Steer for the deep waters only

Robert Day's thoughts on his photography, his writing and his business

Tony Benn, 1925 – 2014

with 3 comments

‘Ask the powerful 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?
How can we get rid of you?

Only democracy gives us that right. That is why no-one with power likes democracy and that is why every generation must struggle to win it and keep it; including you and me, here and now.’


I encountered Tony Benn on only a few occasions: once at PCS Conference in 2006, when he addressed a Stop the War Coalition fringe meeting; then a few months later, at a mass lobby of Parliament; and later in 2010, when he addressed a conference in Birmingham. I’d been on the front row at the conference fringe meeting to secure good pictures; when he saw me in a similar place at the parliamentary lobby rally a few months later, he recognised and acknowledged me. Not much of a claim to fame, but the best I can do.

In one week, the British Left has lost two iconic figures: one, Bob Crow, general secretary of the rail workers’ union RMT, was one of the last traditional trade union leaders; the other, Tony Benn, was a member of the aristocracy who turned his back on his background and took up the cause of the Left. Both men polarised opinion; both held their views steadfastly whether they were popular or not. Of both men, colleagues and opponents alike have praised their personal integrity, steadfastness and honesty – qualities sadly lacking in so much of the political establishment nowadays.

More of my photographs of Tony Benn can be seen here.


Tony Benn, 1925 – 2014



Written by robertday154

March 14, 2014 at 11:10 am

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  1. Good on you, Robert.

    The life of Tony Benn should be emulated by anyone entering politics: always stick to your principles and never compromise your integrity for short-term gain and/or blatant self-interest.

    I always admired the man and took note when this elderly statesman went out and offered his support to the Occupy kids, an octogenarian who retained his common roots and sense of social justice.

    A true socialist, right to the very end.

    Cliff Burns

    March 14, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    • Someone has posted online one of Tony’s letters to his grandchildren. He was writing about old age, and the compact by which those of working age support the state pensions of the retired; and in part he wrote:

      “What do the young get out of taking responsibility for the old? The answer is simple, for it is the sense of identity between the generations and the security that that sense of identity provides. I find it very comforting. But if older people are to be interesting to the young they have to be interested in the young and treat them with respect.”


      March 14, 2014 at 5:26 pm

      • The great Tony Benn, ladies and gentlemen.

        Thank you for taking notice of his passing, Robert.

        Cliff Burns

        March 14, 2014 at 6:10 pm

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