A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Benn Dynasty

Tony Benn said at the weekend:

"If it turns out that the Labour Party have a coronation, I mean we might as well have a heredity leader of the Labour Party."

Perhaps it was a little unwise for him to draw attention to the hereditary principle in Labour politics given the Mr Benn's paternal grandad was a Liberal MP, his maternal grandad was also an MP, his dad was a Liberal MP (for the same seat as the grandfather!) then later a Labour Minister, and his son is also an MP, Cabinet Minister, and candidate for the same post - Deputy Leader - that Mr Benn senior ran for.


Blogger Owen said...


You have (intentionally I know) completely missed the point Tony was making. Coming from a family with a long background in politics is one thing. It is quite another for the leader of the Labour party to be "coronated" like a king without any election or even consultation with party members or trade unionists. Our party has a long democratic tradition - it would be disastrous for our leaders to be simply appointed without any democratic participation.

Indeed, your slight completely breaks down given Tony Benn (and his other family members) were democratically elected to their positions.

This is the first and last time I will ever quote John Prescott - but "we don't do coronations in the Labour party."

11:48 am, February 05, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

I'm in favour of a Brown-McDonnell contest to demonstrate how little appetite there is for a return to Bennite policies.

The fact that McDonnell is struggling to get 45 nominations is his problem, not the Labour Party's.

12:14 pm, February 05, 2007

Anonymous Brian said...

I am glad to see that Luke is in favour of a democratic election for Leader of the Labour Party.

Others do well to calm down a bit and also support a democratic election rather than witter on about seamless transitions and such guff.

My understanding of the situation is that there will be two names on the ballot paper for Leader. Then it's up to the members to decide isn't it.

12:51 pm, February 05, 2007

Anonymous Tim F said...

"I'm in favour of a Brown-McDonnell contest to demonstrate how little appetite there is for a return to Bennite policies."

I'm not convinced these analogies with the 80s are at all appropriate. I'll happily agree that in the 80s we spent far too much time talking about international issues and internal party matters and people thought we cared about those things over and above the things they cared about. Though it wasn't just the left that was guilty of all that.

But of John McDonnell's key pledges, only one is international and that has widespread public support. The others (taking railways back into public ownership, restoring the link between earnings and pensions, abolition of student tuition fees, end to NHS cuts) are all incredibly populist policies.

Also, we're talking about a completely different electoral landscape to the 80s - I don't believe David Cameron can command the working class Tory vote Thatcher did in 1983, as evidenced by the encouraging polling of Northern voters you posted about a little while back. There are other groups Thatcher could get that Cameron can't too - he can't command the wide coalition of support Thatcher did and his strategy is based on imo a misconception that the liberal middle-class vote is bigger than it actually is. So in theory we should win the next election, but alienating a few hundred thousand NHS staff & civil servants through cuts & job losses, failing to deal with acute housing shortages and having a Scottish PM might not help.

In short, what is the similarity between Benn in the 80s and McDonnell's campaign now? I see more differences than similarities, and McDonnell's agenda seems a lot more practical and relevant to me than Benn's was.

3:12 pm, February 05, 2007

Anonymous ted harvey said...

As pointed out already Luke you intentionally and completely 'missed' the point that Tony Benn was making. But I also wonder if you really are genuinely ignorant of the background of this fellow Labour Party member that you so meanly slight. Tony Benn took a brave and hithertoe unthinkable action (in the 1960s?)when he sought and got legal leave from Parliament to renounce his hereditary peerage (and all the privelages) so that he could seek a democratic mandate.
So unlike the many so-called Labour 'supporters' that we now have and who cannot wait to be 'nominated' into the Lords that Benn, in a truly 'noble' way, renounced.
If you didn't know all this, then at least you know now, and might retract what you said? If you did know, 'mean' is the very least desciption that can be applied to your comment.

3:58 pm, February 05, 2007

Anonymous Gus Abraham said...

'The fact that McDonnell is struggling to get 45 nominations is his problem' - yes and its the result of Blue labour having gutted the Labour Party of anyone with a shred of integrity.

What a sick joke Blue Labour is. What a disgraceful sick joke.

Can i I recommend visiting www.health.ed.ac.uk/CIPHP/Documents/CIPHP_2006_ImpactOfPFIOnScotlandsNHS_Hellowell_000.pdf where a well researched report Pirate Finance Initiatives can be found.

4:28 pm, February 05, 2007

Anonymous ted harvey said...

Gus I couldn't get that link to work. I did get through on this (first class document thanks):


7:25 pm, February 05, 2007

Anonymous ted harvey said...

Gus, me again and I've just seen that my alternative link didn't show here up properly. Neither of the links seem to be 'blogable'. However, either of the addresses we gave will get people through to the host site, then click on
'Centre for International Public Health Policy' and the document is listed as 'Impact of....'

7:30 pm, February 05, 2007

Anonymous imabroad said...

Is McDonnell struggling to get the 44 MPs? I just finished this article at the new statesman & the people interviewed in that article say McDonnell is close to the 44.

8:22 pm, February 05, 2007

Anonymous susan calder valley CLP said...

Good article -ish.Nice one, Owen and Co. Amazing how Sham can come across as a pleasant individual. We know better.

9:41 pm, February 05, 2007

Anonymous tiny said...

The document can be read through the following link:


By the way, Luke, now it's 2007 - what are Bennitte policies?

2:36 am, February 06, 2007

Blogger Sham said...

Amazing how Sham can come across as a pleasant individual. We know better.

Ouch! That was a low blow!!!

Ah, the joys of freedom of speech; it's a pity the Gallowayites aren't as committed to freedom and democracy as they claim ...

4:08 pm, February 06, 2007


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