Tributes to Labour veteran Tony Benn, dead at 88

Tony Benn
Tony Benn

The leader of Derbyshire County Council has paid tribute to veteran Labour politician and former cabinet minister Tony Benn, who has died at home at the age of 88.

Labour leader Councillor Anne Western described the former figurehead of the Labour left as “hugely influential” in a statement released by the Derbyshire authority this morning.

Tributes have poured in from all sides of politics to Mr Benn, a former Chesterfield MP Tony Benn who represented the town between 1984 and 2001.

Councillor Western said: “Tony Benn was a hugely influential and popular politician, the likes of whom we’ll never see again.

“He was a conviction politician and lived by his values, which inspired trust and belief in those who voted for him, who he served faithfully.

“His contribution to public life, at both local and national level, during his long and distinguished career was immense.

“His life’s work helped make a difference to countless Deryshire residents and his legacy will live on.

“He will be missed and our thoughts are with his family.”

In a statement, his children Stephen, Hilary, Melissa and Joshua said Mr Benn died peacefully early this morning at his home in west London surrounded by his family.

“We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to all the NHS staff and carers who have looked after him with such kindness in hospital and at home,” the family said.

“We will miss above all his love which has sustained us throughout our lives. But we are comforted by the memory of his long, full and inspiring life and so proud of his devotion to helping others as he sought to change the world for the better.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “Tony was a magnificent writer, speaker and campaigner. There was never a dull moment listening to him, even if you disagreed with him.”

Mr Benn entered Parliament in November 1950 and served as Minister of Technology, Industry and Energy in the Wilson and Callaghan Cabinets.

He opposed joining the Common Market, was pipped to the Deputy Leadership by Dennis Healey and backed the miners’ strike.

In recent years Mr Benn was president of the Stop the War campaign as well as a popular public speaker.

He has topped several polls as the most popular politician in Britain.

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