Sunday, September 03, 2006

Tony Benn, spin and some facts

Tony Benn was on radio again today, promoting himself as man of the people and anti-spin.

But the truth is, Tony Benn is a past-master of spin.

On 5Live this morning he was given a free rant and did his usual hatchet job on New Labour and Tony Blair.

Tony Benn had his chance a generation ago, and look what happened.

Despite the historic facts, he still wants us to believe that the alternative to a New Labour Government is a return to Old Labour.

It isn't now and it never will be.

Tony Benn conveniently forgets that it was on his watch that the Labour Party was almost destroyed, much of it self-inflicted, leading to 18 years in the wilderness.

And of course, Mr Benn forgets it was Labour Party members who overwhelmingly elected Tony Blair as Party Leader in 1994.

And he glosses over the fact that nine times as many Labour Party members voted to change Clause 4 than to retain it.

But the most damning fact he never mentions is that in the 1997 First Labour landslide, one of the few - if any - seats to have a swing against Labour was... er, Chesterfield, whose MP was one Tony Benn.

Nuff said.


Anonymous said...

To be entirely fair to Benn, his vote did go up in Chesterfield in 1997, though only by 3.5% compared to the regional average 10.4% - the reason there was a swing against him was mainly a big Con-Lib swing, possibly due to tactical voting against him by Tory voters. Still, it was certainly a poor result.

There were at least a dozen seats that had swings against Labour, but most of them were due to tactical voting in Con-Lib marginals. The two big exceptions were Bradford West and Bethnal & Bow Green, but the only sitting Labour MP to lose vote share was Alun Michael. He had the excuse of a spoiler candidate standing as "New Labour", but it was also still a poor result.

fairdealphil said...

Thanks for the stats Nick.

I also accept the swing against Tony Benn was small in 97 - but the writing was plain.

I doubt he would have held it if he had not retired - no hard evidence, just a gut feeling!

Anonymous said...

I would be interested to know how Labour members in Chesterfield feel about the situation. I have a feeling that it is sometimes very difficult to hold seats that have been held by known rebels - it's okay for someone like Tony Benn to keep getting support on the basis of personal profile, even if he is consistently speaking out against the government he supposedly supports, but how does a successor candidate campaign?

Anonymous said...


Actually you were soft on Benn. Not only did he salute the worst result in the Labour Party's post-war history as a great victory ("8 million votes for socialism" - a fine comfort for those who didn't have his wealth and lost their homes and jobs under the Tories) but he was truely the Peter Mandelson of his era.

He was a TV producer who made films for Hugh Gaitskell. Maybe he's jealous of Peter because Tony Blair won and Hugh Gaitskell lost (after some massive tactical ineptitude in the 1959 election).

Jonathan Sheppard said...

Reg Race wasnt liked as he wasn't local. Paul Holmes has got stuck in and the Liberal Democrats decimated Labour in the local elections, thus removing Labours power base.

Bob Piper said...

I don't know who is talking more tripe, you or your commenters. Firstly... 'Benn had his chance a generation ago'. No he didn't. Michael Foot was Labour Leader, not Tony Benn. We were still suffering from the stultifying right-wing Callaghan-Healey administration... although I suppose you think they lost because they were 'too left wing'.

Benn doesn't argue for Old Labour. He knows as well as anyone the right contolled old labour, with all the sexist and racist attitudes that go with them. Benn argues for democracy. Now I know that is a difficult concept for some, but if what you are saying is that democracy has had its day... so be it. Ask any of those who voted for the NEW clause 4 what they voted for. Do you really believe that after 9 years we have created a society "in which power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many, not the few" or even striven to do so.

As for anonymous "He was a TV producer who made films for Hugh Gaitskell." Where do they dream this shite up?

Jonathan Sheppard said...

Bob - its good to see you going out to bat for the upper crust. Lord Stansgate would appreciate your defference :o)

Bob Piper said...

That's the problem with Tories, I suspect. YOU have deference, we have respect.

Jonathan Sheppard said...

Oh I respect him. In fact I have been in the Chesterfield Labour club many times. Now Bob - go on - I know you like me! You can buy me a diet coke in Manchester at Conference!

Bob Piper said...

johnathon... you are clearly confusing me with someone else. I don't like Tories.

Jonathan Sheppard said...

Say it isn't so Bob, say it isn't so!

Anonymous said...

Bob, I think you owe me an apology

Provides ample evidence of Benn's role as a TV producer.

You should calm down.