Born in Keighley, Yorkshire in 1917, Denis Winston Healey was educated at Bradford Grammar School and Balliol College, Oxford.
He served in the army during World War II and became Labour MP for Southeast Leeds in 1952.
From 1945 to 1952 he was secretary of the international department of the Labour Party and from 1952 took part in many international conferences.
He was a British delegate to the Western Union and the Council of Europe 1963 – 1964. From 1954 to 1961 he was a member of the Fabian Society executive.
He became secretary of state for Defence in 1964, a post he held until Labour’s defeat in 1970. During this time he was in charge of the reduction of British forces east of Suez.
He was opposition spokesperson on foreign affairs from 1970 to 1972 and on economic affairs from 1972 to 1974, and served as Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1974 to 1979.
In 1976 he contested the party leadership, losing to James Callaghan, and again in 1980, losing to Michael Foot, to whom he was deputy leader between 1980 and 1983.
In 1987 he resigned from the shadow cabinet. He published an autobiography, The Time of My Life, in 1989. He was made a life peer in 1992.