I would be ashamed if I ever said anything I didn’t believe in, to get on personally
Tony Benn was one of the UK’s longest serving MPs, known for his passionate social justice campaigning, a love of tea drinking and pipe smoking, and generally civil manner – even when arguing with political adversaries.
Born Anthony Wedgewood Benn, his father was a Liberal MP who later became a viscount, while his progressive mother was a theologian and feminist.
Tony was first elected to parliament in 1950. After his father's death in 1960 however, he automatically inherited his title, disqualifying him from sitting in the Commons. He campaigned tirelessly for 3 years until the conservative government passed the Peerage Act, allowing him to once again sit as an MP.
A minister in the 1960s and 1970s, Benn was an impassioned social justice campaigner. Many expected him to become Prime Minister one day, but that wasn’t to be.
His diaries which he kept from the 1960s up until the 2000s, became famous - as well as a keen political commentator into old age, he was always eager to express an opinion. After standing down from Parliament in 2001 – “to spend more time on politics” – he became actively involved with the Stop the War coalition.
People from across the political divide paid warm tribute to him when he died. Then-Prime Minister, David Cameron said: “Tony Benn was a magnificent writer, speaker and campaigner. There was never a dull moment listening to him, even if you disagreed with him.”