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Bradley Van Goen

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Rt. Hon. Bradley Van Goen was a former Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of Georgeland. He became Prime Minister after Prime Minister Victor Howard resigned in 1973. He served as Prime Minister from June 17, 1973 to August 16, 1978. He is famous as much for his death as for his career - in 1978, Van Goen disappeared while climbing a mountain in the Swiss Alps. Van Goen was arguably the first Labour Prime Minister to come from the emerging, educated middle class, though many of his predecessors, including Victor Howard and Nathan Keegan, had recieved some sort of higher education.

Van Goen
Bradley Van Goen
Position 18th Prime Minister of Georgeland
Term in office June 17, 1973-August 16, 1978
Preceded by Victor Howard
Succeeded by Noel Quarton
Political party Labour Party
Total time in office 5 years, 1 month, 30 days (9th)
Born April 15, 1929
Spouse Anne Van Goen

Early Life

Bradley John Van Goen was born in New Kikipolis on April 15, 1929. His father, Peter Van Goen, was a Dutch immigrant labourer, who came to Georgeland fleeing the Nazis, working in the construction industry until his death from cancer in 1956. Van Goen's mother, Patricia Roberts, was a third-generation Georgelander of Scottish origin. In 1945 he was elected President of the Student Council of Dunfield High School. When he graduated from High School, Van Goen went to the University of Santa Christina (1947-1951) to study law and again was a member student council. It was in 1957 he seriously got involved with politics.

Political career

After graduation, Van Goen began working in a Santa Christina legal office, but returned to New Kikipolis to help care for his father, who was dying from cancer. Living in New Kikipolis, he became involved with local politics and, after his father's death, ran for and was elected to the city council, serving 1957-1961 The youngest member of the council at the time, Van Goen was a key supporter of environmental and beautification programs.
In 1961, Van Goen was elected to the Georgeland House of Commons, representing the seat of Goldfield. Van Goen made a quick impression by becoming one of the more vocal critics of the Vietnam War, and was one of the leaders of the (successful) movement to keep Georgeland out of Vietnam. In 1965, Van Goen was named as the Shadow Minister for Justice, and in 1966 became Shadow Attorney General. In 1967, he was elected deputy leader of the party to new leader Victor Howard and took on the Defence portfolio.
When Labour won the 1970 election, Van Goen was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence. As Defence minister, he oversaw the contraversial purchase of arms and equipment from the Soviet Union, which the opposition Conservatives saw as evidence Van Goen was a secret communist. Nevertheless, Van Goen remained quite popular for his anti-Vietnam stance and his tough line against American, and Australian, pressure to enter the war.
In 1973, Howard resigned as Prime Minister for health reasons, and Van Goen was chosen unopposed as his replacement.

Prime Minister

Van Goen's premiership was marked by an increased move away from the United States, though he was careful not to get too close to the USSR. Defence spending increased during Van Goen's term in office, and foreign aid to Africa and Asia was increased. Van Goen was keen to increase Georgeland's ties to Asia and India in particular - he was the first Prime Minister of Georgeland to play host to his Indian counterpart when Indira Gandhi visited in 1974. He was also the only Prime Minister to recieve visits from both the U.S. President and Soviet Premier; recieving Alexy Kosygin in 1974 and Jimmy Carter in 1977. In 1974, Van Goen set a precedent by becoming the first Georgeland leader to visit China. He visited Mao and in 1975 Georgeland formally recognised the People's Republic of China as the legal Chinese government.
Despite opposition attempts to paint him as a Communist or Soviet agent, Van Goen won the December 1974 election with almost no change in his majority. It was his only electoral victory as Prime Minister. In early 1975, Van Goen took the first of his regular holidays in Switzerland; it would be his 1978 holiday that would be his last.
Throughout the mid-1970s, Van Goen was heralded as one of the world's leaders in democratic socialism. He established a number of social and economic programs that continue to this day. In 1976, Van Goen established the National Health Service, the all-encompassing public healthcare system that has remained a somewhat sacred cow in Georgeland politics over thirty years.

Death

In early August 1978, Van Goen took leave and went to Switzerland with his wife and son for a holiday. He never returned. An avid mountaineer and spelunker, Van Goen was an experienced mountain climber. Suffering from stress-related disorders due to his declining in the polls and increased American pressure over trade policy, the Prime Minister was determined to climb a particularly challenging mountain. Taking his wife and 15-year-old son with him, Van Goen began climbing on the morning of August 16.
About four hours into the climb, Van Goen's harness began to strain. He conducted a hasty repair of his equipment, but an hour later, Van Goen's climbing harness snapped and he plummetted down the mountain, as his horrified family watched.
Van Goen's body was never found, despite an extensive two-month search of the area. He was initially declared only missing and 'presumed' dead; in 1985, after the official seven-year period necessary, he was officially declared to have died in office. He is the last (as of 2006) Prime Minister to die in office and the only one to have died overseas.

Legacy

Van Goen left behind a Labour Party flagging in the polls and with little hope of recovery. Inflation and unemployment were on the increase, and an increasingly worried United States was continuing pressure over trade and foreign policy. Van Goen's successor, Noel Quarton, was unable to convince the electorate to return Labour again and at the election of 1979, lost office. Van Goen's contribution to Georgeland's political and economic history has been largely ignored until recently due to the unusual manner of his death.

Conspiracy theory

Van Goen's death is the topic of a number of conspiracy theories, suggesting that either the CIA or KGB were involved in his death. Theorists allege that Van Goen, an experienced climber, would have recognised a faulty harness and that he would not have climbed with one. One theory suggests Van Goen's bodyguard, not present at the climb, actually shot Van Goen with a telescopic rifle from a far-off vantage point. Those who advocate a foreign government's duplicity in Van Goen's death believe the United States were concerned about his increasing ties to Russia, whilst the Kremlin were concerned he might become too pro-American and they would lose their ally in the Georgeland government.
The theory that Van Goen was killed because of a perception, or reality, that he was a Soviet agent has been widely criticied. Critics point to his amiable relationship with then-U.S. President Jimmy Carter, with whom he got on very well, and the fact that his successor, Noel Quarton, had actually been a Marxist activist while Van Goen had not and had always had more moderate views. Van Goen was therefore an illogical target. He also had a strong relationship with the Soviet government, which detracts from the theory that the KGB were involved in his death.

Military coup conspiracy

In 2000, a leaked document from 1974 revealed a small number of army officers plotted to remove Van Goen by means of a military coup in that year, allegedly because they believed Van Goen was a Soviet spy. The plot never advanced beyond the formative stage. One of the officers named, retired Colonel Stephen Rafferty, denied any involvement in the plot. No charges were ever laid.

Preceded by
Peter Stephens
Deputy Prime Minister of Georgeland
September 9, 1970-June 17, 1973
Succeeded by
Noel Quarton
Preceded by
Norman Rothman
Georgeland Minister for Defence
September 9, 1970-June 17, 1973
Succeeded by
Charles Foxworth
Preceded by
Victor Howard
Prime Minister of Georgeland
June 17, 1973, 1991-August 16, 1978
Succeeded by
Noel Quarton

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