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March 14, 2014

Labour politician Tony Benn dies aged 88

Labour politician Tony Benn dies aged 88

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Tony Benn in 2007.
Image: Isujosh.

Tony Benn, British Labour Party politician and left-wing campaigner, died this morning at his home in west London at age 88. Benn’s health had been declining since a stroke left him hospitalized in 2012.

Benn’s father and both grandfathers were MPs (Members of Parliament) in the Liberal party; his father defected to Labour and became a Cabinet Minister. Benn grew up in London and was a pupil at Westminster School before studying politics, philosophy and economics at New College, Oxford. During World War II, he served in the Royal Air Force for two years, then went back to Oxford to finish his studies. He worked as a BBC radio producer.

Tony Benn became an MP in November of 1950 and was a member of the cabinets of Harold Wilson and James Callaghan. In 1981, Benn ran for deputy leadership of the Labour Party but lost. He also had a role in shaping the 1983 Labour manifesto. He went on to become a diarist and speaker, as well as joining in the anti-war movement and speaking out strongly against the Iraq war. The Sun newspaper once referred to him as “the most dangerous man in Britain” because of his strong left-wing political views.

Benn’s son Hilary also joined Labour and is an MP for Leeds Central. He distanced himself from his father’s views by saying he was “a Benn, not a Bennite”.

Benn’s children released a statement following his passing: “We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to all the NHS [National Health Service] staff and carers who have looked after him with such kindness in hospital and at home. We will miss above all his love which has sustained us throughout our lives. But we are comforted by the memory of his long, full and inspiring life and so proud of his devotion to helping others as he sought to change the world for the better.”

Labour leader Ed Miliband said Benn was an “iconic figure of our age”, “a champion of the powerless, a great parliamentarian and a conviction politician”. David Cameron said on Twitter: “Tony Benn was a magnificent writer, speaker and campaigner. There was never a dull moment listening to him, even if you disagreed with him.”



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This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

August 12, 2007

Wikinews interviews: Tony Benn on U.K. politics

Wikinews interviews: Tony Benn on U.K. politics

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Tony Benn
Credit: Josh Benn

Tony Benn, at 82 is a still an active political figure, attending rallies and giving speeches. During the 1970s he served under James Callaghan as Energy Secretary, having earlier held the position of Secretary of State for Industry under Harold Wilson.

After a number of attempts to contact Mr Benn via email, he forwarded a telephone number for the purpose of doing an interview. Following a brief discussion to explain who or what Wikinews is, and its relation with Wikipedia, Wikinews reporter Brian McNeil started putting the questions. Mr Benn speaks at length on a variety of topics, this is the first article from this extended interview covering his views on New Labour and U.K. politics.

Contrasting the situation between Tony Benn’s time in government and the Tony Blair years Wikinews asked “In the last 12 years the Labour party had one leadership election which was…ceremonial. In 76-88 they had three, two that you stood in. Which do you think is better? Regular, or a ‘strong man’ leader that isn’t challenged?”

I think in 1997 any Labour leader would’ve won the election because the people wanted a change but what made 1997 different was that the British establishment didn’t want a change, they wanted Mrs. Thatcher’s policies to be continued and Blair gave an assurance that he would, in economic terms, follow her lead. He said, New Labour is a new political party and when Mrs. Thatcher was asked her greatest achievement, she said “New Labour”. Therefore, the Labour victories in 97 […] Blair victories have not really been Labour victories, they’ve been victories for a party that based so much of its polices on the Thatcher inheritance. And that’s why I’m not a member of New Labour.
Cquote1.svg … when Mrs. Thatcher was asked her greatest achievement, she said “New Labour”. Cquote2.svg

Wikinews asked about Tony Benn’s opinion of Gordon Brown, the United Kingdom’s new Prime Minister.

Gordon Brown’s roots are in the Labour movement, which Blair’s were not. He understands the history of Labour movement, he is very much committed to market forces and globalisation but he’s a son of the manse and he’s entitled to a honeymoon and I think his early start has been very interesting. He’s distanced himself discreetly from President Bush. When he went to see Bush, Bush praised him and he praised the United States of America, which is an important thing and he choose to make his big speech at the United Nations about Darfur and now the paper today, I don’t know if that is true, suggest that British troops will be withdrawn from Iraq soon, I hope that is true. He’s also made one or two very interesting constitutional proposals which would give greater power to parliament rather than be a presidential system and […] also he’s made a request today for the return of all the British residents who’ve been detained in Guantanamo Bay. So my instinct is to give him a good start and the main thing is – Blair has gone – and I must admit, that is such a development, such an important development that my inclination is to try and give Gordon Brown an opportunity.

Wikinews asked if Tony Benn believed the U.K. should withdraw from Iraq.

Oh yes. Well according to the papers today, it looks as if Brown may be planning to do that on the basis of the military advice he has received from the British general. But that’s, I hope that’s true, but it isn’t confirmed.
Well I think the contribution that Blair made to Bush was to pretend, help him to pretend that this was an international force, a coalition of the willing, where as if Britain refused to go in it would have been seen as a Vietnam and I think to that extent, Blair gave Bush what he wanted. Bush didn’t get, want…or need British troops, but he wanted British political support and he got it. And I think that political support is ending.
Wikinews
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members, including an exclusive interview which can be heard here. See the collaboration page for more details.



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December 11, 2005

Hundreds attend \”International Peace Conference\”

Hundreds attend “International Peace Conference”

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Sunday, December 11, 2005

On Saturday 10 December 2005, Tony Benn spoke to around 1,500 people at the opening rally of a peace conference at the Royal Horticultural Hall in London organised by the Stop the War Coalition in opposition to the occupation of Iraq. Tony Benn told the amassed conference delegates that the anti-war movement, which is calling for troops to be withdrawn from Iraq, is the biggest he had seen in his lifetime.

Throughout the long day, from 10am to 8pm, there were 33 speakers in total. Among these was Cindy Sheehan, American anti-war activist whose son, a soldier, died in Iraq. She spoke in a session along with among others Reg Keys and Rose Gentle from Military Families Against the War. Several speakers who had travelled from Iraq spoke, including Hassan Juma, president of the Iraqi trade union the Southern Oil Workers’ Union. He condemned what he claimed were attempts by America to strip Iraq through privatizing its services. Sheikh Hussein al Zagani, a representative of Muqtada al-Sadr, was due to speak at the conference but was reportedly denied a visa.[1]

George Galloway, the RESPECT MP, closed the conference in a speech in which he urged people to build for a planned international demonstration on the 18th of March next year.

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This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.


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This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

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