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Tony Benn

In a world where machine politicians hold sway Tony Benn stood out as a conviction politician even after he left Parliament ‘to spend more time on politics.’ He was also that rare thing, a political figure who moved to the left with age. When first elected to the commons aged 25 Benn was a relative moderate, but his experience of the way the British establishment – media, civil service and the wealthy – prevented effective change sent him leftwards, a journey continued through his long career. Unlike contemporaries eager to grab a peerage Benn fought to lose the one he inherited and that for a time excluded him from the Commons. His retirement as an MP in 2001 was the result of frustration at what could be achieved in that role rather than the effects of old age – he remained a captivating speaker well into his eighties. The political changes he sought did not come about, but his legacy remains in his writings, especially the diaries, and in the London’s Post Office Tower, symbol of the modernist drive Benn headed. His achievements also included the Concorde project, now like its champion consigned to history and to the what-might-have-beens.

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Pain is no evil, unless it conquers us. - Charles Kingsley
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Spanish Armada defeated - 1588, First International Title Fight - 1751, Opening Ceremony of 1948 Olympics - 1948, First Regular TV Weather Forecasts - 1949, Wedding of Charles and Diana - 1981
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