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The cosmic shopkeeper appears

Posted on March 14, 2014 by

Tony Benn, who died today at the age of 88, was an archetypal British nationalist. He wanted Britain out of the EU, but opposed Scottish independence on the grounds that it would turn his mother into a “foreigner”.

Nevertheless, even to a lot of people on the Yes side he represented, in the words of pro-independence New Statesman columnist James Maxwell this morning, “a Britain I could’ve voted for”. (NB Retweets are not necessarily endorsements.)

tonybenn

A man who went to court to fight against his own personal privilege, Benn was an anachronism in a country full of politicians who spend much of their time battling to protect their access to the great trough of public money on the banks of the Thames.

So it’s no surprise that his passing has unleashed a tidal wave of hypocrisy.

Ed Miliband was quick off the mark to lionise Benn as “a champion of the powerless”. But Mr Miliband’s Labour takes a rather different attitude to society’s downtrodden:

“We were set up as the party to represent the values of working people, working being the key word. We weren’t set up as some sort of charity to help the poorest in society – the long-term unemployed, the benefit dependent, the drug addicted, the homeless.” (Tom Harris, Labour MP for Glasgow South)

Modern Labour regard the powerless as scroungers and skivers demanding “something for nothing”, fit only to be made to endure humiliating “work capability assessments” (introduced by Gordon Brown in 2008) and then forced into unpaid labour for wealthy corporations. Miliband plans to continue and expand the “workfare” programme, pioneered by Tony Blair, if elected in 2015.

(When Benn wrote to the Guardian in 2010 calling for opposition to Tory welfare reforms and austerity cuts, just TWO out of 258 Labour MPs signed his letter.)

But then, none of this is news in the context of Tony Benn. We already knew what he thought of the 21st-century Labour Party, in unequivocal terms. As its scions and tribunes line up to issue streams of hollow platitudes through crocodile tears for TV cameras all day, readers might wish to remind themselves of Benn’s view of them.

“[Tony Blair] transformed the Labour party from being a radical alternative to the Conservatives into a quasi-Thatcherite sect that made three electoral victories possible, with the backing of Rupert Murdoch and other proprietors.

My interpretation of New Labour was that it arose when Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Peter Mandelson concluded that Labour could never win unless it adopted the economic policy that Mrs Thatcher had set out.

In this regard it succeeded and transformed British politics in a very fundamental way, culminating in Labour’s defeat in the 2010 general election. This was brought about by the alienation of New Labour from its natural base of public support, and created a general sense of cynicism about British politics from which we are still suffering.

Those who read ‘A Journey’ would do well to discover the thinking that lay behind this move to the right and why it is that so many solid Labour supporters feel deeply disappointed by the outcome.”

As a pro-independence, pro-EU site with no aversion to “foreigners”, we disagreed profoundly with Tony Benn on subjects relating to nationalism. But on almost every other subject he was a man we held in the utmost respect. The organisation calling itself the Labour Party today is a cynical travesty, an insult to everything he stood for and a complete betrayal of the socialist values Benn espoused for his whole life.

Don’t take our word for that. Let the man himself tell you, even as he rests in peace. We don’t know how they dare to show their faces today.

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    80 to “The cosmic shopkeeper appears”

    1. keef says:

      A very heartfelt and moving and insightful epitaph Rev.
      Much respect mate.

    2. Harry Shanks says:

      I’m sure I read somewhere that when Tony Benn entered his offices for the first time as Energy/Oil Minister, he immediately ordered the wall map of the UK to be turned upside down.

      So, at least he knew the significance of where the oil was!!

    3. Robert Kerr says:

      “Tory Tam, The Labour Man”

      He looked at the SNP as his personal enemy in the West Lothian constituency and had Willie Wolfe as his adversary.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Wolfe.

      He did much damage to Scotland.

      May he rot.

    4. Vronsky says:

      Yes, Benn had a blind spot on nationalism.

      Ironically, many years ago it was a book by Brian Sedgemore, Benn’s one time PPS, that started me on the road to belief in the need for Scottish independence. It also contains interesting diary notes on that part of Benn’s career. The Secret Constitution is reviewed here by David Marquand – very unsympathetically, as you’d expect from a current Labour apparatchik.

    5. Tim Smith says:

      Thanks Stuart. A very, very good and honest appraisal and tribute to Mr Benn.

