Friday, 14 March 2014

Leftwing Loses Icons

Its by a strange coincidence, that this week the Left-wing lost another of its 'icons' after the unexpected death of Bob Crow the trades union leader, when today Tony Benn died. He was a politician who while feted over by many socialists and others on the Left, was equally despised and detested by many others both in his own party (mainly for giving far left infiltrators free rein when he was on the party executive), and those not in his party, including by me.

But Mr Crow's death will be largely overshadowed by the coverage of Benn's death, whose passing will no doubt evoke 'fulsome praise' among the chattering lefty classes, including the BBC, who even led the 'tributes' by saying that "Cameron praises 'magnificent' Benn" ... actually Cameron said "Tony Benn was a magnificent writer, speaker and campaigner. There was never a dull moment listening to him, even if you disagreed with him." .. which is not actually the same thing, but as he was one of their own (he worked briefly as a BBC Radio producer), that spin is perhaps not surprising.

Personally, I will not remember him as anything but a man who was on the wrong side of the argument of almost every issue. His anti-nuclear bomb stance, was never going to endear him to many, especially as it was at the height of the cold war, and at a time when many felt that the British socialist movement was drifting into a Pro-Soviet position. We even had rumours of a military coup if a far left Labour party had won the 1970 elections ... but they didn't, and Benn never got in a position to push his personal agenda on to the national or International stage. But it was a close thing, as he and like minded others almost took over the Labour party in the early 1970's.

Now for all those who point out that in 1963, he became first Peer to renounce his title (2nd Viscount Stansgate), so that he could re-stand as an MP, I'll merely point out that he didn't renounce the title for his family and children .... With his death the title passed on to the next in line, his elder son Stephen Benn. Tony Benn's sons are in remainder to the Benn 'Baronetcy of The Old Knoll', which if it becomes vested on that cadet branch of the family, would, as with its present holder, entitle its most senior male to the use of the formal style "Sir". So the family will continue to reap whatever benefits there are in both having members in the Houses of parliament and also in the aristocracy. One of his sons, Hilary is an MP for Leeds at the moment ... which is spookily an almost hereditary anointment (in a Kim Il Sun kinda way), which socialism seems to find attractive.

His personal agenda included for example, his proposal of issuing stamps without the Sovereign's head ... the development of Concorde (a technological dead end if ever there was one), at the expense of Blue Streak Rocket. He also publicly supported Sinn Féin, and the unification of Ireland, and after Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands in April 1982, he 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. In effect that might was right, and that Argentina could therefore keep the islands.

The years didn't mellow his tendency to pick bad causes, and if anything, he became more extreme ... for instance in June 1992, he proposed the 'Commonwealth of Britain' Bill, which involved abolishing the monarchy in favour of the United Kingdom becoming a "democratic, federal and secular commonwealth", and a Republic with a written constitution.

In 2008, at the 'Stop the War Conference 2009', he described the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as "Imperialist wars", and said that the killing of American and allied troops by Iraqi or foreign insurgents (including presumably 'British' jihadist tourist terrorists), might in fact be described as the actions of freedom fighters, and comparing the insurgents to a British 'Dad's Army' against the Nazi's.

But by then he was old, and having never had the power to wreck the country as he undoubtedly would have done in my opinion, he suddenly became 'Good old Tony' and was treated like the doyen of elder statesmen - which really he never was. He was in fact an old far left socialist (what's the difference between that and communist?) ... who was on the wrong side of history from the start.

Ultimately he was an ineffectual politician in many ways, having never held a higher office than Post Master General, a post long since scrapped (like much else of what he promoted), and consigned to the dustbin of history, with little left of a political legacy. Except perhaps his a forerunner to the devolution bill the 'Commonwealth of Britain', which could end up being the ghostly blue print of what Britain will become if the SNP don't get full independence, but get offered 'Devo Max' (or a 'Britain of equal partners' as Gordon Brown described it this week), to bribe them.

They Say You Are Measured By The Company You Keep

But I have absolutely no doubt that this won't stop him being lauded as a 'political giant' by all the left and their media allies ... and I suspect that this praise will be more fulsomely delivered, than the mealy mouthed praise those same organisations gave to Mrs Thatcher, who love her or loathe her, really was a 'political giant'.

However he does have one thing in common with Mrs Thatcher, and that is that they both stood for something. You might not agree with that something, but it was something ..... and that's more than most of today's spineless tranche can claim.     


  1. He was right about opposing Europe as nothing more than a German dominated club, originally formed by the French to get 'retributions' from the Krauts, but which ultimately would become a federal state.

    For that him and Enoch Powell should have been listened too.

    1. Well the observation that it was to make the Germans 'pay' for the occupation of France that the EU Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) was devised was not new, or original to those two politicians, but it was eloquently stated by Benn (and no doubt by Powell as well?).

      However like like most 'cunning plans' (and Scottish Devolution springs instantly to mind), it soon fell foul of the 'Law Of Unexpected Consequences", and now eats up most of the EU's funds, and somewhat ironically the French tried to stop it being paid in vast amounts to the Polish, (who deserved 'retributions from Germany as much, if not more than the French!).

      Thanks for the comment.


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