Tony Benn

Infobox Politician
honorific-prefix = The Right Honourable
name= Tony Benn



imagesize=200px
office = Secretary of State for Energy
primeminister = Harold Wilson
James Callaghan
term_start = 4 August 1975
term_end = 4 May 1979
predecessor = Eric Varley
successor = David Howell
office2 = Secretary of State for Industry
term_start2 = 10 May 1974
term_end2 = 4 August 1975
primeminister2 = Harold Wilson
predecessor2 = Peter Walker
(Trade and Industry)
successor2 = Eric Varley
primeminister2 = Harold Wilson
office3 = Minister of Technology
term_start3 = 4 July 1966
term_end3 = 19 June 1970
predecessor3 = Frank Cousins
successor3 = Geoffrey Rippon
constituency_MP5 = Bristol South East
term_start6 = 30 November 1950
term_end6 = 4 May 1961
predecessor6 = Stafford Cripps
successor6 = Malcolm St. Clair
term_start5 = 20 August 1963
term_end5 = 9 June 1983
predecessor5 = Malcolm St. Clair
successor5 = Constituency Abolished
constituency_MP4 = Chesterfield
majority4 = 24,633 (46.5%)
term_start4 = 1 March 1984
term_end4 = 7 June 2001
predecessor4 = Eric Varley
successor4 = Paul Holmes
birth_date =birth date and age|1925|04|3|df=yes
birth_place = Marylebone, London, England
party = Labour Party

Anthony "Tony" Neil Wedgwood Benn (born 3 April 1925), formerly 2nd Viscount Stansgate, is a British socialist politician.

He was instrumental in the creation of the Peerage Act 1963. During the 1970s and 1980s, he was the prominent figure on the left of the Labour Party.

In the 1970s Harold Wilson government, he initially served as Secretary of State for Industry before being transferred to Secretary of State for Energy. When Wilson retired in 1976, Benn retained his post under the new Prime Minister, James Callaghan.

After John Parker, he is Labour's longest serving member of parliament. He is known as one of the few UK politicians to have become left-wing after holding ministerial office. [Tony Benn, "Dare to be A Daniel: Then and Now" (Arrow Books, 2006, ISBN 0-09-947153-1), p.166] He also has become ever more interested in the grass-roots politics of demonstrations and meetings, and ever less in parliamentary activities. Despite his left-wing politics, Benn is admired (and even promoted) by right-wing British media and politiciansFact|date=August 2008. He has been a vegetarian since the 1970s.

The term "Bennite" has come to be used in Britain for someone of a radical democratic left-wing position. [ [http://pubs.socialistreviewindex.org.uk/sr205/labour.htm Socialist Review, February 1997 - Does Labours Left Have an Alternative?] ]

Early life and family

Benn's paternal grandfather was Sir John Benn, 1st Baronet and his father was the 1st Viscount Stansgate. In October 1973 he announced on BBC radio that he wished to be known as "Mr Tony Benn". His book "Speeches" from 1974 is credited to "Tony Benn", but much of the media persisted with "Anthony Wedgwood Benn" into the late 1980s. He was frequently known to the public as "Wedgwood Benn" or "Wedgy Benn", the latter usually with pejorative connotations.

His father William Wedgwood Benn was a Liberal Member of Parliament (MP) who defected to Labour and was later elevated to the House of Lords with the title of 1st Viscount Stansgate. Both his grandfathers Sir John Williams Benn (who founded the family publishing house) and Daniel Holmes were also Liberal MPs (respectively, for St. George's, Tower Hamlets, Devonport and Glasgow Govan). Benn's contact with leading people of the day thus goes back to his earliest years as a result of his family's profile; he met David Lloyd George when he was twelve and Mahatma Gandhi in 1931 while his father was Secretary of State for India.

