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The opinions expressed on this page are mine alone. Any similarities to the views of my employer are completely coincidental.

Friday, 14 March 2014

RIP Tony Benn

Just as with the passing of Saint Bob Crow all sorts of former political enemies will be seizing the opportunity of a soundbite. Despite the fact they never had a kind word for him while he was alive, now that Tony Benn is dead they will feel the need to express their deep, and heretofore hidden, respect for  him. The obvious response is really this sketch from NTNON.

I only saw  him in the flesh once, when he spoke at David Butler's Friday evening British Politics seminar. This would have been in the mid 80s when he was still the darling of the left. I have to be honest and say that the impression he left on me was that he was  slightly bonkers. Much of what he said was a  paranoid  conspiracy theory partly about American and NATO goings on in the Republic of Ireland. Who knows, maybe it was true or maybe he had just been listening to Christy Moore's  Knock Song.

For my generation Benn was the focus of forces that made the Labour Party unelectable for more than a decade and the left powerless to resist the march of the neo-liberals. The ramifications of this for what the Labour Party has become are obvious for all to see. It would be absurd to hold Benn personally responsible for everything that followed from 1979, but he did play his part in destroying the credibility of social democratic politics in the UK.

An interesting and sincere man? Yes (probably). A great politician and statesman. No.

1 comment:

Primula Monkey said...

But, in his later years he did wear cardies and smoke a pipe to the point of caricature whilst churning out an incessantly irrelevant spew of diaries to an extent that let the London meeja bypass his actual politics and instead focus on reinventing him as an "elder statesman".

And did you know he gave up being a Viscount/minty biscuit for socialism? No innate forelock tugging in how that's ever been presented, no siree bob.

(am waiting to see what lovely Neil Kinnock has to say)