In Memoriam Tony Benn

A tribute to "the greatest leader Labour never had"

I have been a “Bennite” (which became a considerable term of abuse in the 1980s) since the 1960s. I was brought up in a Labour household in which the premiership of Harold Wilson was the sun and Mr Benn was the brightest of the many stars clustered around that Labour cabinet. There were so many stars – James Callaghan, Roy Jenkins, Barbara Castle, Tony Crosland, Richard Crossman, Dennis Healey, George Brown – but even in that company, the young, fresh-faced, bursting with ideas Wedgwood-Benn (as he was then known) stood out.

For us he seemed to exemplify the “white-hot heat” of the “technological revolution” – Mr Wilson’s wheeze for disguising his socialist purpose from a hostile media and the “Gnomes of Zurich” who, even then with their financial power had the means of destroying any real Labour government. Mr Benn was brim-full of innovative unorthodoxy, and seemed just what the doctor ordered.

From his heroic (and successful) fight to remain in

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