I am deeply saddened to hear of the death of Tony Benn.
In Tower Hamlets we have a family connection to Tony. Both his father and grandfather represented the St George’s Constituency in our borough, and, even though Tony did not directly follow in the family tradition and run here, in his half century in parliament he was a stalwart representative of the working people who make up most of our voters. Less than a year ago, Tony visited Wapping in our borough to unveil a plaque the leveller Thomas Rainsborough.
Tony shared our belief that the best path to social justice, and to socialism, was through parliamentary democracy. Even people who disagreed with him recognized his integrity and his passion. He was one of an increasingly rare breed – a politician with principles. In response, of course, some of the media demonized him. But it is a testament to the good sense of ordinary people that despite the dismissive sneers and constant attacks from his enemies, he was voted the most loved politician in the country. With his death, the poor, the vulnerable, working people, ethnic minorities – have lost a valiant champion.
I extend my deepest sympathy to his family, and join with millions of others in mourning not just the death of a giant figure in the Labour movement, but also the passing of an era.