His mother Margaret Eadie (née Holmes) (1897–1991), was a dedicated theologian, founder President of the Congregational Federation and feminist. She was member of the "League of the Church Militant" which was the predecessor of the "Movement for the Ordination of Women". In 1925 she was rebuked by Randall Thomas Davidson, the then Archbishop of Canterbury, for advocating the ordination of women. Margaret Wedgwood Benn was ahead of her time, as it would not occur until more than 60 years later. His mother's theology had a profound influence on Tony, as she taught him to support the prophets and not the kings, as the prophets taught righteousness. [Tony Benn "Free Radical", 2003, Continuum, p226.]

He was a pupil at Westminster School and studied at New College, Oxford where he read Philosophy, Politics and Economics, during which time he was elected as President of the Oxford Union. In later life Benn attempted to remove public references to his private education from "Who's Who"; in the 1975 edition his entry stated "Education—still in progress". In the 1976 edition, almost all details of his biography were omitted save for his name, jobs as a Member of Parliament and as a Government minister, and address; the publishers confirmed that Benn had sent back his draft entry with everything else struck through."Mr Benn wipes away his past", The Times Diary, "The Times", 18 March 1976.] In the 1977 edition, Benn's entry disappeared entirely."Not Out", The Times Diary, "The Times", 4 April 1977.]

Benn met US-born Caroline Middleton DeCamp (born 13 October 1926) (from Cincinnati, Ohio, daughter of a lawyer) over tea at Worcester College in 1949 and nine days later he proposed to her on a park bench in the city. Later, he bought the bench from Oxford City Council and installed it in the garden of their house in Holland Park. Tony and Caroline had four children - Stephen, Hilary, Melissa (a journalist) and Joshua, and ten grandchildren. Caroline Benn died of cancer on 22 November 2000 aged 74 after a career as a prominent educationalist.

In July 1943, Benn joined the Royal Air Force. [http://www.thebiographychannel.co.uk/biography_story/455:0/1/Tony_Benn.htm Tony Benn] , "The Biography Channel". Retrieved on 2 April 2007.] His father and brother Michael (who was later killed in an accident) were already serving in the RAF in 1943. Whilst holding the rank of pilot officer, Tony Benn served as a pilot in South Africa and Rhodesia. [http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/TUbenn.htm William Wedgwood Benn] , "Spartacus Educational". Retrieved on 2 April 2007.]

His children have also been active in politics. His first son Stephen served as an elected member of the Inner London Education Authority from 1986 to 1990. His second son Hilary served as a councillor in London, and stood for Parliament in 1983 and 1987, finally becoming the Labour MP for Leeds Central in 1999. He served as Secretary of State for International Development from 2003, moving to become Environment Secretary in 2007. This makes him the third generation of his family to have sat in the Cabinet of the Government of the United Kingdom, a rare distinction for a modern political family in Britain. In September 2007, shortly before her 18th birthday, Benn's granddaughter Emily, was selected to contest East Worthing and Shoreham in the next general election, [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7011922.stm Benn's granddaughter runs for MP] , BBC News, 25 September 2007.] and is the Labour Party's youngest ever selected candidate Fact|date=March 2008.

Tony Benn is a cousin of the late actress, Dame Margaret Rutherford.

Member of Parliament

Following his World War II service as a pilot in the Royal Air Force, Benn worked briefly as a BBC Radio producer. He was unexpectedly selected to follow Stafford Cripps as Labour candidate for Bristol South East after Cripps stood down for ill health and won the seat in a by-election on 30 November 1950. Anthony Crosland helped him get the seat as he was MP for nearby South Gloucestershire at the time. Upon taking the oath on 4 December 1950 [ [http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/search/benn?year=1950 Hansard] ] Benn became the youngest MP, or "Baby of the House" for one day, being succeeded by Thomas Teevan, who was two years younger but took his oath a day later. [ [http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/search/teevan Hansard] ] He became "Baby" again in 1951 when Teevan was not re-elected. Benn in the 1950s was an MP with middle-of-the-road or soft left views, who refused to become a member of the group around Aneurin Bevan.

