotland Yard in the house, he never drove a car himself, he always had an official driver.
"It just seems to me highly unlikely that he could have escaped all that to do the kind of thing that is described. I knew him for 35 years, I worked very closely with him while he was prime minister, and we remained friends for the rest of his life.
"You usually detect some sense of sexuality when you are friends or work closely with them. I think he was completely asexual. There are some people like that and I think he was one of them."[52]

9 July 1916|17 July 2005| 

Events Participated in

EventStartEndLocation(s)
Bilderberg/196329 March 196331 March 1963France
Cannes
Hotel Martinez
Bilderberg/196731 March 19672 April 1967St John's College (Cambridge)
UK
England
Bilderberg/19699 May 196911 May 1969Denmark
Hotel Marienlyst
Elsinore

 

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References

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  2. Heath, Edward. The Course of My Life. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1998, p58
  3. "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 18 July 2005 (pt. 6)". 2005. Retrieved 30 March 2009.Page Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css must have content model "Sanitized CSS" for TemplateStyles (current model is "plain text").
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  11. Palmer, Bernard Gadfly for God London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1991 pp197
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  17. access to history - Britain 1945-2007
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  24. David E. Butler et al. The British General Election of February 1974 (1975); David E. Butler et al. The British General Election of October 1974 (1975)
  25. Watkins 1991, pp174-5
  26. Moore, Thatcher vol 1 ch 11–12
  27. John Campbell, The Grocer's Daughter
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  49. "Edward Heath fixed it for Jimmy Savile to receive OBE and attended Paedophile Information Exchange meetings"
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  52. "Sir Edward Heath was completely asexual, says adviser"
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