In an interview with John Harris
H[ealey's] most incisive character-sketch comes when we discuss the very different mischief wrought by the SDP, and the anticlimactic career of that short-lived political poster-boy David Owen. "When he was born," says Healey, "all the good fairies gave him every virtue: 'You'll be beautiful, you'll be intelligent, you'll have charm and charisma.' And the bad fairy came along and tapped him on the shoulder and said, 'But you'll be a shit.' That was his trouble."Has anyone who has met Owen ever thought differently?
In the mid-1980s John Tomlinson was chosen as the rapporteur of the European Parliament to negotiate with Sweden over their future membership of the EU.
Tragically in 1986 the leader of the Swedish Social Democrats, Olaf Palme, was assassinated. As European Parliament rapporteur Tomlinson was invited to the state funeral. As a speaker of Swedish Tomlinson was popular with the Swedish Social Democratic Party and he was given a prominent seat for the ceremony. The official representative of the British state, David Owen, was given a seat several rows behind Tomlinson.
Owen and Tomlinson had a history as they had both served under Anthony Crosland in the Foreign Office in 1976, Owen being a junior minister and Tomlinson being a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State. Being made to sit behind Tomlinson, in a less prominent position, made Owen ask Tomlinson "What the fuck are you doing here in front of me?"
Such is the manner of Dr Death.