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Tony Benn

From Mick Piggott

Saturday, 15 March 2014

It's perhaps a trite comment to say that you don't have to be brilliant or wonderful or principled to gain power, at whatever level; most world leaders fail to impress with evidence of their intelligence, decency or commitment to principle. That is self-evidently true of the leaders of all the British political parties.

There is a general feeling that we 'don't speak ill of the dead', and the aging Denis Healey, a past Labour leader demonstrated that he does not share such a sentiment when he said of Tony Benn, 'He was the hero of the left wing but of course that type of left-wing Labour Party didn't appeal to the public, so he was very damaging to the party.' Daft old Denis thus appears to believe that standing up for decency and principles was more damaging to Labour than the vile politics of those from the political right who really did split the party by forming the SDP; people like David Owen and Shirley Williams, still jumping on the right-wing bandwagon.

News of Tony Benn's death came through just as I finished reading the empty semi-rhetoric of the Labour Party that fills their current issue of One Nation (which name, by the way, is copied from that of an Australian fascist party). The Labour Party's leader Ed Miliband has said of Mr Benn, 'He will be remembered as a champion of the powerless, a great parliamentarian and a conviction politician. He spoke his mind and he spoke up for his values. Everyone knew where he stood and what he stood for.' How we socialists wish that we could say the same for Miliband!

We can ignore the crassly insincere and well-publicised 'tributes' from Tories like Johnson and Cameron. However, the stink of hypocrisy emanating from the past and present leadership of the Labour Party (including Healey) somewhat sticks in the craw.

There are self-evidently very few truly decent people arising from the ranks of the aristocracy and Tony Benn was a very rare example. It is sad indeed that in the same week, we have lost possibly the best trade union leader, characterised by some as 'a working-class hero', and the best of the Labour hierarchy. It's a sad week for the Labour movement.

From Paul Clarke

Sunday, 16 March 2014

I would refer people to The Guardian's Michael White who crafted a brilliant and fair obit of a man who spent his whole working life in the House of Commons. See article

From Mick Piggott

Monday, 17 March 2014

Actually I found the article a bit snidey; for real balance, interested readers should also read the articles in the Guardian by Owen Jones and Gary Younge.