    6. galamcennalath says:

      Tony Benn was energy minister and at the centre of suppressing the McCrone Report.

    7. Iain says:

      I think he had something to offer England, but he had the blindness typical of the establishment with regard to Scotland: Scotland should be ruled by England, and that is that. And the customary naivety to believe that a family connection gave him an insight, and automatic authority: “I understand the Scots: my mother was Scottish” was his line whenever Scotland was the topic. He was also slightly loopy: he recorded all his speeches, and listened to them habitually as other people listen to the radio or watch TV.

    8. Wayne Brown says:

      Robert Kerr says:
      14 March, 2014 at 9:22 am
      “Tory Tam, The Labour Man”

      You would appear to be confusing Tony with Tam our very own, in house, bin man.

    9. steviecosmic says:

      I find it very difficult to have any respect for those who advocate socialist internationalism as a sound political ideology, when it has so tragically failed the working classes for decades.

      I can’t understand how Benn could look north, see the deprivation in Scotland caused by Thatcher’s de-industrialization and all the horrors that brought, and still fight to maintain the union that caused it, all in the name of solidarity.

      When I hear Labour men, like DH, espousing this solidarity in poverty pish, I can’t help but come to the conclusion that the only people that benefit from it are the politicians pushing that agenda. Labour in Scotland exist because of poverty, and have a vested interest in making sure it continues if they are to maintain their power base.

    10. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “He looked at the SNP as his personal enemy in the West Lothian constituency and had Willie Wolfe as his adversary.”

      That’s Tam Dalyell, Robert, not Tony Benn. Bit early to be on the Fusilier even on a Friday, no?

    11. Wp says:

      Wayne, I took it he meant Tom Harris,maybe I’m wrong.

    12. Macart says:

      Pretty much in a nutshell Rev.

      I may not have agreed with certain aspects of Mr Benn’s political beliefs, but held the man in some respect.

      Of today’s crop? I’d struggle badly to think of a single one in either parliament who would recognise the term public servant.

    13. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “Wayne, I took it he meant Tom Harris,maybe I’m wrong.”

      No. Tom Harris is MP for Glasgow South. Billy Wolfe’s opponent in West Lothian was Tam Dalyell. As a West Lothian boy myself, I know.

    14. Schiehallion! Schiehallion! says:

      @ Wayne Brown

      That is a West Lothian question?

    15. Robert Kerr says:

      Oops

      Better wake up now.

    16. jingly jangly says:

      Whilst I respected Benn for some of his beliefs, and he was a distant cousin 🙂 It was him who came up with the concept of the UK Continental Shelf which has allowed the black propaganda of the British State to brainwash our people that we are twtpts . He did Scotland no favours.

      A Proud British Nat.

    17. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “A Proud British Nat.”

      As I do point out in the very first sentence.

    18. Grouse Beater says:

      His early days, as he struggled to remove the veneer of his elitism by junking his titles one at a time, he was nicknamed politician with the incredible shrinking name:

      Lord Benn 2nd Viscount Earl of Stansgate
      Sir Anthony Neil Wedgewood Benn
      Anthony Wedgewood Benn
      Anthony Benn
      Tony Benn

      He follows a long line of English aristos and the enobled who feel strangely inclined to identify with the poor and downtrodden and who think the quickest way there is to ask they be called “Jimmy” rather than their Sunday name.

      Your Lordship, I wonder if you might give a little to the poor fund?
      The poor? In my case it constitutes 99% of the population. Can you be a little more specific?

      His main attribute was his obvious sincerity and a neat turn of phrase, though I question whether many knew what the hell he was talking about.

      His weaknesses an inveterate grumpiness, and an annoying way of garbling his opinion – like his friend, Tam Dayell – compelled as he often was to take the contrarian view the moment he had convinced everybody to agree with his original stance.

      Thus, yesterday he felt the Middle East should be tamed, everybody agrees, today he is against the Afghanistan war.

      Tony Benn was a man compelled to argue against something. Had he been a gardener it would be growing more food for the masses yesterday, the evil of modified crops today.

      His refutation of Scotland’s need for greater democracy and sealing it in a constitution is ample illustration of the limits to his egalitarian socialism.

      But you couldn’t help liking him.

      Unlike Galloway, he was never belligerent or bullying.

