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January 22, 2004

Comments

Mick Hartley

Yes, it is one of the great mysteries of our time: why is Tony Benn liked by so many people? You mentioned how smug you felt in your youthful questioning of Benn, but that is surely the most appropriate word for the man himself. He is completely, totally, smug. There's not a hint of doubt in his self-image as man of probity, integrity, etc. etc.. In fact his self-regard is almost heroic. I can't stand the man, but for a lot of people the image is so compellingly presented that they buy the whole package.

David T

I have absolutely no idea why the man - who let us not forget, shut down Radio Caroline - is so beloved. I have heard him speak on about 10 occasions and each time he has given the same speech. He reminds me of a club circuit comedian who is past his sell by date.

Although this is not generally known, it is rumoured that he has a form of leukemia, although it is not a life threatening form as far as I know.

Barry Meislin

Thanks for laughs....

Peter Cuthbertson

You might at least give Powell credit for pioneering, twenty-five years before you were that Benn-badgering undergraduate, the economics you defend daily on this blog, Oliver.

Patrick B

"..it is one of the great mysteries of our time: why is Tony Benn liked by so many people?"

Because he's the Peter Pan of the Left. His views remind people of their adolescent utopianism. Unlike most people, however, Benn has never grown up. And, as an aging "eternal youth", his diaries are little more than a teenager's masturbation fantasies.

Ben

Perhaps Benn can be best described as pretentious.

Gupta

"Because he's the Peter Pan of the Left. His views remind people of their adolescent utopianism. Unlike most people, however, Benn has never grown up. And, as an aging "eternal youth", his diaries are little more than a teenager's masturbation fantasies."

Wilson wasn't much of a Prime Minister, but his remark of Benn that "He immatures with age." was spot on.

I surprised that Oliver hasn't mentioned Benn's rank hypocrisy in retaining his ministerial Rover while his colleagues in the Campaign Group at least at the honesty to resign in protest at the 1977 cuts.

Poosh

'least McCarthy was right.

GrimReaper

The portrayal of Powell as a bigot goes on long after his death. Someone who knew India well and saw the horrors of Partition in 1947 was bound to be sceptical about the merits of a multi-cultural society. If Britain's muslims choose to join the Jihad against the Western democracies, we shall yet see his "Tiber foaming with blood".

Richard Bayley

Gupta, Oliver probably didn't post about Benn being out of step with his Campaign Group colleagues in 1977, because the Campaign Group didn't actually exist in 1977. (I don't think he even joined the Tribune group until 1979.)
Still, don't let such a small thing as facts get in the way of your rant.

George Owers

You lot should get a grip. Tony Benn is so admired because he is a principled man, an honest man and a man with the sort of idealism that you cynics can only scoff at. He is one of the few men in recent political history with any sort of vision or conviction.
Your arguments are quite short sighted anyway. Benn backed concorde because of the employment it brought to Britain, and the oppurtunity it presented to our industries to frame British technological prowess.
He didn't support giving up socialist principles purely to get elected. He supported the ideas that the Labour party was founded on. He backed the backbone of the Labour party, Trade Unions, when others betrayed them and left them to the ravages of Thatcherism, like Kinnock. It is New Labour and its predecessors, namely Kinnock and the SDP traitors, who are responsible for the decline of socialism in this country, a decline which will be temporary.
He also supported democratic reform, openness and giving power to the workers in tangible form. In the 70s it was he who called for Labour cabinets and shadow cabinets to publish the minutes of their meetings so that they would be accountable and open. It was people like he and Michael Foot who upheld the values of Socialism and the values of integrity. Just because they had the dedication and humanity to retain their convictions despite a growing shift to the right and a growing propensity to sacrifice principles to gain power, people like you use them as easy targets when the real people Labour loyalists should be blaming are Blair and his cronies. They may have failed, but at least they weren't treacherous little quislings.

Simon Stiel

If there is anyone who should get a grip, it is the admirers of Benn. As Oliver mentioned, he is one of the most incompetent men ever to grace the seats of the House of Commons and has a penchant for dictators. In addition, it is selfish and wrong to enjoy a privileged lifestyle and then commit yourself to denying it to others as he has done.

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