Peerage reform

Benn's father had been created Viscount Stansgate in 1942 when Winston Churchill offered to increase the number of Labour Peers; at this time Benn's older brother Michael was intending to enter the priesthood and had no objections to inheriting a peerage. However Michael was later killed in an accident while on active service in the Second World War, and this left Benn as the heir to a peerage. He made several attempts to remove himself from the line of succession but they were all unsuccessful.

In November 1960, Benn's father died and as a result he was prevented from sitting in the House of Commons. Still insisting on his right to abandon his unwelcome peerage, Benn fought to retain his seat in a by-election on 4 May 1961 caused by his succession. Although he was disqualified from taking his seat, the people of Bristol South-East re-elected him. An election court found that the voters were fully aware that Benn was disqualified, and gave the seat to the Conservative runner up in the by-election, Malcolm St Clair, also the son of a peer.

Outside Parliament Benn continued his campaign, and eventually the Conservative government accepted the need for a change in the law. [cite news |url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/82121.stm|title=Disclaiming a peerage|work=BBC News|publisher=British Broadcasting Corporation|location=London |date=2005-07-14 |accessdate=2008-06-07] The Peerage Act 1963, allowing renunciation of peerages, was given the Royal Assent and became law shortly after 6pm on 31 July 1963. Benn was the first peer to renounce his title, at 6.22pm that day. St. Clair had already given an undertaking that he would respect the wishes of the people of Bristol if Benn became eligible to take his seat again, and resigned his seat immediately. Benn returned to the Commons after winning a by-election on 20 August.

In government (1964–1970)

In the 1960s government of Harold Wilson he became Postmaster General; during his time in that position, he oversaw the opening of the Post Office Tower, and the creation of the Postal Bus Service. He proposed issuing stamps without the Sovereign's head, but this met with private opposition from the Queen. Instead, the portrait was reduced to a small profile in silhouette, a format that is still often used on stamps today. [ [http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/s2.cfm?id=550942006 80 fascinating facts about the Queen] , "The Scotsman", 11 April 2006 (the first of the "10 more things you may not know" near the bottom discusses postage stamps)] He later became Minister of Technology, a post which allowed his enthusiasm for gadgets to shine through, including responsibility for overseeing the development of Concorde, as well as the formation of International Computers Ltd. (ICL).

Labour lost the 1970 general election to Edward Heath's Conservatives. Heath applied to join the European Economic Community and Benn campaigned for a referendum on the UK's membership. The Shadow Cabinet voted for a referendum on 29 March 1972 and as a result Roy Jenkins resigned as Deputy Leader of the Labour Party.

In government (1974–1979): the move to the left

In the Labour government of 1974 Benn became Secretary of State for Industry, but in 1975 he was moved to Secretary of State for Energy, following his unsuccessful campaign for a "No" vote in the referendum on the UK's membership of the EEC. By his own admission in his diary (25 October 1977), Benn "loathed" the EEC; he claimed it was "bureaucratic and centralised" and "of course it is really dominated by Germany. All the Common Market countries except the UK have been occupied by Germany, and they have this mixed feeling of hatred and subservience towards the Germans." [Tony Benn, "The Benn Diaries" (Arrow, 1995), p. 432.]

Wilson resigned as Leader of the Labour Party and Prime Minister in 1976. Benn entered the leadership contest and came fourth with 37 votes in the first ballot. Benn then withdrew from the second ballot and supported Michael Foot for the leadership but James Callaghan won instead. There was then a sterling crisis and Callaghan and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Healey, sought to gain a loan from the International Monetary Fund. Benn circulated amongst Ministers the Cabinet minutes from the 1931 minority Labour government of Ramsay MacDonald which cut unemployment benefits to secure a loan from American bankers and resulted in splitting the Labour Party. Callaghan allowed Benn to put forward his "alternative economic strategy", which consisted of a siege economy. However this plan was rejected by the Cabinet.

