Happy Birthday Tony Benn! LeftOut’s favourite quotes

3 Apr

Today Tony Benn turns 87. To celebrate another year in the life of this master orator, Left Out wishes him a happy birthday with some of our favourite quotes. Tony Benn

‘It is wholly wrong to blame Marx for what was done in his name , as it is to blame Jesus for what was done in his’

The Benn Heresy, 1982

‘Change from below, the formulation of demands from the populace to end unacceptable injustice, supported by direct action, has played a far larger part in shaping British democracy than most constitutional lawyers, political commentators, historians or statesmen have ever cared to admit. Direct action in a democratic society is fundamentally an educational exercise.’

In New Politics, 1970

‘I sometimes wish the trade unionists who work in the mass media, those who are writers and broadcasters and secretaries and printers and lift operators of Thomson House would remember that they too are members of our working class movement and have a responsibility to see that what is said about us is true.’
Chairman’s closing address to the Labour Party Conference, 1972

“When you reach my age, you have to remember to be very careful about your bladder on marches: you can’t drink any tea for about 24 hours beforehand.”

Hay Festival, 2007

‘Having served for nearly half a century in the House of Commons, I now want more time to devote to politics and more freedom to do so.’

“Benn retires to spend more time with his politics”, The Independent, 1999
‘If one meets a powerful person–Adolf Hitler, Joe Stalin or Bill Gates–ask them five questions: “What power have you got? Where did you get it from? In whose interests do you exercise it? To whom are you accountable? And how can we get rid of you?” If you cannot get rid of the people who govern you, you do not live in a democratic system.’

Speech to the House of Commons, 22 March 2001

‘When you think of the number of men in the world who hate each other, why, when two men love each other, does the church split?’

On the same-sex marriage controversy in the Church of England. The Journal, 26 March 2008

‘An educated, healthy and confident nation is harder to govern.’

Interview with Michael Moore, ‘Sicko’, 2007


‘Not at all. A classic case of the state funding capitalism. If it were Marxism you wouldn’t have this continuation of the bonus culture. The economic crisis we have now is a product of Thatcherism and Blairism applied to the economy. No one has said the trade unions are responsible for the credit crisis.’
On British banks being nationalised as evidence of Marxism, The Daily Telegraph28 October 2009

“I think New Labour is probably over.”

Hay Festival, 2007

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