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Mainstream, Vol LII, No 15, April 5, 2014

Tony Benn’s Death marks End of an Era

Sunday 6 April 2014

communication

With the passing of Anthony Wedgewood Benn (Tony Benn) an era has come to an end for radical socialism in Britain.

Though he was born in an aristocratic family Mr Benn renounced his peerage in order to serve in the House of Commons which he entered as an MP in November 1950. Throughout his life Mr Benn served the cause of the working class in Britain with a passion and dedication rarely seen in modern British politics. There is no doubt that he was a polarising figure who evoked extremes of aversion and admiration in equal measure. He was a persona non grata for the establishment, However the response to his death in Britain shows that he was held in high regard notwithstanding the fact that many people disliked his brand of politics.

I had the rare opportunity to meet and interview him in London on December 10, 1986 in connection with my research project. I was moved by the generosity and courtesy he extended to me during the one hour he spared from his extremely busy schedule.

Notwithstanding the constant vilification he endured throughout his life Mr Benn would go down as one of the iconic figures in modern British politics. He displayed a rare brand of integrity and character which future generations of politicians in any country would do well to emulate.

Jadavpur University,

Kolkata Purusottam Bhattacharya