By the end of the 1970s Benn had migrated to the left wing of the Labour Party. Benn attributed this political shift to his experience as a minister in the 1964–1970 Labour government. Benn wrote:

As a minister, I experienced the power of industrialists and bankers to get their way by use of the crudest form of economic pressure, even blackmail, against a Labour Government. Compared to this, the pressure brought to bear in industrial disputes is minuscule. This power was revealed even more clearly in 1976 when the IMF secured cuts in our public expenditure. These lessons led me to the conclusion that the UK is only superficially governed by MPs and the voters who elect them. Parliamentary democracy is, in truth, little more than a means of securing a periodical change in the management team, which is then allowed to preside over a system that remains in essence intact. If the British people were ever to ask themselves what power they truly enjoyed under our political system they would be amazed to discover how little it is, and some new Chartist agitation might be born and might quickly gather momentum. [Tony Benn, "Out of the Wilderness: Diaries 1963-7", Introduction]

Benn's philosophy became known as "Bennism", which consisted of a form of syndicalism, economic planning, greater democracy in the structures of the Labour Party and observance of Party conference decisions by the Party leadership. [Dennis Kavanagh, 'Tony Benn: Nuisance or Conscience?', in Kavanagh (ed.), "Politics and Personalities" (Macmillan, 1990), p. 184.] Benn was vilified in the press and his enemies implied a Benn-led Labour government would implement a type of East European socialism. [Ibid., p. 178.] Conversely, Benn was overwhelmingly popular with Labour activists. A survey of Labour Conference delegates of 1978 found that by large margins they supported Benn for the leadership and many Bennite policies. [Paul Whiteley and Ian Gordon, "The Labour Party: Middle Class, Militant and Male", "New Statesman", 11 January 1980, pp. 41-42.]

He publicly supported Sinn Féin and the unification of Ireland, although he has recently suggested to Sinn Féin leaders that Sinn Féin abandon its long-standing policy of not taking seats at Westminster. Sinn Féin argue that to do so would recognise Britain's claim over Northern Ireland and the Sinn Féin constitution prevents its elected members from taking their seats in any British-created institution.

In opposition

In a keynote speech to the Labour Party Conference of 1980, Benn outlined what he envisaged the next Labour government would do. "Within days" a Labour government would grant powers to nationalise industries, control capital and implement industrial democracy; "within weeks" all powers from Brussels would be returned to Westminster and then they would abolish the House of Lords by the creation of a thousand peers and then by abolishing the peerage. Benn received a tumultuous applause from the audience.In 1981 he stood for election against the incumbent Denis Healey as Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, disregarding the appeal from party leader Michael Foot either to stand for the leadership or to abstain from inflaming the party's divisions. Benn defended his decision with an insistence that it was "not about personalities but about policies." The contest was closely fought and Healey won by a margin of barely 1%. The decision of several moderate left wing MPs, including Neil Kinnock, to abstain from supporting Benn triggered the split of the Campaign Group from the left of the Tribune Group.

After Argentina had invaded the Falkland Islands in April 1982 Benn argued that the dispute should be settled by the United Nations and that the British Government should not send a task force to recapture the islands. The task force was sent and the Falklands was soon back in British control. In a subsequent debate in the Commons, Benn's demand for "a full analysis of the costs in life, equipment and money in this tragic and unnecessary war" was countered by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher stating that "he would not enjoy the freedom of speech that he put to such excellent use unless people had been prepared to fight for it." [cite web |url=http://www.margaretthatcher.org/speeches/displaydocument.asp?docid=104969 |publisher=Margaret Thatcher Foundation |title=HC Stmnt: Falkland Islands, 15 June 1982 |date=1982-06-15 |accessdate=2007-10-04]

