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TOPIC: Anniversary A never-ending inspiration

Anniversary A never-ending inspiration 16 Mar 2018 07:10 #6535

  • Paul-UB40
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The rejuvenated Labour Party owes much to the debates, campaigns and activism that Tony Benn was central to, writes ALAN SIMPSON

IT IS four years since the death of my friend and mentor, Tony Benn.

I could argue that he turns up in every article I write, but that’s a poor substitute for the daily conversations into which he poured tea and optimism in equally copious quantities.

Benn would be as excited as anyone about Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell’s leadership of today’s Labour Party — but he would be no less anxious about the bigger canvas upon which a new politics needs to be written.

Many of Benn’s post-parliamentary reflections took account of the time he had to be with his grand-children, and of the uncertain legacy we might leave them.

His thoughts increasingly focused on setting lifelong themes — peace, democracy, equality, international solidarity and social justice — into a context that grasped how runaway climate change could sink everyone’s boats.

In doing so, Tony was, as ever, pre-scripting Corbyn and McDonnell’s most incisive recent speeches, and addressing the real opportunities that Labour’s colossal growth in membership brings with it. As ever, Benn’s thoughts would invite us to look outwards rather than inwards.

I doubt he would have wasted much time on the acrimonious exchanges between Tory factions in the Brexit debacle. His focus would more have been on two different ends of the debate.

At the macro level, Benn would surely be urging Labour to rebuild some of its European fences.

He understood how a retreat into narrow nationalisms twice dragged Europe into catastrophically destructive wars.

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