|Position||17th Prime Minister of Georgeland|
|Term in office||September 9, 1970-June 17, 1973|
|Preceded by||Thomas Richardson|
|Succeeded by||Bradley Van Goen|
|Political party||Labour Party|
|Total time in office||2 years, 9 months, 17 days (17th)|
|Born||May 16, 1918|
The Rt. Hon. Victor Duncan Howard (b. May 16, 1918 - September 11, 1998) was the 17th Prime Minister of the United Islands of Georgeland. He was elected in 1970 as the leader of the first Labour national government for twelve years. His leadership lasted just three years and ended in forced retirement after Howard suffered a stroke. Ironically, Howard made a full recovery and lived another twenty-five years, though he never returned to politics. Howard's election marked the beginning of the domination of left-wing governments in Georgeland.
Birth and early career
Victor Duncan Howard was born in Santa Christina in 1918, but moved to Lylecity at a young age. Howard was the third son of British migrants - his two elder brothers were both born in the United Kingdom. Howard's father was an engine driver and Howard himself left school at fifteen to join his father on the railways. He became a union organiser and put himself through night classes, where he studied history and literature, subjects for which he had a lifelong passion.
Howard joined the Labour Party in 1935 and campaigned for Fenton Thomas at the 1938 election. Howard, like Thomas, was a Socialist and pacifist who believed that Georgeland should remain uninvolved in a European war. By 1941, however, the tide of war had left Georgeland vulnerable to attack by Japan, and subsequently declared war on Japan and Germany after Pearl Harbour. Howard, like large numbers of young men, volunteered for military service. He later wrote that the attack on Pearl Harbour and the direct threat of Japanese attack had changed his mind about the war, and he believed that military action would regrettably be needed.
Howard joined the Navy as an Able Seaman and served in a non-commissioned role throughout World War II. He saw action in the Pacific, and took part in the Battle of the Coral Sea, in which he was wounded. The wound became infected and, though he survived, the wound had adverse affects on his health for the rest of his life.
After the war, Howard was stationed in Japan until 1947, when he was discharged and returned to Georgeland. He resumed his career as a union organiser.
In 1950, Howard was approached to stand for Parliament by the Labour Party. He accepted and was easily elected to the seat of Lyle at the 1950 general election. In the House of Commons, Howard found himself in opposition (Labour had lost the election) and became frustrated by the inability of the party to make laws or enact its agenda. He became convinced that Socialism was the problem, and that the party's leftist manifesto needed to be "tamed" in order to make it a viable political force. In 1954, Labour returned to power but the government suffered from severe internal dissent between reformers, including Howard, and the socialist "old guard". Howard worked tirelessly to reform party policy but had little success until 1958, when the party was again defeated.
During his period as a backbench MP, Howard took a correspondence course in English Literature. In 1957 he recieved a Bachelors Degree in the subject.
In 1960 Nathan Keegan retired as Labour leader and was replaced by Peter Stephens. Stephens made Howard his party's spokesman on International Development, and promoted him to Shadow Minister for External Affairs in 1964. By now, the 46-year-old Howard was seen as a potential leader. Howard was one of the most prominent and influential opponents of the Vietnam War and his fiery attacks on the war in the House in 1965-1966 led directly to an anti-war movement in Georgeland, dedicated to keeping the country out of the fighting.
In January 1967, after his defeat at the previous year's election, Stephens retired as Labour leader. Howard was elected unopposed to replace him.
As Opposition Leader, Howard continued his pressure to keep Georgeland from going to Vietnam. He also modernised his party's structure by eliminating many of the notorious "policy committees" and concentrating control of the party with the parliamentary caucus. He also developed a social democratic policy agenda which led, along with the Conservative government's percieved disunity and integrity, to a sweeping Labour victory in the general election of 1970.
