Search

Obituary: Political figures and former colleagues in Camden remember Tony Benn

15:00 19 March 2014

Tony Benn at home in Holland Park in 2008. Picture: Nigel Sutton.

Tony Benn at home in Holland Park in 2008. Picture: Nigel Sutton.

© Nigel Sutton 17 Redington Rd,London,NW37QX. Phone 020 7794 3008. email pictures@nigelsuttonphotography.com

Political figures and former colleagues have remembered Labour stalwart Tony Benn following his death aged 88.

Tony Benn at an Animal Aid-sponsored walk on Hampstead Heath in 2006. Picture: Nigel Sutton.Tony Benn at an Animal Aid-sponsored walk on Hampstead Heath in 2006. Picture: Nigel Sutton.

The father-of-four, who served as a Labour MP between 1950 and 2001, died surrounded by family at his Holland Park home on Friday.

He is considered one of the most prominent left-wing Labour figures of the last century, described as an “iconic figure of our age” by Labour leader Ed Miliband.

Hampstead and Kilburn MP Glenda Jackson, who spent nine years in Parliament with Mr Benn, said: “He was always interesting to speak to, even if rarely did I agree with what he had to say. He was always enormously courteous to everybody.

“It’s always sad when someone dies but equally he had a remarkably rich life and I think one should be grateful that we were around when he was.”

Mr Benn first entered Parliament in 1950 after winning a by-election in the now defunct constituency of Bristol South East, an office he held for a decade.

In 1960, Mr Benn was forced to step down following the death of his father, Viscount Stansgate, which meant he automatically became a peer and was thus prevented from sitting in the House of Commons.

He subsequently campaigned for the right to disclaim peerages and was instrumental in ensuring the passing of the Peerage Act 1963, which enabled him to dispense of his hereditary title and return to the commons as an MP for Bristol South East.

In the 1964 government of Harold Wilson, Mr Benn became postmaster general and worked with Camden Town artist David Gentleman, 84, in designing the first experimental postage stamps dispensing with the then mandatory portrait of the Queen.

Mr Gentleman, of Gloucester Crescent, said: “What changed was that he was prepared to widen the subjects that were considered possible [on stamps].

“When Churchill died, he was the first commoner ever to appear on the stamp and, at that time, this seemed noteworthy.”

In the Labour government of 1974, Mr Benn became secretary of state for industry and made a lasting impression on Kentish Town resident Lord Peter Melchett, 65, then a junior minister.

“He was extremely conscientious about drafting and redrafting letters to people who others might have seen as not being important enough,” said Lord Melchett.

“There were other sides to his politics that get lots of attention but that was the best example I saw of a representative taking the role seriously.”

Following the resignation of Mr Wilson as Labour leader and Prime Minister in 1976, Mr Benn competed in the leadership race but eventually pulled out to support close ally Michael Foot.

Former chairman of Hampstead Labour party Barry Peskin held a number of meetings in the area around this time to build support for Mr Benn’s leadership bid.

Mr Peskin said: “He’s a sad loss for the Labour movement and for that to happen in the same week as Bob Crow’s death is a big loss.”

When Labour was in opposition in the 1980s, Mr Benn became a prominent figure on the party’s left wing and the term “Bennite” was coined to describe someone with radical left-wing politics.

After leaving parliament, Mr Benn became president of the Stop the War Coalition from 2001 until his death.

Camden Council leader Cllr Sarah Hayward said: “Tony Benn has left an indelible mark on the history and direction of the Labour Party and left wing politics generally.”

0 comments

Latest News Stories

Saturday, February 6, 2016
The Mayor of Haringey Cllr Jennifer Mann, signs Hornsey Pensioners Action group's Dignity Action Day petition  calling for Better Care Now! Photo: Nigel Sutton

Intrepid members of Hornsey Pensioners’ Action Group braved Storm Henry to call for the rights of elderly people as part of Dignity Action Day on February 1.

Saturday, February 6, 2016
The Highgate Society debated the economics of austerity with Vicky Pryce, and Ewen Stewart with students, Benedict Milner from Highgate School and Zelda Feldman from La Sainte Union School.

Vicky Pryce, the Greek-born economist who was jailed for perverting the course of justice, told an audience in Highgate last night that austerity is not the answer to the UK’s economic problems.

Saturday, February 6, 2016
Lynne Featherstone celebrates the release of her book Equal Ever After outoside the House of Lords. Photo: Polly Hancock

Lynne Featherstone, former MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, didn’t waste much time after losing her seat in the Lib Dem cull of last year’s general election.

Saturday, February 6, 2016
The Queen Mother opening the hospice

It is a national charity which traces its roots to Hampstead – and now it is appealing for new recruits in its hospice.

Friday, February 5, 2016
Crouch End neighbourhood forum members Dave Winskill, Sally Mustoe & Mark Afford

Friday, February 5, 2016
Headteacher John Dowd spoke at the tribunal. Picture: Nigel Sutton

An employment tribunal has today rejected a former teaching assistant’s claims that she was discriminated against because of her disability.

Friday, February 5, 2016
James Flanagan was jailed for the assault

A Kentish Town man has been jailed for a “sustained, cowardly and vicious” attack which left a top sports journalist in a coma.

Friday, February 5, 2016
The proposed strike has been called off Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

A 48-hour Tube strike due to start tomorrow evening has been called off.

Most read news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

Competitions

Sony Smart Ultra HD 55'' LED TV

Enjoy the ultimate entertainment experience in your living room with the Sony Smart Ultra 55’’ LED TV. Be the envy of all your friends with this huge TV- you can change your living room into your own cinema! Get the boys around to watch the football or get the girls around to watch the DVD of 50 Shades.. this is a prize that everyone would enjoy! Stand a chance to upgrade your current entertainment system by wining this fantastic prize.

Surface Pro 4

Technology is ever evolving. We are constantly being shown new technology that is innovative, revolutionary and designed to make life easier for us all. Gone are the days of dial up modems and computers so large you needed half a room to store it. We are in the age of smooth, small and sleek. Companies are all trying their best to create technology that is easy to transport and guaranteed to be user friendly.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe