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Edward Heath

I have always had a hidden wish, a frustrated desire, to run a hotel.

Edward "Ted" Heath (1916-2005) was British Prime Minister from 1970 to 1974 and a pro-European Conservative.

"Sailor Ted" as he was also known (other nicknames included "The Grocer" or "Grocer Heath", after negotiating for the UK at a food prices conference) took Britain into the EEC, mainly because Charles de Gaulle wasn't around any more to stop him.

His early career saw him as President of the Oxford Union (the University's debating society and a fairly frequent stepping stone on the road to Downing Street) and an opponent of appeasement. He became the first elected leader of his party

Heath's time in office saw The Troubles escalate, a lot of strikes and the Three-Day Week, caused by the 1973 Yom Kippur War and resultant oil crisis. The last led to him calling an election, which resulted in a Hung Parliament with the Conservatives having the most votes, but Labour the most seats. Harold Wilson became PM.

Heath spent no less than 51 years in the House of Commons, retiring in 2001. His successor in that seat, Derek Conway, only spent nine following a scandal which essentially involved registering his relatives as employees and paying them for work they didn't do.

He never got on well with Margaret Thatcher (who had served under him as Minister for Education and Science), and after she succeeded him as Conservative leader he went into a decades-long sulk aimed at her. Heath openly criticized her economic policies.

Keen on sailing (as his nickname should imply), he was also an amateur musician responsible for the installation of a grand piano in Number 10, and on a few occasions conducted orchestras.

In his youth he was in World War II and once had to organise a firing squad. Some of the Soviet leaders blew this incident out of proportion and thought he had been The Political Officer. Before that, he traveled Europe, attending the 1937 Nuremberg rally, where he met Hitler, Goring, and Himmler ("the most evil man I have ever met"), visited besieged Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War, and Germany again - indeed, he had to cycle to Holland in order to return to the UK, crossing the border hours before it was closed.

He also never married.

In fiction:
  • Private Eye's particular Heath parody was "Heathco", in which Heath ran a grocery store. The fact that Margaret Thatcher's father was (actually) a grocer meant they had much fun pretending Thatcher was Heath's daughter (particularly considering how the two didn't get on).
  • The Beatles' "Taxman" namechecks both him and his rival, then-Prime Minister Harold Wilson.
  • In Fear, Loathing and Gumbo on the Campaign Trail '72, economic recovery leads to him narrowly winning the 1974 election with a reduced majority and he remains PM, instituting authoritarian policies in response to The Troubles heating up and advocating a European defence alliance due to America being gripped with political strife. He assigns Margaret Thatcher to an anti-terrorism cabinet post, probably in the hope it will tarnish her career. He then badly loses the 1977 election to Denis Healey's Labour after failing to prevent terrorist atrocities such as the assassination of the Queen.
  • Spitting Image featured him from time to time, notably in the cabaret parody where he is seen sadly shaking his head as the Conservative cabinet sings Tomorrow Belongs to Me and Exchequers (a home for retired Prime Ministers) where he annoys the others with his organ-playing.

Harold WilsonThe Men Of Downing StreetJames Callaghan

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