    19. David says:

      “He will be remembered as a champion of the powerless, a great parliamentarian and a conviction politician,” Mr Miliband said. (from the BBC website)

      If you are NOT a “conviction politician”, then WTF are you doing in politics? There ought to be no other type of politician allowed!

      Politics needs to be about deeply-felt ideas, beliefs, and causes. If a politician has no real belief in what he is saying, then neither will the electorate. Hence the mess our system is in nowadays.

      …and breathe… 🙂

    20. TheGreatBaldo says:

      Ah when the Labour Party had socialists….first memory of him is being off sick from school when he lost the Deputy Leadership election to Dennis Healey and the passionate argument that kicked off in ma hoose between my dad & Gran….

      Personally I just wanted ‘The Flumps’ to come on

      Entirely inappropriate I know but I thought the woman in the photo to Tony’s left was James May at first glance.

    21. Desimond says:

      Like Bob Crow, we can expect hollowness to ring out from Westminster and a lot of nods on Question Time next week before moving onto discuss more cuts affecting the poor in the name of Austerity.

      I know its just me but always had my suspicions about folk that keep diaries…strike me as suspicious, same as the folk who cant function without those Things To Do Lists 🙂

    22. Breeks says:

      Not sure about Tony Benn. He was comfortable with a lot of things I find repugnant, but at the same time seemed to have his heart in the right place.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LnY-jy_cE0

      I think he was a powerful force to have on your side, but considering McCrone, he wasn’t actually on our side.

    23. Zen Broon says:

      Heard him speak very effectively at a conference a few years ago. Like Salmond he was a conviction politician, and also like Salmond Benn was was in his time derided, patronised and ridiculed by the British establishment in order to isolate and reduce his influence.

    24. SquareHaggis says:

      Aww, bummer…

      Expect a mixed reaction on this subject today Rev.

      I read a performance poem in Edinburgh a few years ago wherein I briefly mention Tony Benn and the reaction was about 50-50.

      Nae quitea lead balloon but folk have mixed feelings.

      Was down to see the Clash in 79 (I think it was) and chanced upon a rally somewhere along the edge o the Thames, Anti-war or CND maybe?

      I was kickin beer cans and pissing about at the time when..
      All on a sudden this voice comes fleein out at me and stops me dead in my tracks.
      It was a toff sounding voice, not telling me what to be or what tae dae but speakin aboot what should be and could be, folk were cheering and noddin their heids tae a toff talkin hope and morality,

      Stummed!

      Got me thinkin and been deain so ever since.

      Best o luck Mister Benn, enjoy yer adventure oot the ither side o that door.

      OH! and do kick Thatchers erse good an proper if ye see her!
      Although she probably went thru a different door…

    25. Alt Clut says:

      You got it right Stu ! Benn was wrong on Scotland but a strong progressive voice on much else. In the new Scotland that we are fighting for we will achieve much more in establishing a prosperous, active democracy committed to social justice if we can see our potential allies as clearly as we see our enemies.

      I spent many years in the far left in 70’s – 90’s where although we fought hard, for many of the same objectives as the independence movement today, we were so blinkered about our own ‘rightness’ that doing anything effective outside our own little corner was pretty limited.

      We need to be alliance builders – the ‘YES’ campaign shows us how !

    26. theycan'tbeserious says:

      “Actions speak louder than words”. A man should be measured by his actions and not his ability to orate.

    27. Desimond says:

      Just thinking there…

      Those days…Tony Benn…the Lord who wanted to be a working man

      These days…Labour Politicians….The working men\women who want to be Lords

    28. Vronsky says:

      Time the West Lothian Question got a West Lothian answer.

    29. heedtracker says:

      Watching a privileged English aristo going harder and harder left on tv night after night early 80’s as all England’s media, BBC, Murdoch worked desperately to keep Thatcher in power was really bad news. Even my Tory friends thought he was a Tory plant.

    30. Janine says:

      I didn’t agree with a lot of Tony Benn’s ideals – but it’s always a bad day when we lose a politician who was in Westminster to make a difference rather than as a career choice.

    31. Chris Darroch says:

      http://wingsoverscotland.com/a-letter-to-tony-benn/

      “Self indulgent” is one of the phrases that stood out in the commentary of the article I reference above.

      Labour leaders are suffer from simple envy of any other group such as the SNP who may carry a message similar to theirs.

