More Time for Politics: Diaries 2001-2007
Tony Benn, Ruth Winstone
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When Tony Benn left Parliament after 51 years he quoted his wife Caroline's remark that now he would have 'more time for politics'. And so this has proved: in the first seven years of this century he has helped reinvigorate national debate through public meetings, mass campaigns and appearances in the media, passionately bringing moral and political issues to wide audiences. And throughout, as ever, he has been keeping his diaries.
Commenting on the demise of the New Labour project from the re-election of Tony Blair in 2001 to the ultimate foreign policy disasters of Afghanistan and Iraq, he gives other prescient accounts of the government's by-passing of Cabinet, parliament and the party, of the 'war on terror', the debate about Islam, globalisation and the changes in British society. Although he is no longer in power or in parliament, Tony Benn remains a figure of enormous respect whose direct views, honestly expressed, have often awakened the national conscience. His latest Diaries, human and challenging in turn, are an enthralling read.
moving ceremony at the grave of a young African slave who died in 1750, at the age of eighteen, owned by the Earl of Suffolk or something, and he had named the boy Scipio Africanus. There was this gravestone that mentioned Scipio Africanus, and on the gravestone was a little black face brought up in bas relief. Several people spoke and then I went on to the final event at the History Museum, where they’ve got a tremendous exhibition there of black slavery. Bristol has always been very embarrassed
Wales. We stopped on the M4 for a cup of tea, then carried on. We went to Brynmawr: Peter Hain was there, who is the Secretary of State for Wales as well as Leader of the House of Commons, and Rhodri Morgan, who was the leader of the Labour group, the First Minister for Wales. We went into a theatre, for the election meeting for Maggie Jones – about 150,200 people there. She was a UNISON (the public service union) candidate from an all-women shortlist, so a lot of the men didn’t turn up, and
itself.’ He didn’t say that about Iraq. He didn’t say that about Afghanistan. There’s no logic in it at all, and I think public opinion is now two to one against what the Israelis are doing, so Blair looks pathetic and irrelevant. He’s not even a member of the coalition of the willing. Friday 28 July I caught the 148 bus to Westminster, got there very early, about quarter-past four. Sat just by the statue of Field Marshal Lord Montgomery, where there was a wall I could sit on that was in the
that the climate has often changed, the temperature was higher a thousand years ago than it is today, when there were no manmade CO2 emissions. My interest in Piers is not only that he is a very successful weather forecaster, but he has a theory of his own, that it’s all due to sunspots: and (a) I always have an interest in people who stand against the conventional wisdom, as he does; (b) I think if we are going to tackle climate change in the way that is suggested, it would be so destructive of
was justifying it. I’m so glad Hilary is nothing to do with the Home Office now. Tuesday 24 June To the Commons, where I heard the last half-hour of the meeting of the Royal Society of Chemistry, which Stephen had organised, with Harry Kroto, who is the President of the Royal Society, a Nobel Prize-winner. Then walked up to the House of Lords for the annual lunch, which followed in the Cholmondeley Room. Lissie was there, and Hilary turned up. Charles Clarke made a speech. He looked a bit