national treasure

Tony Benn

Nationalised treasure and man of conviction

Tony Benn,  1925 -  2014Tony Benn, 1925 - 2014
A decent chap? Probably, but a clever politician? That's not so clear. The death of Tony Benn has brought forth fulsome praise for him as a man and a character. Those with long memories will recall when he joined a cause he became the cause. An ideal radio and TV performer Benn never travelled without his pipe or a ready quip, the press loved both. Benn was not our first national treasure but was in a perverse way 'nationalised' very early on in his political career. It was in this form that he took up the cause of opposing European integration. As Helen Szamuely points out he was on the losing side in 1975. It would be wrong to make out he alone was responsible for the defeat but he was very active. So on the one hand he gets praised for his energy but on the other was too easily seduced by the media and his part of it.

And so to Tony Benn's consistent and ideologically pure euroscepticism that began long before the word was invented. There can be no doubt about its sincerity or that he was motivated to a great extent by a love for Parliament and parliamentary democracy. He was also motivated by a fear that, once in the EEC, Britain would never become the socialist country he wanted it to be.

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