      Leaders who are held in esteem for their words more often that not fail to carry them through in deed.

      No one who hides something like the McCrone report from it’s people deserves any respect. That is criminally corrupt.

      They may be excused or excuse themselves for such a fraud by reference to some greater good, but it simply reveals a lack of real faith in their beliefs and thus faith in the Scots.

    32. Papadox says:

      Tony Benn aye there were a lot worse than him about. Tony used to record every word he said in public because the MSM + EBC used to doctor and edit his words to suite the agenda (of the establishment) he was passed off as paranoid and a bit eccentric when in fact he was playing the media at its own game, sharp cookie, nobodies dummy.

      Again tony was anti nuclear and as minister for power he was duped into signing the go ahead for a nuclear power station or something (establishment again).

      He had his faults and certainly was a bit eccentric and BRITISH to the back teeth but with some standards that are very hard to find nowadays in parliament.

      The cover up and deception of the Scottish people over oil is a cross he has to bare. Healy has at least made a clean breast of it for whatever reason

      All in all there were a lot worse than him about in parliament, so rest in peace Tony.

      Re the establishment MSM + EBC PROPAGANDA some things never change, it’s been going on for a lot longer than that.

    33. Dougie Douglas says:

      Tom Harris – you are a disgrace.

    34. Cath says:

      “Nevertheless, even to a lot of people on the Yes side he represented, in the words of pro-independence New Statesman columnist James Maxwell this morning, “a Britain I could’ve voted for”.”

      That’s a nice quote, and one I suspect a year or two ago I’d have wholeheartedly agreed with.

      Sadly, knowing his role in things like the McCrone report, and his role therefore in perpetuating UK power and power structures and the UK establishment now, there isn’t any way back to a year or two ago.

    35. HandandShrimp says:

      I disagreed with Benn’s views on what independence would mean for Scotland in that I believe it will be a step closer to what I want from a country and a fairer more just society.

      On Labour, people like Tony Benn were exactly why I voted for Labour for so long. I was genuinely saddened to hear of his death but 88 is a good shout. A celebration of a life that encompassed the true Labour spirit rather mourning is probably more appropriate too. RIP Tony you will be missed.

    36. Cath says:

      I still have a huge amount of respect for him as a politician, but as an English one, dedicated to UK interests. Nothing at all wrong with that of course, especially if your heart’s in the right place. But it does put you on what by your own political beliefs would be “the wrong side” of any debate about the right to self-determination for other parts of the UK.

    37. Gillie says:

      Didn’t Ed Miliband refuse to be seen standing alongside Tony Benn?

    38. Anthony Armstrong says:

      I’d rather have a Benn or Skinner than what we have now, at least you know/knew there were lines they would never cross, I’d take that all day long rather the charlatans that tell you one thing while doing the opposite.

      At least the Tories tell you they’re going to bite you.

    39. Gillie says:

      One for the BBC.

      Tony Benn: “Broadcasting is really too important to be left to the broadcasters.”

    40. Roll_On_2014 says:

      .
      Stu I wonder what stance your mate Duncy has on Tony Benn’s demise… is he on his ass or his elbow?

    41. muttley79 says:

      RIP Tony Benn. I did not agree with him on Scottish independence, but agreed with him on many other political issues.

    42. Clootie says:

      I agree with Macart in that you have to look at his career in the context of comparison. He held closer to the original values of socialism although he did have a peculiar blind spot as regards “home rule”. A socialist can hold the same values in any country.

      The real shock for me in this article was the quote from Tom Harris. I would imagine more than a few socialists of yesteryear must be spinning in their graves.

      The Labour Party is not socialism. It once was and it should be. However Blair / Brown / Balls / Darling put the final nail in that coffin with New Labour.

      The two diverged many years ago. Party and Principles don’t always align (as we see quite clearly in the new professional breed of politicians.

    43. liz says:

      I feel nothing about the death of Tony Benn other than that’s it’s sad for his family.

      Even though he gave up his title – the left loved him for that and would forgive him anything – I still think he was still an aristo and therefore the UK came first and foremost.

      I for one can’t forget about the suppression of McCrone – that was criminal.

      Does anyone know if he had a position on Ireland?

    44. K8ie says:

      OT
      Latest Indy video – Lady Caesar! bad romance. This should go viral. If you have problems downloading, then use the Google facility.