Benn's Bristol South-East constituency was abolished by boundary changes in 1983, and he lost the selection battle to stand in the safe seat of Bristol South to Michael Cocks. Rejecting offers from the new seat of Livingston in Scotland, Benn contested Bristol East, losing to Conservative candidate Jonathan Sayeed. As the darling of Labour activists it was not surprising that he was selected for the first Labour seat to fall vacant, and he was elected as MP for Chesterfield in a by-election the following year after Eric Varley had resigned his seat to head Coalite. On the day of the by-election (1 March 1984) "The Sun" newspaper ran a hostile feature article "Benn on the Couch" which purported to be the opinions of an American psychiatrist, a clear attempt to influence the voters. In fact, the psychiatrist had been fed "The Sun's" anonymous version of Benn. In the intervening period, since Benn's defeat in Bristol, another leadership election had taken place in which Neil Kinnock won, and which Benn was not able to contest because he was not an MP.

Benn was a prominent supporter of the UK miners' strike (1984–1985) and his long-standing friend, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) leader Arthur Scargill. Some miners though considered Benn's 1977 industry reforms to have led to problems during the strike: firstly, they led to huge wage differences and distrust between miners of different regions; secondly, the controversy over balloting miners for these reforms made it unclear as to whether a ballot was needed for a strike or whether it could be deemed as a "regional matter" in the same way that the 1977 reforms were.

Benn stood for election as Party Leader in 1988 and lost again, on this occasion by a substantial margin. In the first Gulf War he was active in the anti-war movement and visited Baghdad (after Edward Heath) to persuade Saddam Hussein to release the hostages who had been captured. He was also one of the very few MPs to oppose the Kosovo War. In 1991, he proposed the Commonwealth of Britain Bill. It proposed abolishing the British monarchy, with the United Kingdom becoming a "democratic, federal and secular commonwealth", in effect, a republic with a written constitution. It was read in Parliament a number of times until his retirement at the 2001 general election, but never achieved a second reading.

Retirement

In 2001 Benn retired from Parliament, in his words to "spend more time involved in politics". With Edward Heath, Benn was given the privilege of being able to continue using the House of Commons Library and Members' refreshment facilities by the Speaker. Benn claimed that his retirement allowed him to "devote more time to politics", suggesting that for him 'real politics' is about struggle rather than parliamentary procedure. He became a leading figure of the British opposition to the War on Iraq, and in February 2003 he travelled to Baghdad to again meet (and interview) Saddam Hussein. The interview was shown on British television. He also spoke out against the Iraq war at the February 2003 protest in London organised by the Stop the War Coalition, attended by over 1 million people. In February 2004 he was elected the first President of the Stop the War Coalition.

He has toured with a one-man stage show, and also appears regularly in a two-man show with folk singer Roy Bailey. In 2003 his show with Bailey was voted 'Best Live Act' at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. In 2002 he opened the "Left Field" stage at the Glastonbury Festival. In October 2003 Benn was a guest of British Airways on the last-ever scheduled Concorde flight from New York to London. In June 2005 Benn was a panellist on a special edition of BBC1's "Question Time" (shown 30 June 2005). The special edition was edited entirely by a school age film crew selected by a BBC competition.

On 21 June 2005 Benn presented a show on democracy as part of the Channel 5 series "Big Ideas That Changed The World", he presented a left-wing view [ [http://www.viva.org.uk/celebs/tonybenn_interview.html The Extraordinary Adventures of Mr Benn] ] of democracy as the means to pass power from the "wallet to the ballot". He argued that traditional social democratic values were under threat in an increasingly globalised world in which powerful institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the European Commission remain unelected and unaccountable to those whose lives they affect daily.

On 27 September 2005 Benn was taken ill at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton and taken by ambulance to the Royal Sussex County Hospital after being treated by paramedics at the Brighton Centre. Benn reportedly fell and struck his head. He was to be kept in hospital for observation but was described as being in a "comfortable condition". He was subsequently fitted with an artificial pacemaker to help regulate his heartbeat. In a list compiled by the magazine "New Statesman" in 2006, he was voted twelfth in the list of "Heroes of our time" [cite web |url=http://www.newstatesman.com/200605220016 New Statesman |title=Heroes of our time - the top 50 |last=Cowley | first=Jason |date=22 May 2006 |publisher=New Statesman |accessdate=2007-10-04] .

