Tony Benn dies

tony bennTony Benn, the veteran left-wing politician who was Bristol South East MP for more than 30 years, died today at the age of 88.

Tributes have been paid to Mr Benn who passed away peacefully at his home and a book of condolence has been placed by his bust in the Council House in Bristol for people to share their memories and thoughts.

Kerry McCarthy, Labour’s Bristol East MP, said so many people loved and admired Mr Benn. “He was a very kind, generous person who had time for people as well as being this big national figures in politics,” she said.

St George West Labour councillor Ron Stone, who knew Mr Benn for over half a century, said: “He was the finest constituency MP you would ever find.”

He also called him a “great communicator” who could help people understand complex issues.

Labour & Co-Operative councillor for St George East, Fabian Breckels, said he was “stunned” by the new of Mr Benn’s death: “He was a key figure in East Bristol politics for years and will be missed.”

South Bristol MP and  Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons Dawn Primarolo, who knew Tony Benn for 38 years, said: “He was a hugely talented generous man who passionately believed that all of us had something to contribute.

“He believed that democracy was about pooling our ideas and building a better world.  He believed people in power should always be held to account.”

And Jo McCarron, Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for Kingswood, said: “Very sad to hear of the death of the great Tony Benn – a truly inspirational man.”

Conservative Treasury Minister Sajid Javid, who went to Downend School, tweeted: “As young boy in Bristol, grew up admiring Tony Benn, despite politics. Very sad to hear he has passed away. A man of principle and compassion.”

Tony Benn entered Parliament in December 1950 as the youngest MP in the chamber. During his career he was Secretary of State for Industry in 1974 under Harold Wilson and went on to become Secretary of State for Energy.

In 1983, boundary changes saw his Bristol South East seat disappear and he lost the new seat of Bristol East to Conservative Jonathan Sayeed.

He was not out of Parliament for long and won the 1984 Chesterfield by-election. Tony Benn  finally stood down from Parliament before the 2001 election in order, as he put it, “to spend more time on politics”.