By Guy Dorrell @GuyDorrellEsq
In March this year, the nation lost an iconic figure from both parliament and the wider political and protest scene with the death of Tony Benn. Once billed as the most dangerous man in Britain, he would later be feted as a national treasure. The son of a Liberal MP and later hereditary peer, Anthony Wedgewood Benn would turn his back on the system that educated him and renounce the peerage that would eventually fall to him, to follow his belief in socialism.
As an MP, Benn got so fed up of the media misquoting him, or simply inventing what he was supposed to have said that he took to recording the recordings interviewers were making of him and also of asking what length of soundbite was required, and giving exactly that length – no more, no less. Prior to one television interview, he overheard a lighting engineer say to the director, “are we lighting for, or against?” Known as a man of pithy and powerful quotes himself, here are ten of his finest – resonating as much with today’s politics and parties as when they were given.
1. If we can find the money to kill people, we can find the money to help people.
2. All war represents a failure of diplomacy.
3. The key to any progress is to ask the question why? All the time. Why is that child poor? Why was there a war? Why was he killed? Why is he in power?
4. Ideas are more powerful than guns.
5. This idea that politics is all about charisma and spin is rubbish. It is trust that matters.
6. Democracy is not just voting every 5 years and watching Big Brother in between and wondering why nothing happens. Democracy is what we do and say where we live and work.
7. I think there are two ways in which people are controlled. First of all frighten people and secondly, demoralize them.
8. I think the SDP really is a very right-wing party. In a funny way it’s more right-wing than Mrs. Thatcher because Mrs. Thatcher is an old-fashioned liberal, if you know what I mean, she believes in market forces and small government.
9. What we lack in Government is entrepreneurial ability.
10. If one meets a powerful person – Rupert Murdoch, perhaps, or Joe Stalin or Hitler – one can ask five questions: what power do you have; where did you get it; in whose interests do you exercise it; to whom are you accountable; and, how can we get rid of you?