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Last Updated: Sunday, 17 July 2005, 21:40 GMT 22:40 UK
Sir Edward Heath dies aged 89

Sir Edward Heath
Rt Hon Sir Edward Heath KG MBE, 1916-2005

Colleagues and former opponents are paying their tributes and preparing their assessments of Sir Edward Heath who has died tonight.

He rose from humble origins - his mother was a maid, his father was a carpenter - to the top of a Conservative Party which had previously tended to look more to the aristocracy for its leaders.

His time in Downing Street began in 1970 when he scored a surprise election victory over Harold Wilson. He left Number 10 less than four years later in February 1974. After striking miners had forced the Government to introduce the Three Day Week, Prime Minister Heath called an early election and asked the country to decide who governs? The outcome was that he didn't govern anymore.

While his domestic record was characterised by crisis, he left a major and enduring change to Britain's relationship with the world. Of the generation that was deeply affected by fighting in World War Two - Colonel Heath helped liberate the continent from the Nazis - his proudest achievement was to take Britain into the European Economic Community.

A more sensitive man than his public face tended to suggest, possibly the bitterest day of his political life was when he was supplanted as leader of the Conservative Party by Margaret Thatcher. Possibly one of the happiest was when she in turn was removed as leader by the party.

Andrew Rawnsley spoke to Lord Carrington, who was Defence Secretary in Sir Edward's Cabinet. For what will history remember the former premier?

No-one saw at closer hand the successes and the tribulations of Sir Edward's premiership than Douglas Hurd who was his political secretary throughout his time as both Leader of the Opposition in the Sixties and then at Number 10 in the early Seventies.

Lord Hurd joined us live by telephone. What was it like to word inside Number Ten for Ted Heath?

Andrew Rawnsley talks to Lord Carrington

Andrew Rawnsley talks to Lord Hurd

Obituary: Sir Edward Heath
17 Jul 05 |  UK Politics
Tales from the cutting room
17 Jul 05 |  The Westminster Hour


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