Remembering Tony Benn



Much has been said about the political career of Tony Benn since his death last Friday.

What is clear is that whilst the UK media and establishment are content to praise his personal qualities they do not want to give any validity to his ideas.

What is not in doubt was that he was a committed socialist and a conviction politician who believed passionately in social justice for all regardless of race or colour.

With his unstinting support for those leading the Bristol bus boycott because of a colour bar to black employment in the early 1960’s, his support for the Anti-Nazi League in the late 1970’s or his involvement with Unite Against Fascism over the last few years, Tony Benn always stood up against racism and fascism.

What always struck me about him was his willingness to respond when called upon to support the struggles of working people.

He responded to many of the requests that I made for him to speak at meetings and rallies of trade unionists.

Whether it was at rallies against the cuts or union branch meetings, he was always willing to come and talk and do his best to inspire and convince working people of their ability to successfully struggle against injustice and adversity.

Although I did not know him well, what impressed me about him was his quiet humility. Despite his fame, he did not seek affirmation or reverence.

His contributions were always fearless, optimistic, full of humour and were always placed in the context of the historical struggles to demonstrate that through organisation and dedication anything was possible.

As he quite rightly said “hope is the fuel of progress and fear is the prison in which you put yourself”.

We will remember him.