Tony Benn

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Anthony Neil Wedgwood Benn (born 3 April 1925), formerly 2nd Viscount Stansgate, is a British Labour Party politician, former Cabinet Minister and the current President of the Stop the War Coalition.

With his successful campaign to renounce his inherited title, a landmark case in British politics, Benn was instrumental in the creation of the Peerage Act 1963. Later, in the Labour Government of 1964–1970 under Harold Wilson, he served first as Postmaster General, where he oversaw the opening of the Post Office Tower, and later as a notably 'technocratic' Minister of Technology, retaining his seat in the cabinet. In the period when the Labour Party were in opposition, Benn served for a year as the Chairman of the Labour Party. In the Labour Government of 1974–1979, he returned to the Cabinet, initially serving as Secretary of State for Industry, before being made Secretary of State for Energy, retaining his post when James Callaghan replaced Wilson as Prime Minister. During the Labour Party's time in opposition during the 1980s, he was seen as the party's prominent figure on the Left, and the term "Bennite" (a term never actually used by Benn himself) has come to be used in Britain for someone of a more radical, left-wing position.[1] According to the historian Alwyn W. Turner, Benn had "emerged during the 1970s as the most persuasive and charismatic leader of the left for two decades, charming, funny and impassioned, as adept in the television studio as he was at mass rallies."[2]

Benn, second only to John Parker as Labour's longest serving Member of Parliament, has come top in several polls as one of the most popular politicians in the UK.[3] He has been described as "one of the few UK politicians to have become more left-wing after holding ministerial office."[4] Since leaving parliament, Benn has also become more interested in the grass-roots politics of demonstrations and meetings, and less in parliamentary activities. He has been a vegetarian since the 1970s.


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