Hilary Benn’s departure from his father’s mantra…
The debate in the British House of Commons last night to vote for or against the bombing of ISIS targets in Syria will, perhaps be well remembered for the speech given by Hilary Benn, son of the late Tony in defiance of the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn. It was a remarkable speech, not just in its oration and emotion but one which can be seen as Benn Jnr coming into his own, out of the immense shadow of his father.
Tony Benn was a man whose politics were unquestionably principled, he was a great thinker, politician and orator with, like Corbyn, a deeply held belief in equality and justice. Like Corbyn however, his politics were, more often than not, unworkable and unconvincing for the wider British public. The older I get, however the more empathy I have with his devout anti-war feelings. I have long held the belief that death is death, regardless of skin colour and if we mourn, quite rightly, the deaths of white Europeans then so we should those innocent lives lost in daily conflicts across the globe. That was always Benn’s point and he was right.
Much has been made in the past few hours of Hilary Benn’s speech and Corbyn’s refusal to acknowledge his words and much will be said about Benn’s value as a future leader. What should be taken from the speech in my humble opinion is the witnessing of a gifted politician and orator speaking with passion and conviction. His view on airstrikes may not be in accordance with his late father’s but the legacy of thoughtful, intelligent and impassioned debate in the Chamber lives on and we must all be thankful for that.
As this is a blog based on times past I shall end with a speech made by Benn Snr with a younger Jeremy Corbyn sat in attendance. Benn had a gift for speaking the English language and that at the very least should be remembered and recognised.