ANALYSIS Much has been written about what a great and wonderful leader Margaret Thatcher was, how the Tories harken back to the glory days when they knew victory was assured because they had a strong figure at the helm.
Some of that is of course true.
However, what is not so well documented or admitted to is how the Left, of which Tony Benn, whose death at the age of 88 was announced earlier today, was clearly its most trenchant disciple had contrived through their endless bickering to keep the most ideological Tory government in power for so long.
Tony Benn was many things, many many of them great, but how could he have been so politically naive not to realise that by so vocally opposing any change or reform within the Labour Party, that he was helping to give the public absolutely the wrong impression of his party – that they were not fit to govern.
Of course, he was not the only one – Michael Foot stood against Dennis Healey knowing full well that he did not have a cat in hell’s chance of winning the general election, and let’s not forget Shirley Williams and some one called David Owen. At least, Labour were spared Paddy Ashdown – though he like Owen, was inflicted on the people of Bosnia.
In the end, you might say Labour did reform and get back into power under Blair and appear once again on the brink of making a comeback, assuming of course the voters accept everyone’s younger brother as the next PM.
But the Labour that is now is a vastly different one from the one that Tony Benn and his ilk first came to and have now left.
Of course, that is not all his fault – but many forget that the country bequeathed to Blair and Brown underwent reforms that were irreversible, they tinkered with a system that had been created during that lost decade in British politics when it looked like the Tories under that obdurate leader called Margaret Thatcher would never leave.
So, all those homilies and testaments to how wonderful Tony Benn was, need also to factor in his contribution to decline in the manufacturing base of this country as well as the loss of the public’s confidence in British politics being able to improve their lives for the better.
It was a process that began with the loss of Harold Wilson, in whose cabinet Tony Benn was a member.