    45. proudscot says:

      I have no strong views on Tony Benn. Having said that, I believe he could have led a much less controversial life if he had just accepted the peerage his father’s death bequeathed him, turned up at the House of Lords along with the rest of the unelected troughers and trousered his daily £300 tax-free allowance.

      With regard to his being an unapologetic British Nationalist, he is no different to the rest of the current crop of Labour MPs currently representing Scottish constituencies today. I regard most of them with with the contempt they deserve, as they constantly talk Scotland down in a way I don’t think Tony Benn ever did, regardless of his political opinions on the subject.

    46. Stevie says:

      He went to court to fight for the right to be an MP – he couldn’t legally become an MP as a peer, so the peerage was passed on to Hilary Benn his son. He lost nothing.

      He hid the fact that Scotland was oil rich from the Scots to avoid a rise in Scottish nationalism and at the end of his life ranted on about British nationalism.

      A hypocrite.

    47. desimond says:

      I feel sorry for the poor Shopkeeper…who is going to come in and put on the Fancy Dress outfits now that Mr Benn has passed away?

      Sad to see another small business goes under.

    48. Steve B says:

      Just to back-up what many people above have already said, my memories of the early 1980s in particular were of his constant vilification by the press (The Guardian also has form there!) and by TV. His views were paraded as fanciful and the constant refrain was that he’d Labour unelectable because he actually wanted changed. They also, of course, made their usual personal attacks against him.

      His vilification by the MSM (and remember those were pre-WWW days) reached its crescendo at the time of the Labour deputy leadership contest in the early 80s. This was seen as the defining battle between right and left. His narrow defeat led the decline of the left within the Labour Party. Some of his followers signed up for careers and became softer and softer left and ended up joining right wing “New” Labour, while other followers who stayed truer to their beliefs were marginalised within Labour and many left disillusioned or got involved with single-issue campaigns.

      I think it is this legacy, the symbolism of his defeat by the right in Labour, which started the process that has led Labour to the unprincipled place where it now resides.

      So I remember him not for his particular policies – some of which were OK, some obviously not – but for the symbolism of what he stood for at a particular time.

    49. Cath says:

      “I’d rather have a Benn or Skinner than what we have now, at least you know/knew there were lines they would never cross,”

      Agree entirely.

      The really eye-opening thing for me over the past few years has been just how far Labour has fallen in my estimation. And that is because they don’t debate at all, or appear to have any principals, or know what they stand for. They just lie, smear and abuse “opponents” to keep power at all costs.

      The Tories at least know what they stand for and are consistent about it. They’re (mostly anyway) unionists and right wing and, agree with them or not, they’ll stand up for that consistently and argue their case with a certain amount of respect.

      I would also respect anyone arguing for unionism from a left-wing perspective, which I imagine it was perfectly possible to do in the 1970s (I may well have been in that camp myself then, probably would have been).

      But twisting yourself in knots to argue black is white, lying through your teeth, trying to frustrate or quash debate, bullying and smearing people is what the Labour party are actually reduced to. They’re another Tory party, defending the elite while trying to pretend to be something else.

    50. kininvie says:

      I’m not sure whether it’s possible to put all the blame on Tony Benn for the untimely death of British motor manufacturing, but nationalising the motor industry and creating the appalling British Leyland must rank among the worst industrial decisions taken in the post-war period.

    51. Grouse Beater says:

      Benn claimed, rightly in my opinion, “Britain as a democracy” was “questionable.” That he found he could not, and did not, allow Scotland the knowledge to evolve into one when he was in power, renders his political wisdom if not his integrity highly questionable.

    52. heedtracker says:

      Benn did a lot to get Concorde airborne and he was proud of it. So at the same time they were building England’s massive motorway network that all stopped dead at Newcastle and still do, they used Scots oil and taxation to help pay for it all.

      Other than oil, soldiery, country estates, Scotland meant little if anything to these people but this is Benn on English/French petty bickering. When they flew Concord/e for the last time Benn was on the flight and he said this about England.

      “I didn’t tell anybody I was planning to do it, but once I had announced it in Toulouse, they couldn’t do anything about it. I said: “E stands for excellence, for England, for Europe and for the entente cordiale.” I might have added “E stands for escalation,” because, of course, it was very expensive, but I didn’t say that at the time.

      http://www.theguardian.com/business/2003/oct/17/theairlineindustry.g21

    53. Greannach says:

      I enjoyed ‘champion of the powerless’ and I’m sure Thazzaband’s endorsement of Benn will ring through the ages like ‘the people’s princess’ a few years ago. The speechwriters must have been up overnight to think that one up for him.

