TONY BENN (1925-2014)

Tony Benn

Tony Benn

He was a friend of Ireland, it is true — I often heard him speak on Irish solidarity platforms in England. I don’t remember him supporting the hunger strikers in 1981, however. You may recall that Concannon, representing the Labour Party, visited the dying Bobby Sands to tell him that Labour would not support him or his comrades. In London, we marched to Benn’s house (VERY long, hot  march) to get him to break with Labour on this but I don’t remember whether we were successful.

In the balance must also be put that when Secretary of State for Energy in a Labour Government, along with the rest of the Gvt, he conspired to break the embargo on apartheid South Africa by covertly selling them oil routed through Portuguese African colonies.

Someone referred to him as an “Ant-fascist fighter” — I don’t know about that.  He served as a pilot in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and South Africa during the war.  Hundreds of thousands joined up during those years and many others were conscripted.  His reasons for joining could have been any, whatever  he may have said afterwards.  He certainly didn’t fight fascists on the streets of Britain as some did, both before and after the War.

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