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Tony Benn's Biography

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Former Labour MP and Cabinet Minister, Tony Benn was born on 3 April 1925.

The son of 1st Viscount Stansgate, he was first elected to Parliament in 1950. Tony Benn was barred from taking his seat in the House of Commons when he succeeded to his father's title. Eventually, however, he was allowed to disclaim the title for life and was re-elected in 1963.

Here are some quotes from an interview with Tony Benn by Michael Crick, which took place in 2003:

"Well, I think really if you look back, and I don't want to be unfair, but I think if you look at the New Labour project, it was based on a very clear idea, if you wanted power, you had to satisfy the rich because they had power. They own the newspapers, they own the companies, they had lots of money to give, and this was a political project to distance yourself from the trade unions, to abandon any formal link with socialism, and to attract the rich to make you seem if not attractive, at least not dangerous, and that is what the project was about. Everybody understands that now, and it was about getting political power. It wasn't about helping British industry, I assure you"

"Q) In what way, then, is the party you belong to being bought?

"A) Well it hasn't been bought because New Labour is not, I'm not a member of New Labour. And the Prime Minister said he’d set up a new political party called New Labour. And I'm not a member, I'm a member of the Labour Party. I'm not a member of old Labour, I mean he has no right to reclassify my party, I'm a, a Labour Party member, have been for 62 years, and the Labour Party's had socialists in it, and New Labour has no socialists in it, and doesn't like the trade unions.

"Well, they think it's the best deal, I mean one of the reasons if I put it the other way round, why the Conservative Party's in such a mess, because there's a much better Conservative Party in office, that's what's about. I mean why vote for the Conservatives when you've got a party that is reflecting in its philosophy everything that Mrs Thatcher did? I mean it's as straightforward as that, real problem with the Conservative Party. There's no need for them."

Some Tony Benn trivia (much of it gleaned from the Telegraph Magazine):

  • Tony Benn used to have breakfast of orange juice, a white bun with margarine and marmalade and a banana;
  • Benn went to Downing Street when he was five and met Gandhi when he (Benn) was six;
  • He started smoking a pipe when he was sixteen and starting as an RAF pilot;
  • Tony Benn recorded his diary on a tape-recorder every night.

Tony Benn died in March 2014, aged 88.

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