    54. scottish_skier says:

      Can fair feel the buzz o the Tory conference here in Edinburgh.

      We’ve got a meeting room here in the office that sits 10 at a push. Our bid as hosts was narrowly rejected.

    55. Ian Brotherhood says:

      Anyone know how it went at the Mitchell Theatre last night?

      I’ll bet Naughtie kicked Darling’s arse up and down the place, demanding straight answers for once.

    56. scottish_skier says:

      Massive queues as the delegates begin to arrive. Standing room only.

      https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Bir3LlqIgAADAjF.jpg

    57. HandandShrimp says:

      Ian

      I thought there might be something on the Beeb about Naughtie and darling but there is not.

      Interesting piece about Ruth Davidson talking about a post Yes scenario…she would very much still want to be part of the Scottish political scene and she would lean to Patrick Harvie’s position on currency. Fair play to Ruth on both scores.

    58. Ian Brotherhood says:

      Missed the start – who is this ‘Sheila’ currently talking shite on Brian’s Never Ending Roadshow?

    59. Croompenstein says:

      @scottish_skier – that nyaff at the front looks like he is turning oot his pockets – wonder what they are asking..reminds me of Crucifixion..good..Crucifixion.

    60. Elizabeth says:

      Sheila Gilmore, Labour MP for Edinburgh East

    61. fergie35 says:

      @K8tie
      haha… really enjoyed the Lady Caesar! youtube clip you posted above.

    62. desimond says:

      Ed Milibland – “Tony Benn, he always stood for what he believed in”

      Love how he can make something sound like a compliment whilst not actually giving one

    63. scottish_skier says:

      I was involved in organisation of a conference at the EICC. Looks like the Tories are in one of the small Lomond Suite rooms (Tinto etc) in ‘Reception’ layout for 150. Room is max 200 theatre, but they’ve tables with biscuits and coffee at the back so reception mode.

      http://www.eicc.co.uk/organising/eicc-rooms/lomond-suite/#

      Using the small ‘Atrium’ for stalls and stuff it looks like.

      http://www.eicc.co.uk/organising/eicc-rooms/atrium/

    64. The Rough Bounds says:

      Tony Benn wasn’t particularly great. He certainly wasn’t ‘Mr. Wonderful’ as far as MY country was concerned and the only reason he seemed to shine in British politics was that everybody else was so dull if not downright manky.

      Nothing changed with his life and nothing has changed with his death. The House of Lords is still there and the British Establishment is still as corrupt as it has ever been.

      If you want to be inspired by a great patriot and thinker go to Wikipedia and take a look at R. B. Cunninghame Graham.

      Tony Benn wasn’t fit to shine his shoes.

    65. Clootie says:

      Desimond

      Perhaps too clever!
      I smiled.

    66. The Rough Bounds says:

      @HighlandShrimp. 12.31 midday.

      ”Ruth Davidson…would lean to Patrick Harvie’s position.”

      Yes indeed.

    67. Holebender says:

      I suspect Tony Benn’s mother was about as Scottish as the Queen’s mother was.

      I wonder if it ever ever crossed his mind that his American wife was a foreigner?

    68. fittie says:

      I forget who , but someone once said “pickle radicalism in a jar for long enough and it becomes a fruity conservatism”

      Thats what happened to Tony Benn .What was radical in 1945 with the passage of time can become regressive ,Ie Anti European union ,and of course this love of Tonys for the British state .Tony was brought up as Whig gentry and all that implies with the whig gentry history .

      That same attitude is common in the labour party towards Scotland ,and perhaps explains their backward looking opposition to independence

    69. setondene says:

      I never followed hid career or took much interest in Tony Benn, but I was brought up in a very traditional mining community. What I remember most about that community’s attitude to Tony Benn in the 1960s was that they admired him ditching the title, considered him to be a man of principles, and almost universally agreed that he would utterly wreck the country if he ever got into a position of power. I say ‘almost’ but I don’t remember anyone ever disagreeing with that particular point.