Prime Minister 1970-1973
Howard's term as Prime Minister was short-lived. After twelve years in opposition Labour had plenty to do, but a hostile Senate and Howard's erratic health frustrated much of that agenda. However, the government made a unilateral commitment never to commit to Vietnam, and dismantled many of the government agencies created by the previous government. The Howard government established the National Arts Council and, most significantly, laid the groundwork the National Health Service, which remains to this day (though it was not until 1976 that the NHS would become firmly established). His government also decriminalised homosexuality and legislated a series of measures on womens' rights. He also opened Georgeland to further immigration from India and Africa.
Retirement and health concerns
Howard had never been fully well since his wartime injury, which resulted in a string of constant health concerns. His primary concern was back pain, which could sometimes be so crippling it left him unable to move for days at a time. He also suffered from chronic arthritis in his hands, despite his relatively young age. By mid-1972, Howard had been confined to a wheelchair after losing all feeling in his legs. His health was erratic, fluctuating wildly, sometimes during a period of hours. Colleagues who knew Howard have suggested he also may have suffered from Bipolar disorder.
In early 1973, Howard's health threatened to affect the government's re-election. His bouts of temporary paralysis put a great strain on the government, though he continued his workload and regularly attended Parliament. In April 1973 Howard collapsed while speaking at the Despatch Box - this is recorded in his memoirs as the incident that finally convinced him to stand down.
On June 16, 1973, Howard officially resigned as Prime Minister. The following day, Defence Minister Bradley Van Goen was chosen unopposed to succeed Howard as Prime Minister. Howard remained in the House of Commons until the 1974 election, though he spoke rarely.
Party elder statesman
At the age of 55, Howard always felt he had been betrayed by his body and that he could have done more. He devoted himself to the Labour cause in his retirement, and, when health permitted, spoke at Labour campaign events throughout the 1970s and 1980s. He was said to be "shattered" when his successor Van Goen was declared dead after disappearing in Switzerland, though he formed a close friendship with Noel Quarton who succeeded Van Goen as PM.
By 1985, with the death of Fenton Thomas, Howard had become the undisputed figurehead of Labour politics, as the only surviving ex-PM from his party. Ironically, his health had improved considerably since his retirement, and into his sixties and seventies he exercised regularly. In 1990, he said in a TV interview that he felt so fit he could return to politics. This sparked rumours of a comeback, but Howard, then in his early seventies, never seriously considered such an event.
Howard met regularly with Quarton and the two considered each other close friends. He was less close to Campbell Rhodes, whom he saw as an upstart and as "lacking substance". After the 1996 abortion debate, however, Howard praised the Rhodes government for its vision and admitted he had been wrong.
Howard's memoirs were published in 1997.
Victor Howard died on September 11, 1998, of heart failure. His state funeral in Lylecity was attended by then-President Thomas Andrews, who spoke of Howard's vision and integrity, and of how he was let down only by the frailness of his form.
Howard is credited in Georgeland today with being the "great reformer" who allowed the Labour Party to return to power. His greatest credit, however, is the re-aligning of Georgeland towards the political left. From the time Howard came to power, Georgeland would be governed by Labour or its successors for almost all of the next thirty-seven years.
Howard married Elizabeth Lamb, a nurse, in 1946. Both were stationed in Japan as part of the allied occupation, though they had met at a forces party in California in 1944. Elizabeth was ten years his junior - she was only just eighteen when the couple married. Victor and Elizabeth Howard had five children - Roger (b. 1948), now a union organiser and climate change activist, Patrick (b. 1950), Jonathan (b. 1952), Mary (b. 1955) and Gareth (b. 1957).
Howard's grandson Mark Howard (b. 1976) is a Georgeland cricketer and sports educator. His grand-nephew Jordan Mitchum (b. 1980) is a television actor.
|Prime Minister of Georgeland|
September 9, 1970 - June 17, 1973
Bradley Van Goen
|Leader of the Georgeland Opposition|
January 15, 1967-September 9, 1970