Niall’s virtual diary archives – Saturday 15th March 2014

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Saturday 15th March 2014: 4.28am. Link shared: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/mar/14/tony-benn-obituary

I've just realised that Tony Benn died yesterday. Like pretty much well ... everyone ... I didn't agree with almost everything Tony Benn said and believed. He was sufficiently competent to have done a great deal of harm to Britain back when he was in power, and his actions nearly brought about a military coup against the British government by a desperate industrial elite, the first since the 17th century. However he was also sufficiently incompetent to be effective without being wise, in a sort of way which was oddly similar to Margaret Thatcher, only that her view won the majority of the people of that time while Benn's views never did. In the way only history does, as a result Thatcher was disgraced after just a decade, whereas Benn was widely respected and admired right up until his death, and probably most especially by those who completely disagreed with him which was pretty much everybody in the past thirty years. I'll put it another way: of all the people who Ali G (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ali_G) ever made a fool of publicly, the only one he ever apologised immediately afterwards was for Tony Benn with a photo complete with the newly made aware Tony who actually took it very well. As much as you thought he spoke mostly rot, you couldn't help but like him in a way I guess the vast majority also did e.g. fictional characters by Sacha Baron Cohen.

As a product of the same generation, I too am similarly biased. While Thatcher's death didn't particularly move me, Tony Benn's has moved me and for the life of me I am unsure why. Both were great people; both were basically the same sort of thing; both, unlike almost any modern politician, actually believed most of what they said and didn't give a crap if people got upset. Both had a worldview which held together logically, even if no one normal would actually like to live in such a world.

Both were also dinosaurs, and both were destructive rather than constructive people. Benn, unlike Thatcher, was still appearing as a knowledgeable if left/Benn biased commentator on global politics right up until his death - I remember him opining on Irish politics only a few years ago, and I thought him remarkably accurate right up until he started spewing his usual rhetoric.

Perhaps the reason that Tony Benn was so widely loved is exactly that reason: how could a person so remarkably in touch and with such remarkable understanding of the world, be so remarkably wrong? Except, of course, you always have this nasty sneaking suspicion that had history gone slightly differently, Thatcher would be Benn and Benn would be Thatcher. Perhaps our collectiveness fondness for Tony Benn was in fact a recognition that in moderation, his extremist views actually made a ton load of sense just as Thatcher in moderation did.

R.I.P. Tony Benn.

#tonybenn  

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