Friday, June 16, 2006

Podcast 12: Iain Interviews Tony Benn

Tony Benn fascinates me. In the 1970s I regarded him as the devil incarnate. Today I regard him as a friend. We even agree on one or two issues - Europe, Parliament, constitutional issues. A couple of years ago I interviewed him on my Oneword Programme after the latest volume of his diaries was published. We talk in detail about his diaries, his love for his wife Caroline, who had recently died when we recorded the interview. During that part of the interview we both had rather moist eyes. We also talk about his view of New Labour, the job of an MP, the machine of government, democracy and his one man theatre tour.

I've uploaded the whole programme as my latest Podcast, which you can listen to by clicking on the icon at the top of the left hand column.

10 comments:

Bob Piper said...

As Tony says... "They start off accusing you of being mad before labeling you as dangerous and then there’s a pause. Eventually they adopt your views and it’s the same each time with progress.”

The strange thing is that Labour people who on their way into Parliament now try to hide their Bennite past... whereas Tories and Liberals who used to defame and denigrate him now want to own him. As Tony knows, that is because they no longer thinks he represents any threat to their safe establishment... whereas the guilty New Labour ones still know those ideas challenge their comfortable existance.

Anonymous said...

No, Bob, it's because he's an old aristocrat who spends more time attacking 10 years of Labour government than the 18 years of misery we had before.

If people had a Bennite past then they matured.

Croydonian said...

Oh dear, I think I'm about to agree with Bob...

Benn has indeed become a dignified part of the constitution, although I would say that I admired him before it was fashionable because of his sincerity and the consistency of /some/ of his convictions.

A friend of mine who has spent the thick end of 40 years being apolitical ended up speaking to TB when they were both at the Glastonbury festival (long and boring detail removed) and after half an hour with Benn was completely won over to his views.

Meanwhile, I'm vaguely related to Benn, apparently.

Paul Burgin said...

As someone who is Labour, but is substantially more right-wing than Tony Benn, I regard him with some affection and find that on the one or two times I agree with him, I agree with him just about completely
Having met him a few times, albeit briefly, I can also say he is a kind and gracious individual

Paul Burgin said...

Plus, he inspired me to keep a regular diary on tape

Deogolwulf said...

"A friend of mine who has spent the thick end of 40 years being apolitical ended up speaking to TB when they were both at the Glastonbury festival (long and boring detail removed) and after half an hour with Benn was completely won over to his views."

Your friend didn't have a blast on Mr Benn's pipe, did he?

Croydonian said...

Deogulwulf, not as such no. He specialises in tax etc advice for taxi drivers, strippers, musicians and so on and had a back stage base at Glastonbury. Anyway, the organisers asked him if Benn could use his couch for a rest and a conversation ensued. Friend confessed to having no strong politics, and Benn asked him if he had ever knowingly cheated anyone in business. Friend said that he hadn't, and Benn said that that made him a socialist.

Can't say that would have convinced me, but there you are.

phone cam foolery said...

"Benn asked him if he had ever knowingly cheated anyone in business. Friend said that he hadn't, and Benn said that that made him a socialist."

This would be the Tony Benn who placed the family wealth into an offshore trust, away from pip squeaking Dennis Healey as he didn't think his children should suffer due to his socialist principles?

Just like every other commisar
"Do as I say not do as I do"

Griswold said...

What did Tony Benn do for us(when Minister). 'The evil that men do lives on after them, the good is oft interred with their bones.' I think WS got this one arse about face. Next we will be singing the praises of Scargill.

Jonathan said...

Let's remove a few myths shall we, Tony Benn is not an old aristocrat. His father was made a peer due to the lack of Labour representation in the Lords during the Second World War. They were not a titled family previous to that. Neither did he put his money into an offshore trust. It's a shame you can't criticise his politics without personalising.

What did he do for us as minister? Modernised the postoffice, created the giro, brought 25% of North Sea Oil into the country's hands (only for the Thatcherites to squander it on tax cuts for the rich and dole money for the unemployed).

He is also a powerful and longstanding advocate for peace and democracy.