Tony Benn ‘Will and Testament’


If UK politics has taken its toll on you over the last years then take an hour to watch this film, recharge & reinvigorate

The economic crisis, austerity, job losses, food banks followed swiftly on from the political upheavals of Labour losing office and then Brexit.

It has been a whirlwind in politics. Sometimes it can be easy for the Left to lose direction. Along with the everyday struggles of life, the fact that often we get caught up in one political campaign after another we start to only see the trees and not the forest.

The shakeup of the British political system is still vibrating through the very foundations of Westminster has shown our parliament to be closer to a banana republic than an institution of democracy. The immediate cause of Brexit. Brexit has divided the Right, but the realignment of socialism and a socialist takeover of the Labour Party has fractured the Left. In fact, the terms Right and Left, which still mean so much to politicians, are becoming increasingly irrelevant to the wider public. The twentieth-century arguments between capitalism and socialism mean little to twenty-first-century voters.

As a result, Conservative and Labour, the two parties that have dominated British politics for almost one hundred years, no longer command the enthusiasm of voters as they once did.

For 50 years the EU project was the Tory project. The Left-wing vehemently opposed our EEC membership we also opposed EU membership, not only here in the UK but internationally. Left-wing comrades held the same view of the EU throughout Europe. They recognised the EU as a capitalist construct one that would progress neoliberalism

The Maastricht Treaty the very treaty that formed the EU was held in France on 20 September 1992. It was approved by only 50.8% of the voters. Opponents included the French Communist Party (PCF) and far-left parties such as the Revolutionary Communist League (LCR) or Workers’ Struggle (LO), who opposed what they considered as an advance of neoliberalism

The UK departure from the EU as shown the bare face of British politics and for many that face is positively ugly. If the quality of politicians left us wanting before 2015, then it now leaves us exasperated by the sheer lack of gravitas in the majority that sit in parliament.

The shame of the last 5 years in UK politics is the fact that the Tory’s were the ones predicted to rip themselves to pieces over the EU. In fact, it has been the Party to show most discipline.

We must get back to basics, back to socialism and the people. Take back control of the Party or lose it forever

The camps within the Labour Party have used Brexit as an excuse to fight it’s own internal battle a struggle of the so-called broadchurch. This internal fight fundamentally asks that question. “Are we a socialist Party of the Left or a Centrist Party of Tony Blair and New Labour?

Tony Benn stated:

If the Labour Party could be bullied or persuaded to denounce its Marxist, the media -having tasted Blood- would demand next that it expelled all its Socialist and reunited the remaining Labour Party with the SDP to form a harmless alternative to the Conservatives, which could then be allowed to take office now and then when the Conservatives fell out of favour with the public.

Thus British Capitalism, it is argued, will be made safe forever, and socialism would be squeezed of the National agenda. 

But if such a strategy were to succeed… it would in fact profoundly endanger British society. For it would open up the danger of a swing to the far-right, as we have seen in Europe over the last 50 years.” -Tony Benn

Another great socialist Nye Bevan also declared

“The Right Wing of the Labour Party would rather see it fall into perpetual decline rather than abide by its democratic decisions” -Nye Bevan

Tony Blair has said he would not want a left-wing Labour party to win a general election.

Blair claims that even if he thought a left-wing programme was the route to victory, he would not adopt one. He goes on to say…

“[Labour] misunderstand the difference between radical leftism, which is often in fact quite reactionary – and radical social democracy, which is all about ensuring that values are put to work in the most effective way,” he said.

“Let me make my position clear: I wouldn’t want to win on an old-fashioned leftist platform. Even if I thought it was the route to victory, I wouldn’t take it.”

It is now that we should all take a very deep breath. We should pause in our none stop political battles. Step back a little, reground ourselves. The last ten years in politics have been some of the most traumatic and chaotic in British history. For those on the Left who feel at a loss or no longer see the forest for the trees would do well to watch this film for the next hour. Tony Benn ‘Will and Testament’

The most dangerous man in Britain

Benn’s life offers an incredible sweep of history: the son of feminist theologian Margaret Wedgwood Benn and former secretary of state for India, Viscount Stansgate (as he briefly was), Benn had already met Gandhi, flown in Africa during the second World War and worked as a producer for the BBC by the time he renounced his title in 1963.

While others have been softened by office, ministerial posts only served to radicalise Benn, who realised that: “Democracy ought to be the system that changes things to meet the people’s needs. But it has been subtly transformed to change the people to meet the needs of the system.” As he moved further to the left, he became demonised as “the most dangerous man in Britain”.

Speaking to camera, he remains defiant and unrepentant: “Socialism is about trying to construct a society around production for need and not just for profit.”

From the archives he ridicules the idea that the Soviets want to roll across Europe so that they might one day “deal with Ian Paisley”. He recalls how the IMF bullied Labour into cuts during the 1970s, leaving the party out in the cold just before profits from North Sea oil kicked in – profits that funded crowd-control throughout the benighted decade that followed.

More centrist folks may flinch or sneer, but even they will find cause to revel in the liveliness of Benn’s intellect. A privilege to watch.

Today’s Labour Party is at a cross roads

There is only one Left-wing candidate for leader in this Labour leadership competition Rebecca Long-Bailey

If you want the Party to keep Left then vote both RLB and Richard Burgon for deputy.

#Richard4Deputy #RLB2020

Credit Tony Benn: Will and Testament Director Skip Kite

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