Monday, 27 October 2014

Would Tony Benn have joined UKIP?

The answer of course is no - on the basis that Benn's belief in a benign all-powerful central State exercising national command from the centre is a core tenet of Labour, Conservative and FlibDim policies but not UKIP's. Still, there's a certain meeting of minds as expounded by Steve Richards in the Guardian; Steve actually wonders if many Tories aren't closet Bennites whilst scrupulously avoiding the point that UKIP is undeniably Bennite in terms of a shared stance on the EU; Benn was against it on democratic grounds. Sure, he wanted a centralist dictatorship in the UK - but he wanted people to vote for it first. 

Bennite praise also comes to Mr Carswell
The former Tory MP and Ukip defector, Douglas Carswell, was typical in praising Benn in his Guardian interview last week: “Benn said the key questions were: who has power, who gave it to them, on whose behalf do they wield it, and are they accountable? I remember thinking this guy is spot on.” Separately, the founder of the ConservativeHome website, Tim Montgomerie, told me at a public event that he was a “Bennite on Europe”. He would advocate withdrawal whatever Cameron says or does, on the grounds that the EU can never be accountable to voters here or elsewhere. On another front, Benn started a campaign after the 1979 election to make Labour’s leadership and MPs more accountable to party members, supporting the right of local parties to deselect MPs. Benn’s crusade then has become, in a different form, the unrelenting mission of some Tory MPs now, or former Tory MPs. Carswell defected above all over the right of constituents to remove errant MPs – the project led by his former Conservative colleague, Zac Goldsmith. The Tory Bennites’ proposal, the right of recall, is a different measure to Benn’s, but the principle is similar. Constituents should hold MPs to account and not the national leadership.
There must be a few creased brows and paused spoons of organic Goji Berry yoghurt at the breakfast tables of Guardianistas this morning. 


rapscallion said...

"who has power, who gave it to them, on whose behalf do they wield it, and are they accountable?

This is the nub of the entire question about democracy, or rather the lack of it in this country.

Currently the answer is the EU, successive governments since 1972, themselves and No in that order.

English Pensioner said...

Although I didn't agree with much that he said, I liked Tony Benn because he had beliefs and stuck to them. If he'd been prepared to go with the flow in the Labour party, he probably could have been PM. To me he was one of the few honest politicians.

Mr Ecks said...

Don't be getting all nostalgic cos the bloke is dead. He was a dangerous loon who would have sold us out to the soviets if he had had the chance.

Rush_is_Right said...

Benn; he was right about the EU. But so, for that matter was Michael Foot. It matters not a jot. On every other subject the man was a complete lunatic.

Visc said...

He was a friend of Enoch Powell and was hybrid of uber-statist but a man who was for parliament over the executive, and very anti EU. So yes he's as much a fit for the UKIP-Tory axis as many that exist there

Budgie said...

Benn was a liar. I saw him in Coventry where he visited to try to stop a strike. He failed, so then denied he had even been there.

Benn may have been personable, but he had a romantic and naive belief that everything could be run by the state provided there was democratic control.

He had no conception of Solzehitsyn's bitter lesson that the shit always floats to the top. In a monolithic state there is no hiding place. Benn's socialist utopia would have been dreadful like the USSR.

mike fowle said...

It seems to me that Benn was a sort of Lear figure. He renounced his title but subconsciously he continued to expect to be treated like a Lord and be taken seriously whatever nonsense he spouted. Also his hilarious attempts to be seen as one of the workers. And don't forget he made the pirate radios illegal.

The Stigler said...

"who has power, who gave it to them, on whose behalf do they wield it, and are they accountable?"

and yet, Benn was against free markets, despite the fact that they give people freedom. Seriously, how could you live through the 70s and the 90s and somehow arrive at the conclusion that the former worked?

Personally, I would never describe anything I did as Bennite, even if it was a view I shared with him, simply to avoid any suggestion that most of his views were anything more than bad. For all their sins, the EU are less worse than leaving and having the Bennites in charge.