There is always a temptation when the last figure of a particular era in any field dies to assert that they were the last of their kind; that people of their sort (in that field at least) no longer exist and that things are all so very different now. There can be no room for such mawkish faux-reflection in the case of the now (alas) late Denis Healey, as there have seldom been political figures as entirely unique and as thoroughly themselves as him. Politics may well have had more ‘personalities’ in the Post War era than it does today, but it was never exactly overflowing with sharp-tongued intellectuals with a propensity for the theatrical (this is a man who sometimes played the piano – whilst pulling silly faces – at election rallies), ecclectic interests outside politics and a total disregard for the artificial chumminess that has often characterised British public life. And on top of that he was actually good at his job. The only comparable figure who comes to mind, Paul Keating, was of a later generation and from another country.
And let us not forget those eyebrows. Let us never forget those eyebrows.