Thirty years ago I regarded Tony Benn as the greatest threat to Britain outside the Soviet Union. Nowadays we agree on Europe, the constitution and threats to civil liberties. I interviewed him last week for the next issue of Total Politics in the endearingly ramshackle basement office of his Holland Park home. I don't go in for Paxman-style interviewing but I quickly learned that you have to challenge some of Tony's wilder assertions. "Thatcher made trade unions illegal." Er, no, she didn't actually. "The Soviet Union posed no military threat." Come again? On most subjects he is incredibly persuasive and it is easy to see why he continues to fill theatres up and down the country. But he still attracts incredible bitterness from those on the Labour right who blame him for the party's 18 years in opposition. When I solicited questions for the interview on my blog I was taken aback by the venom unleashed by people who are normally quite meek and mild. He clearly has something in common with Israel.If you'd like to read the whole interview, and I promise you, it's worth it, click HERE.
Friday, January 23, 2009
When Iain Dale Met Tony Benn
Earlier this month I interviewed Tony Benn for Total Politics. Here's how I described the experience in last week's New Statesman...