In September 2006, Benn joined the "Time to Go" Demonstration in Manchester the day before the start of the final Labour Conference with Tony Blair as party leader, with the aim of persuading the Labour Government to withdraw troops from Iraq, to refrain from attacking Iran and to reject replacing the Trident missile and submarines with a new system. He spoke to the demonstrators in the rally afterwards along with other politicians and journalists including George Galloway and members of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. In 2007, he appeared in an extended segment in the Michael Moore film "Sicko" giving comments about democracy, social responsibility, and health care.A poll by the BBC2 "The Daily Politics" programme in January 2007 selected Benn as the UK's "Political hero" with 38.22% of the vote, beating Baroness Thatcher with 35.3% and five other contenders including Alex Salmond, leader of the Scottish National Party; Clare Short, independent MP; Neil Kinnock, previous Labour Party leader; Norman Tebbit, previous Conservative Party chairman and Shirley Williams, one of the 'gang of four' who founded the Social Democratic Party (the forerunner to the Liberal Democrat Party). [cite web |url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/politics_show/6161847.stm |title=The Magnificent Seven political heroes... |date=12 December 2006 |publisher=BBC |accessdate=2007-10-04]

In the 2007 Labour Party leadership election, Tony Benn backed the left wing MP John McDonnell in his unsuccessful bid. In September 2007 Benn called for the government to hold a referendum on the EU Reform Treaty. [cite web |url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7011231.stm |title=Give us EU referendum, says Benn |Publisher=BBC News Online |date=24 September 2007]

In October 2007, at the age of 82, Benn announced that he wanted to come out of retirement and return to the House of Commons, having written to the Kensington and Chelsea constituency Labour Party offering himself as a prospective candidate for the seat currently held by the Conservative Sir Malcolm Rifkind. [cite web |url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7028042.stm |title=I want to be an MP again - Benn |publisher=BBC News online |date=2007-10-04 |accessdate=2007-10-04] [cite web |url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,2183661,00.html |title=Benn: I want to return to parliament |author=Fred Attewill |publisher=The Guardian |date=2007-10-04 |accessdate=2007-10-05]

In September 2008 Tony Benn appeared on the DVD release for the "Doctor Who" story "The War Machines" with a vignette discussing the post office tower which was opened by Harold Wilson when he was postmaster general. He became the second labour politician, after Roy Hattersley to appear in a feature on a Doctor who dvd.

Also in 2008, Benn appeared on track 12 "Pay Attention to the Human" on Colin MacIntyre's The Water album.

Aphorisms

*He is known for saying (in connection with his placing of a plaque in memory of Emily Davison in the House of Commons) "Never ask the authorities for permission - it takes up so much of your time!"Fact|date=February 2007

*"It's very interesting to me that some ex-communists in the Labour party have been able to shift from Stalin to Blair and it hasn't been much of a shift... the shift from Stalin to Blair is a minor adjustment." [cite web |url=http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/podcasts/2006/12/brief_encounter_tony_benn.html |title=Brief encounter: Tony Benn |author=Nick Stadlen QC |Publisher=Guardian Unlimited podcasts |date=7 December 2006 |accessdate=2007-10-04]

*Five questions Benn insists should be asked of any powerful person: "What power have you got? Where did you get it from? In whose interests do you use it? To whom are you accountable? How do we get rid of you?" [cite web |url=http://politics.guardian.co.uk/interviews/story/0,11660,757608,00.html |title=The Stirrer |author=Gary Younge |publisher=The Guardian |date=20 July 2002 |accessdate=2007-10-27]

