Friday, 14 March 2014
I am saddened to hear that Tony Benn has died.
His diaries were a great inspiration and a fabulous read. His account of the death of his wife Caroline from bone cancer is perhaps one of the most moving chronicles ever written about the pain of losing the one you love.
I never bought into his idealised view of the working classes, and there was something laughable about a man holding multi-million pound property and shares portfolios talking about Socialism and equality, but he was a giant of a politician and great parliamentarian. He demonstrated great courage over the campaign to renounce his Peerage and paved the way for many more Peers to renounce their unwanted titles and serve their country in the Commons. Had I lived in Bristol East during that time I probably would have voted for him in the by-election on this issue alone; the case was overwhelming and the changes he was campaigning for with regard to Hereditary Peerages had to be won.
I met him twice; once many years ago in Wallasey and more recently when we found ourselves in the same train heading to Haltempice & Howden where we were both campaigning for David Davis's "civil liberties' by-election. He was unfailingly courteous and managed to appear genuinely interested in what I was saying. I found his speeches on the Chartists, the Levellers and Suffragettes inspirational - which any Libertarian would. Sadly I thought his last proper written work, Letters to my Grandchildren, showed a personal bitterness which he had honourably managed to avoid throughout his life.
Notwithstanding any of the above, he was one of the dominant figures in political landscape of the second half of the 20th Century. His love of his family shone through his writing and he believed passionately in politics as a force for good.