14 Mar 2014

RIP Tony Benn



Former cabinet minister and veteran left-wing campaigner Tony Benn has died at home, his family has said.
The 88-year-old former Labour MP had been seriously ill.

Mr Benn became an MP in November 1950 and served in the cabinet under Harold Wilson and James Callaghan.

A major figure on the left of the party, he narrowly missed out on the deputy leadership in 1981 and was a popular public speaker, anti-war campaigner and political diarist.

Tony Benn

Tony Benn

In a statement, his children Stephen, Hilary, Melissa and Joshua said Mr Benn died peacefully early this morning at his home in west London surrounded by his family.
"We will miss above all his love which has sustained us throughout our lives," the family said.

"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."

They said arrangements for his funeral would be announced in due course.

'I'm harmless now.' That's how Tony Benn summed up his own transformation from the man many in the Labour Party blamed for making them unelectable to the nation's political grandfather.”
Aged just 25 when he first entered Parliament, Mr Benn subsequently renounced his peerage, which he inherited on his father's death, to remain in the House of Commons.
He served as an MP for more than 50 years, becoming secretary of state for industry in 1974 under Harold Wilson and going on to become secretary of state for energy, keeping his post when James Callaghan became PM in 1976.

But after the Labour government was ousted in 1979, he staged a bitterly divisive battle as the champion of the left with Denis Healey for the deputy leadership of the party.
He retired from Parliament in 2001, famously saying he wanted to "spend more time on politics"

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