*"All war represents a failure of diplomacy." [cite web |url=http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/movingwords/celebritychoice/tonybenn.shtml |title=Learning English - Moving Words - Tony Benn |date= |publisher=BBC World Service |accessdate=2007-10-04]

*"There is no moral difference between a Stealth bomber and a suicide bomber. They both kill innocent people for political reasons." [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ZLGHy2WS_M]

*"If we can find the money to kill people, we can find the money to help people." [Interview in the movie "Sicko"]

*In an interview with Wikinews in 2007 Benn agreed with Mrs. Thatcher who, when asked her greatest achievement, said "New Labour". [cite web
url=http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Wikinews_interviews:_Tony_Benn_on_U.K._politics
title=Wikinews interviews: Tony Benn on U.K. politics
accessdate=2007-12-27
]

Diaries and biographies

Tony Benn is a prolific diarist: eight volumes of his diaries have been published (the first six collected as ISBN 0-09-963411-2, the penultimate available as ISBN 0-09-941502-X). He also wrote "Arguments for Socialism" (1979), "Arguments for Democracy" (1981) and (with Andrew Hood) "Common Sense" (1993), as well as "Free Radical: New Century Essays" (2004). In August 2003, London DJ Charles Bailey created an album of Benn's speeches (ISBN 1-904734-03-0) set to ambient groove.

He has also made public several episodes of audio diaries he made during his time in Parliament and after retirement. Short series of these have been played periodically on BBC 7 Radio.

A major biography was written by Jad Adams and published by Macmillan in 1992. "Tony Benn: A Biography" (ISBN 0-333-52558-2) A more recent 'semi-authorised' biography, with a foreword by Benn, was published in 2001: David Powell, "Tony Benn: A Political Life", Continuum Books. An autobiography, "Dare to be a Daniel: Then and Now" (Hutchinson), was published in 2004.

There are substantial essays on Tony Benn in both the "Dictionary of Labour Biography", (Greg Rosen [ed] , Politicos Publishing, 2001) and in "Labour Forces" (Kevin Jefferys [ed] , I. B. Taurus Publishing, 2002).

Michael Moore dedicates his book "Mike's Election Guide 2008" to Tony Benn with: "For Tony Benn, keep teaching us".

In popular culture

* Benn was frequently caricatured by Kenny Everett in "The Kenny Everett Television Show", usually spouting some completely insane policy proposal with the punchline "It's a cracker, isn't it?" (a reference to Frank Carson, a familiar stand-up comedian of the day).
* Benn was portrayed by Geoff Holman in the 2002 BBC production of Ian Curteis's controversial "The Falklands Play".

References

Bibliography

"Diaries:"
*Tony Benn "The Benn Diaries, 1940-90", Arrow Books Ltd (2005)

*Tony Benn "Years of Hope: Diaries, Letters and Papers, 1940-62", Arrow Books Ltd (1995)

*Tony Benn "Out of the Wilderness: Diaries, 1963-67", Arrow Books Ltd (1988)

*Tony Benn "Office Without Power: Diaries, 1968-72", Arrow Books Ltd (1989)

*Tony Benn "Against the Tide: Diaries, 1973-77", Arrow Books Ltd (1990)

*Tony Benn "Conflicts of Interest: Diaries, 1977-80", Arrow Books Ltd (1991)

*Tony Benn "The End of an Era: Diaries 1980-90", Arrow Books Ltd (1994)

*Tony Benn "Free at Last!: Diaries, 1991-2001", Arrow Books Ltd (2003)

*Tony Benn "More Time for Politics: Diaries 2001-2007", Hutchinson (2007)

"Essays/ Biography etc"
*Tony Benn "Levellers and the English Democratic Tradition", Spokesman Books (1976)

*Tony Benn "Why America Needs Democratic Socialism", Spokesman Books (1978)

*Tony Benn "Prospects", Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers, Technical, Administrative and Supervisory Section (1979)

