Suffolk MEP pays tribute to Tony Benn

Richard Howitt MEP at Victoria First School, Berkhamsted PNL-140403-060153003
Richard Howitt MEP at Victoria First School, Berkhamsted PNL-140403-060153003

The Labour Party has lost a teacher, a prophet and a thinker with yesterday’s (Friday, March 14) announcement of the death of Tony Benn, according to long-standing local Labour Euro MP Richard Howitt.

Mr Howitt described Tony Benn as one of the finest political speakers in the history of the Labour Party and the last of a generation of politicians who would always put policies above polls.

The MEP, who met and campaigned with Tony Benn on countless occasions, from his time in student politics to his current role as Member of the European Parliament, said:

“Tony Benn was an inspiration to me and many young people coming into the Labour Party, and with his very sad loss today our party has lost one of the finest teachers, prophets and thinkers in its history.

“Tony Benn taught me that to be a politician you also had to be a teacher, and he was always someone who put policies before personalities or polls.

“My first meeting with him was when he came to my university in the wake of an attempted coup in Spain, where he drove home his lifelong passion for the importance of parliamentary democracy.

“An abiding memory for me about Tony was in regularly attending his late night conversations over a pot of tea at Labour Party Conference which always bubbled with ideas, argument and humour.

“The last time I saw him was sitting on a picnic box at the TUC’s mass protest march against the cuts just two years ago when he marched with the rest of us just like anyone else.

“This morning I feel very sorry that I will never again be able to hear a speech from one of the Labour Party’s greatest ever orators. Whether you agreed with him or not, everyone would want to listen to Tony Benn.”