    70. Jamie Arriere says:

      A wee quote I spotted from an American industrialist/capitalist who was with Tony Benn at the Isle of Grain when the first oil came ashore in c.1975 :

      I think [Tony Benn] finally realised that it was important to Britain what we were doing and what we were up to. He was very much union orientated, but we had to get along
      with him ? and the only thing I remember specifically was the day we brought the first oil ashore.

      We all went up to the captain’s cabin on this tanker. His wife was an American girl. We were up there and he was saying; ‘Isn’t this a remarkable thing? This has been the salvation of England. We’ve got our own oil supplies now; we don’t have to rely on the Middle East. This is the greatest thing that has happened to Britain!’

      Say no more.

    71. Macart says:

      @Clootie 11.24

      Right back at you couldn’t agree more. The Labour party, ethics and socialism all went their separate ways some time ago.

    72. Jamie Arriere says:

      @Desimond

      Milliband’s epitaph will be “He always stood in what he believed in”

    73. Stevie says:

      I was going to make up some pics criticising the hypocrite but decided – best forgotten as quickly as possible.

    74. David McCann says:

      The last socialist in the British Labour party has just died

    75. Colin young says:

      Tony was energy minister at the time of the mcrone report ?
      Respect has crumbled bye Tony…

    76. reginald says:

      I was listening to a long and rather deferential interview with Tony Benn on his life and times.The Interviewer had previously asked for listeners comments and announced we have a minute left and can take one texted question. Me “Your former colleague Harold Wilson said that Tony immatures with age.Any thoughts on that observation” Tony Benn ” I don’t deal in personalities only political ideas”

    77. Robert Peffers says:

      Those of us, old enough to have lived under a real Labour Party, know Labour’s decline reaches much further back than Blair, Brown and Mandelson. We remember the Labour Party was born from a somewhat disparate eclectic movement with many facets including the Trade Union and Co-operative Movements. It was thus a broad working class movement that needed a political voice and a sound political representation in the seat of power at, Westminster to gain its collective aims. Thus, ironically aided by the Liberal Party, they sponsored candidates for election as MPs to parliament. The first to succeed was the former, “Scottish Crofter’s Party”, member, Kier Hardy. Only after there were several such MPs could those elected MPs form a political party – The Labour Party. Thus the real rot had set in when that political wing of the movement began to distance itself from the Co-op movement. It is now in the process of a bitter divorce from the Trade Union movement and thus the final total removal of its root system. A typical case of the former tail wagging the proverbial dog.

    78. Taranaich says:

      What a depressing state of affairs it is that TONY BENN is the last true strand of Labour left, and extolled as an example of standing up for the people.

      Benn was, for me, a deeply divisive figure for all the reasons raised by others. Like many on the English left, he was great for England’s working classes and disadvantaged, but would happily sell Scotland out for the greater good of his own country. This was never clearer than his complicity in the suppression of the McCrone report. He was clearly a British nationalist, of course: even his support of Irish unification was for an Ireland within the UK.

      Benn was a person who did some great things and some bad things. But in a climate where most politicians have a negative approval rating and even those most trusted are constantly villified in the press as “dishonest,” “liars” or “hypocrites,” Benn was one of the few who seemed like a reasonable human being. How did it get to the point where being a reasonable human being made you a hero in politics?

    79. Craig says:

      As far as Scotland is concerned, Tony Benn was not any different from the likes of Thatcher and Cameron.

      For these people Scotland is only there to be milked dry for the benefit of the UK’s, that isEngland’s, global status.

      I lost respect for Tony Benn when he remained silent about the war criminal Blair at the election after the Iraq war.

      I strongly believe that Blair bribed him by offering a cabinet post to his son Hilary.

    80. morgan mc says:

      Respect to Tony Benn, Bob Crow.

      As a pro EU site with no aversion to foreigners. How does that square with the EU’s own Nationalist agenda and empire building. That has border controls for non EU citizens and no access to social security benefits for five years.

      “EU migration rules have imposed unparalleled standards on social security rights for migrants. For example, after five years of legal residence, provided they meet certain conditions, non-EU nationals acquire the same social security, social assistance and social protection rights as EU nationals have”.

      EU policy document

      EU nationalists and the EU state machine implement a border policy and five year wait on benefits to other citizens of the world who are non EU. But decry parties as racist and xenophobic when they advocate the same rules be extended to EU nationals. Funny that.



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