Time no healer as Heath delivers birthday snub

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Indy Politics
The guest list for a month of celebrations for the 80th birthday of Sir Edward Heath will include the Queen, the Majors, and the former Labour Prime Minister, Lord Callaghan. But the one person missing from the VIP list is Baroness Thatcher.

Time has done nothing to cure the bad blood between Sir Edward and Lady Thatcher, who replaced him as leader of the Conservative Party in 1975 and then refused to make him Foreign Secretary.

By refusing to invite Lady Thatcher to his 80th birthday celebrations, Sir Edward is getting even for her failure to invite him to her 70th birthday party.

Her absence will be most keenly felt at the high point of the celebrations, a dinner at 10 Downing Street on 17 July hosted by the Majors with the Queen and leading Conservative contemporaries from the Heath government, including Lord Carr and Lord Barber, two former chancellors of the Exchequer. "Thatcher didn't invite him to her 70th birthday. There is no way he is going to invite her to his," said one of Sir Edward's friends.

She will also be left off the guest list for a banquet for 400 guests at the Savoy on 18 July. The politicians at the gathering will include Lord Jenkins, the former SDP leader, and Lord Callaghan, the last Labour prime minister, who was defeated by Margaret Thatcher in 1979. James Molyneaux, the past leader of the Ulster Unionists, is also on the guest list, burying the hatchet over the abolition of the Stormont executive which led to a rift during Sir Edward's term of office. Euro-sceptics will be conspicuous by their absence.

The partying for Sir Edward's 80th birthday starts today with a concert that he will conduct in Wiesbaden, Germany. He will fly back for a party in his Old Bexley and Sidcup constituency tomorrow, organised by the Tory MP Bob Dunn.

The former prime minister will also conduct a gala concert at Salisbury Cathedral with the English Chamber Orchestra on 13 July, to be followed the next day by a luncheon at his home in the Cathedral Close for friends, including Peter Brooke, a former party chairman.

By coincidence, the state visit of President Nelson Mandela coincides with Sir Edward's birthday next Tuesday, and he has been invited to Buckingham Palace by the Queen for a state banquet. It was unclear whether Lady Thatcher would be there.