Tony Benn dies at 88: 'the loss of an iconic figure of our age'

The 'lodestar for the Labour left' made enemies but was regarded with a good degree of affection

LAST UPDATED AT 09:23 ON Fri 14 Mar 2014

TRIBUTES have poured in for veteran Labour politician Tony Benn, one the country's most outspoken MPs, who has died at the age of 88.

His children, Stephen, Hilary, Melissa and Joshua, today announced that their father had passed away peacefully at his home in west London early this morning surrounded by his family.

"We will miss above all his love which has sustained us throughout our lives. But we are comforted by the memory of his long, full and inspiring life and so proud of his devotion to helping others as he sought to change the world for the better," they said.

Benn had suffered from ill health since a stroke in 2012, reports The Guardian, which describes him as "the lodestar for the Labour left for decades, orator, campaigner, diarist and grandfather" who came to be regarded as an anti-establishment voice for democracy.

Benn entered Parliament in 1950 as MP for Bristol South East, becoming the youngest member of the house at the age of 25. After the death of his father, Viscount Stansgate, in 1960 he became the first peer to renounce his title in order to go on sitting in the House of Commons. During his 50-year parliamentary career, he served as minister for technology, industry and energy, and campaigned against EU membership and the invasion of Iraq.

Labour leader Ed Miliband, who undertook work experience with Benn when he was 16, said his death represents "the loss of an iconic figure of our age". He added that Benn "will be remembered as a champion of the powerless, a great parliamentarian and a conviction politician".

Former foreign secretary Dame Margaret Beckett described Benn as a "brilliant speaker" who "opened people's eyes" and "made them think". She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "He was fantastic. Delightful, friendly, very open minded and interested always in new ideas... a really charming, nice man.

"He made enemies and kept enemies but on the whole I think most people regarded him with a good degree of affection, long before he got sufficiently old, as he said himself, he can't do any more harm."

In an interview with the Daily Mirror last year, Benn said he was not frightened about death: "I don't know why, but I just feel that at a certain moment your switch is switched off and that's it. And you can't do anything about it." · 

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I shudder that such scum speak well of him. HYPOCRITES all, especially LABOUR

It has to be said that Mr Benn regarded himself as an socialist whilst enjoying living in a large mansion in an expensive district of west London. He caused significant damage to the British economy yet did not apologise for the serious policy errors made whilst a minister which contributed to the economic stagnation during the 1960s and 1970s.

...I wonder what Glenda Jackson will say about him - she was self indulgent with her vitriolic condemnation of Margaret Thatcher who, arguably, did a great deal more for this country than did this narcissistic "intellectual", Tony Benn.

Many people have eulogised about him

Was he really so special? What did he achieve? He contributed to the "longest suicide note". He had little influence for most of his political career.

I am saddened by his death, as I would be if he were almost anyone else. I don't see he was so special.

Unlike any of the current "professional politicians" Tony was a man of principles and didn't flip flop his position at will ,unlike the clowns who now call themselves MP's

...granted, Les - but he was dangerously naive and in a position to do a lot of damage to this country's interests at the height of the Cold War.

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