*Tony Benn "Case for Constitutional Civil Service", Inst. for Workers' Control (1980)

*Tony Benn "Case for Party Democracy", Inst. for Workers' Control (1980)

*Tony Benn "Arguments for Socialism", Penguin Books Ltd (1980)

*Tony Benn "Arguments for Democracy", Jonathan Cape (1981)

*Tony Benn "European Unity: A New Perspective", Spokesman Books (1981)

*Tony Benn "Parliament and Power: Agenda for a Free Society", Verso Books (1982)

*Tony Benn & Andrew Hood "Common Sense: New Constitution for Britain", Hutchinson (1993)

*Tony Benn "Free Radical: New Century Essays", Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd (2004)

*Tony Benn "Dare to Be a Daniel: Then and Now", Arrow Books Ltd (2005)

External links

* [http://www.tonybenn.com/ Tony Benn Official site] (currently unavailable until further notice - October 2006)
* [http://www.bennites.com/ Unofficial Tony Benn site with extensive interview, articles, audio & visual]
* [http://www.channel4radio.com/show/index.php?Id=407 Tony Benn Podcast] From Channel 4 Radio, a single 15-minute episode where Tony Benn presents personal thoughts on government, society and control.
*'Face-to-Face with Tony Benn'. [http://www.vega.org.uk/video/programme/26 Freeview video interview by the Vega Science Trust]
* [http://www.channel4.com/news/articles/world/middle_east/the+saddam+hussein+interview/257203 Transcript of Tony Benn's interview with Saddam]
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/1209497.stm Tony Benn: End of an era]
*Andrew Roth. [http://politics.guardian.co.uk/profiles/story/0,9396,-361,00.html Tony Benn Chesterfield and Bristol South East MP] , "The Guardian", 25 March 2001.
* [http://www.bennbiography.com/thebook.html Tony Benn: A Political Life] ISBN 0-8264-5699-5
* [http://www.guardian.co.uk/netnotes/article/0,6729,728418,00.html "Guardian" web guide to the veteran leftwinger Tony Benn]
* [http://www.glastonburyfestivals.co.uk/news/index.asp?id=212 Tony Benn interview for Leftfield appearances] at the Glastonbury Festival
* [http://www.archive.org/details/Benn_Rally_1Feb05_Benn Tony Benn speaking at Anti-War event Manchester, UK, February, 2005] - 20 minute video on the Internet Archive
* [http://www.archive.org/details/Benn_15Mar2006 Tony Benn speaking at Anti-War event in Manchester, UK, 15 March 2006] - 25 minute video on the Internet Archive
*Tony Benn. [http://politics.guardian.co.uk/publicservices/comment/0,11032,1653785,00.html Atomic hypocrisy: West is not in a position to take a high moral line] , "The Guardian", 30 November 2005.
*Amy Goodman. [http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=06/03/10/1451237 Interview with Tony Benn: How Britain secretly helped Israel build its nuclear arsenal] , "Democracy Now!", 10 March 2006.
* [http://www.direct.gov.uk/Gtgl1/GuideToGovernment/InternationalBodies/InternationalBodiesArticles/fs/en?CONTENT_ID=4003092&chk=JXlogH The Commonwealth] - UK government site
* [http://ugandandiscussions.co.uk/covers/147_big.jpgBenn in the 1960s] as seen by "Private Eye"
* [http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/podcasts/2006/12/brief_encounter_tony_benn.html] audio interview with "The Guardian".
* [http://www.thehist.com/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=80&Itemid=455 His Address] to the College Historical Society of Trinity College

Persondata
NAME=Benn, Tony
ALTERNATIVE NAMES=Benn, Anthony Neil Wedgwood; 2nd Viscount Stansgate
SHORT DESCRIPTION=British politician on the left of the Labour Party
DATE OF BIRTH=3 April 1925
PLACE OF BIRTH=
DATE OF DEATH=
PLACE OF DEATH=


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